Continuity and Change in Saudi Arabia’s Leadership Transition

Post by Rachel Hoffman,  Research Intern at the International Centre for Security Analysis.

Just before the New Year, King Abdullah was admitted to a hospital with breathing difficulties later attributed to pneumonia. In the weeks that followed, officials half-heartedly attempted to reassure the world of Abdullah’s improvement, but on January 23 came the news that many suspected as imminent – King Abdullah had passed away and his half-brother, Crown Prince Salman, had become king.

International scrutiny of Salman began immediately, with comparisons between him and Abdullah and predictions regarding his policy priorities flooding the Internet. From the abundance of reports emerged the certainty that, above all, continuity will be a central theme of his rule. The new monarch quickly pledged to continue King Abdullah’s main domestic and foreign policies. The nearly unchanged composition of the cabinet of ministers supported the idea of continuity with fears that sharp policy changes could cause instability in Saudi Arabia which currently faces severe economic and political risks. Continue reading