Saudi Arabia is trying to hurt the American domestic oil industry by pumping so much oil that it drives down prices so as to make fracking unprofitable. And yet, that helps Americans with low gasoline prices. Saudi Arabia is the center of arch-conservative Sunni Islam, but has been a key American ally against ISIS. Saudi Arabian despotism creates Islamist rebels, but American foreign policy sees it as a force for stability in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia outlaws Christianity within its borders, but tends to be on the side of America’s government.
Now this important but contradictory nation is suddenly facing a crisis. Its king, 90-year-0ld King Abdullah, has died. Its odd laws of succession give the kingship to the various sons of the founding monarch, and, thanks to Islamic polygamy, there are 35 of them. So the throne goes to the various brothers of the previous king, rather than to the next generation. So the new king of Saudi Arabia is 79 years old and reportedly suffers from dementia. [Read more...]