Jan. 23, 2015

Saudi King Dead, Iran Advances

“King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who came to the throne in old age and earned a reputation as a cautious reformer even as the Arab Spring revolts toppled heads of state and Islamic State militants threatened the Muslim establishment that he represented, died on Friday,” reports The New York Times. “Toppled heads” is an interesting choice of words, given the Saudis’ regular use of beheading. Still, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have long been allies, in large part because of oil. The Wall Street Journal reports that even with the ascension of Crown Prince Salman, “[T]he kingdom is likely to continue to pump crude in the face of a global glut, which has helped push prices down by more than 55% since last June.” Saudi Arabia is also an important regional counterweight to both al-Qaida and Iran. And as we now see in Yemen, those are getting harder to come by. In fact, Salman assumes the throne at a time when his nation is surrounded by Iran’s proxies – Syria, Lebanon, and increasingly Iraq and Yemen.

National Review’s David Pryce-Jones adds: “Abdullah made sure that women are still not allowed to drive; that a bookish young man by the name of Raif Badawi is sentenced to a thousand lashes and ten years in prison for suggesting it’s time to reform; that a woman from Myanmar is beheaded in public while screaming that she is innocent; that mosques are built all over the world but Saudi Arabia does not allow any Christian church. In an obituary even more misleading than usual, the New York Times attributed to him ‘a modern sensibility.’”

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