THE demise of Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz on Friday was a great loss to the world that is yearning for peace and stability in the volatile Middle East.
Under King Abdullah, the Middle East and the United States remained fast allies bound by mutual interests in maintaining regional stability and the oil supply.
President Barack Obama mourning the loss of King Abdullah, said he “appreciated our genuine and warm friendship” and praised the late monarch as both “candid” and “bold.”
The Saudi monarch played a bigger role than just being a US ally in the Middle East and even the world by being a key mediator between Muslim countries and the West.
Shiite Iran, the Sunni KSA’s main regional adversary, even sent condolences to the Saudi people and its foreign minister traveled to Riyadh for an “official ceremony” this weekend.
King Abdullah, who officially took power in 2005, guided his country through a turbulent decade in the region, with neighbors Iraq and Yemen wracked with insecurity after the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings and the growth of Islamic radicalism.
But French President Francois Hollande said King Abdullah’s vision of “a fair and durable peace in the Middle East remains truer than ever,” while Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised him as “an ardent defender of peace.”
With the death of King Abdullah, the Middle East will need a leader that would check the rise of Iran in the region, and continue to pursue peace and stability for the sake of the world and not just the United States.
Although Saudi Arabia’s is the main supplier of oil to the United States, the way it maintains the price of that commodity has big impact on oil prices worldwide.
And while Saudi Arabia is at odds over Iran over ideology, its government under Abdullah made peace and stability in the region a priority, while at the same time mediating the differences between the West and Muslim countries. President Recip Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said King Abdullah had contributed “to strengthening cooperation and solidarity in the Muslim world, especially concerning the Palestinian question and the situation in Syria.”
Saudi Arabia also continued to modernize under King Abdullah. Modernization programs provided thousands of jobs for migrant workers from Asia, including the Philippines. We have supplied the KSA oil field workers, technicians, as well as managerial level executives.
Thank God, King Abdullah’s successor, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, is unlikely to change the course set by his half-brother and predecessor.
“We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,” he said in his first speech as King of Saudi Arabia.
Salman, 79, was serving as defense minister when Saudi Arabia joined US-led airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.
The new king has also called for unity among Arab and Islamic nations in a clear response to the unrest fermented by the IS.
Salman is experienced in governance. He served for five decades as governor of Riyadh, the nation’s capital and diplomatic center. Under his long tenure, Riyadh’s population grew from 100,000 to seven million and became one of the symbols of modernity in the kingdom and the region.
The world is hoping King Salman indeed continues the reforms and vision of Abdullah.