Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has died and is succeeded by Crown Prince Salman. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has died. He was thought to have been born in 1924 -- and he ruled Saudi Arabia since 2006. He leaves behind a legacy of cautious social and economic reform. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the US, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, he took on the conservative clergy who had promoted an intolerant Islamist message in schools and mosques. "The state is proceeding, with the help of God, in its gradual and studied course of reform," he said, vowing to ignore both conservatives calling for "stagnation and immobility" and liberals seeking a "leap into darkness and reckless adventure". The reforms were slow and only partly successful, but they skewed the dynamic of Saudi policy towards gradual change and made King Abdullah a popular leader among an increasingly young population. His brother Salman is now King. King Salman, thought to be 79, has been crown prince and defense minister since 2012. He has been part of the ruling clique of princes for decades and is thought likely to continue the main thrusts of Saudi strategic policy, including maintaining the alliance with the United States and working towards energy market stability.