Monday, August 01, 2005

Saudi King dies

King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, died today. On the one hand it is a big deal but on the other hand...big deal. While a noteworthy event, it likely won't have any effect on Saudi Arabia's current governing policies or their already shaky relationship with the United States. Crown Prince Abdullah has been the proxy ruler of that nation since Fahd's debilitating stroke in 1995.

Fahd's legacy is a mixed one. From the AP:

During his rule, the portly, goateed Fahd, who rose to the throne in 1982, inadvertently helped fuel the rise of Islamic extremism by making multiple concessions to hard-liners, hoping to boost his Islamic credentials. But then he also brought the kingdom closer to the United States and agreed to a step that enraged many conservatives: the basing of U.S. troops on Saudi soil after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

In his last years, Fahd was more of a figurehead than the actual ruler — so he was sidelined as the close relationship he nurtured with the United States deteriorated after the Sept. 11 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, and many in the U.S. administration blamed kingdom's strict Wahabi school of Islam for fueling terrorism.

This is what happens when a leader doesn't lead. If you try to appease everyone and don't govern on strict principles, you breed discontent from all sides.

Fahd is survived by who knows how many wives and offspring and his age was said to be 84 though we do not know his exact birthdate. Can't those guys be straight with us on anything? Oh well, may he find rest in someone's bosom up there or however that works.