|Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz|
AFP - The heir to the Saudi throne, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, died Saturday at more than 80 years, while King Abdullah, 87, is hospitalized in Saudi Arabia, amid turmoil in the Arab world. Prince Sultan, half-brother of the king, "has died of an illness Saturday at dawn abroad", the royal palace announced in a press release stating that the funeral would take place Tuesday in Riyadh. Long ill, Prince Sultan died in the United States, while President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen neighbor, is challenged for almost nine months by the street while in Syria and the bloody suppression of demonstrations against the regime Bashar al-Assad continues.
This is the first time that Saudi Crown Prince dies before coming to power. With his death, Prince Nayef, 78, interior minister and the king's half-brother, is called in logic to become crown prince. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Prince Sultan would "regret", while stressing the continuity of the relationship between Washington and Riyadh. British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "saddened" by the prince's death, paying tribute to "his wisdom and expertise in international affairs." In Jordan, King Abdullah II observed a minute's silence in memory of the Saudi prince to the participants of World Economic Forum, while Syrian President Assad expressed his condolences "on behalf of the Syrian people" the king of Arabia.
Prince Sultan, also defense minister, was in June in the U.S. for medical care.
He had undergone surgery in July and no news had filtered from the state of his health. According to Western diplomats, he was suffering from colon cancer. He was admitted to the intensive care unit of Presbyterian Hospital in New York shortly after his arrival in the United States and was in a state of clinical death for over a month. Born in 1931 according to his official biography, but older according to his biographers, Prince Sultan had left in recent years the management of affairs of the kingdom because of his extended stays abroad between treatment and convalescence.
He was the head of the Department of Defense and Aviation since 1963 and was modernized Saudi forces, concluding major contracts with the weapons the United States and Great Britain. His death comes as King Abdullah in Riyadh was hospitalized after another back surgery. Television on Wednesday showed his hospital bed, receiving royal dignitaries and chatting with them. The king had surgery in November 2010 in New York for a herniated disc, complicated by a hematoma. He underwent a second operation in early December, before going on a period of convalescence in Morocco. February 23, he had returned home after three months of absence. The age of King Abdullah and the foreign hospital had fueled rumors about the future direction of the kingdom, a key player in politics in the Middle East and exporter of oil.
The successor to the crown prince should be chosen by a restricted Council of Al-Saud, head of the dynasty of Saudi Arabia since its inception in 1932, for the first time in the history of the kingdom. The Council was created following a reform of succession arrangements introduced in 2006 to ensure a peaceful transition of power in this ultra-conservative Gulf monarchy. Clearly, the interior minister, Prince Nayef, who is expected to become crown prince, after his appointment in March 2009 by the King to the post of second deputy prime minister. Since the death in 1953, the founder of the kingdom, King Abdel Aziz, son of his five successive head of the oil power.