The recent appointment of 48-year old Prince Abdulaziz to Deputy Foreign Minister by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is a clear signal to the world that the reformist monarch of the world’s largest oil exporter plans to have his sons continue his legacy once he leaves the scene. Last year King Abdullah appointed his eldest son Prince Miteb to head the Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG) — one of the main pillars of Saudi Arabia’s institutions. It is indeed in America’s national security interest to work closely with the sons of King Abdullah since they are more likely to continue their father’s reformist agenda. Prince Miteb is a graduate of Sandhurst and Prince Abdulaziz is well versed in the details of U.S.-Saudi relations. Both men will continue to support the institutions their father has put in place to ensure the gradual transition of the Kingdom into a more inclusive and open society.
The National Dialogue is a major forum for the exchange of ideas — once taboo subjects are open for discussion — King Abdullah instituted when he became monarch. The King’s efforts at interfaith dialogue among Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus is designed to ensure that religious extremists do not hijack faith for narrow political gain. And equally important, King Abdullah realizes that Saudi Arabia must always play a stabilizing role in international oil markets — unlike the clerics in Iran who use every opportunity to use oil as a political weapon. The three aforementioned goals are legacies of King Abdullah that his sons will continue to promote long after the the former has left the political arena.