Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has died in hospital, state TV says.
Before the announcement, Saudi television cut to Koranic verses early on Friday, which often signifies the death of a senior royal.
The Royal Court announced in a statement read on official Saudi TV. Prince Salman was named the new the King of Saudi Arabia and Prince Muqrin as Crown Prince. King Salman has called on the family’s Allegiance Council to pay allegiance to Muqrin as his crown prince and heir, the statement said.
Salman however,is believed to be ill, there is speculation he is suffering from dementia or Parkinson’s disease, something the Saudis deny. The new king is a chipper 79, so he probably is not that far behind his brother.
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In recent months Salman has begun to play a more active role and has represented the country at important meetings abroad – including a high-octane Gulf summit. He also serves as deputy prime minister and defense minister.
King Abdullah, who is said to be aged about 90, had been in hospital for several weeks suffering from a lung infection. Apparently Pneumonia was his cause of death.
Born before his father founded the modern Saudi state in 1932, King Abdullah focused his final years on internal and external security threats to a nation he had seen grow into an oil giant and center of political and religious power in the region.
His death removes a bulwark against the democratic and Islamist movements that have roiled the rest of the Arab world since the uprisings of 2011, though his immediate successors are seen as just as conservative as he was, or more.
In one of his final statements, an address before the consultative Shoura Council read by his half-brother and heir to the throne earlier this month, Abdullah emphasized that his country was “blessed with security and stability” in the heart of a volatile region.
There is now word whether Secretary of State Kerry will bring James Taylor to sing at the Funeral.