Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, Inc.

Sign up for IRmep's periodic email bulletins!

New IRmep book now available!


on Twitter!

Audio podcast.gif (1429 bytes)

Email list Subscribe
Audio Archive
Video Archive
Israel Lobby Archive
About IRmep
Policy & Law Enforcement

centle.jpg (8432 bytes)







A Regional Diagnosis:
Aged Arab Rulers on Life Support

by Hassan Al-Husseini - a Saudi writer based in Bahrain

There is a strong rumor going around that Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi, in his 80s, is on life support. It is said that the only decision left is when -- or whether -- to remove the life support. Big questions arise over the succession, which is supposed to be by election.  Sheikh Zayed had strong opinions and has set many policies in place that affect the entire Gulf. Dubai wants a greater say in national UAE affairs.

In Kuwait, they have been grappling for weeks with the health of the ruler, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah,  and the Prime Minister Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah, both in their 70s. The ruling family is considering a total change, but is not sure when.  Rumors have been flying in recent weeks.

In Saudi Arabia, King Fahed has been on life supports of one kind or another for nearly 9 years. Crown Prince Abdullah and Second Deputy Premier Prince Sultan are in their early 80s. About 60% of the population is below 21, as is the case in Kuwait and the UAE. These three countries control over 45% of the world's oil reserves.

One of the two uncles of King Hamad in Bahrain, Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman, has been on life support since June 2002. He owns much property in Bahrain. The King's other uncle is Prime Minister Khalifa.

In Palestine, President Arafat, in his 70s, required special medical examinations by Tunisian doctors last week. The Palestinian government's security services and militias are engaged in power struggles.  The outcome is unclear.  In a sense there is no Palestinian Authority.

In Egypt, President Mubarak is in his early 70s, and has no vice president. He recently went to Germany for a spine operation, but couldn't lose weight in preparation for surgery. His son is being groomed as a successor. The opposition and foreign investors are not impressed.

Iraq remains without a stable government, with a major insurgency against US occupation and risks of a civil war involving Shias, Sunnis and Kurds. Egypt, of all places, will host a conference on Nov. 22 in Sharm El-Sheikh to review preparations for a democratic election in January 2005!  Every night we see the carnage in Iraq on local satellite TV.

Lebanon just extended the term of President Lahoud under Syrian guidance. The constitution had to be amended. The Government of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri resigned last week, under threat of Israeli, US and French interventions. Opposition General Aoun is still trying to pick a fight with Syria since his ouster in 1990.

Syria remains under threat by the US and Israel, accused of involvement in Lebanon through support for Hizballah and in Iraq for alleged support for the insurgency.  The Syrian government is still run by old timers surrounding the young President Bashar Assad.

Libya has been removed from the US terrorism list, but President-for-Life Qaddafi was just accused of trying to finance the assassination of the Saudi Crown Prince, and of financing some Iraqi insurgents. The US oil companies have not been able to move in yet.  Sudan is tottering with its troubles in Darfur and the South. Qaddafi was trying to help them out with his conference in Tripoli last week.

In Israel, Prime Minister Sharon is continuing his carnage against the Palestinians. We see it every night on Al-Arabiya (Saudi from Dubai), Al-Jazeera (Qatar), Al-Qatariya, Al-Emarat (UAE), Al-Alam (Iran in Arabic), Al-Manar (Hezbollah from Lebanon) and all other Arabic TV channels, with the exception of the new US TV Al-Hurra ("Freedom"), which often does documentaries on the Wild West cowboys and Indians.

The US is trying to have a normal election, but a new toss-up is still possible. Whereas most people oppose the war in Iraq, both major candidates support the war. The US budget deficit is over $400 billion, and the US military budget is about $400 billion. The US national debt is somewhere near $7 trillion, requiring perhaps $500 billion in annual payments on its interest alone (that's your US government bonds!).

Historians will look back and see what a mess we have.  We truly need healthy visionaries to resolve the Middle East conflicts. But I am afraid things are still going to get a lot worse with no respite in sight.  Nuclear proliferation is ongoing out there. This can only augur bad news for the oil and
energy sectors.

 |  home | search | site info | privacy policy  | contact us! | MEASURE | CPLE

spacer.gif (905 bytes)
Institute for Research Middle Eastern Policy, Inc. (IRmep)
Telephone: (202) 342-7325 E-mail: IRMEP Info Comments about this Site

Institute for Research Middle Eastern Policy, Inc.
Copyright 2002-2016 IRmep. All Rights Reserved.
Content may not be reprinted or retransmitted in whole

or part without the expressed written consent and
citation of IRmep unless otherwise directed.

This site is optimized for Internet Explorer 5 or higher and a

screen resolution of 800 x 600 and above