The “World Tribune” daily uncovered Monday that the United States is said to have disclosed that Saudi King Abdullah was dying.
Diplomatic sources said the administration of US President Barack Obama relayed a photograph that showed Abdullah with a breathing tube.
The sources said the photograph was taken by White House personnel during Obama’s meeting with the Saudi king outside Riyadh on March 28.
“The Saudis specifically did not want any photograph that showed Abdullah with the tube,” a source said. “But there was a White House photographer that took the picture for what he said was history.”
The photograph was said to have been relayed to members of the White House press corps. Within a day, an image of the Saudi king with the breathing tube was sent to the Saudi opposition.
“The photograph was a message by the White House that Abdullah is going down and so is the rest of the family,” the source said.
The sources said the Saudi royal court had demanded that no photographs be taken of Abdullah with the breathing tube. They said the royal court suggested either long shots or close-ups after the king had concealed the tube under his cloak.
The photograph of Abdullah was released after Obama and the king failed to make any headway in the late-night meeting. It marked the first visit by Obama to Saudi Arabia in his more than five years as president. Later, the White House website removed all but one photograph of Obama’s meeting with the Saudi king.
The sources said the White House limited Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia to several hours after his advisers determined that the meeting with Abdullah would be unsuccessful. They said the administration, amid its rapprochement with Iran, has sought to isolate Saudi Arabia while wooing other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, particularly Oman, Qatar and
the United Arab Emirates.
On the same level, the daily highlighted that the Saudi King Abdullah was said to be dying of cancer.This comes as an opposition research group said Abdullah was diagnosed with lung cancer.
The Washington-based Institute for Gulf Affairs, quoting sources in Saudi Arabia and the United States, said Abdullah was told he could be dead by the end of 2014.
“The king has been told by his medical team he may have as little as six months left to live,” the institute said.
In a statement on April 17, the institute, aligned with the opposition, said Abdullah was “suffering from terminal lung cancer.”
“The recent scramble to designate a line of succession is not surprising given that King Abdullah has only a few months left, due to advancing age in addition to his terminal illness,” institute policy analyst Rachel Hertzman said.
The institute said the king’s deterioration sparked a series of appointments. Over the last month, Abdullah, reported to be from 90 to 98 years old, appointed his half-brother Prince Muqrin as successor to the crown prince and dismissed intelligence chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan.
Abdullah was expected to announce another series of appointments over the next few days. The institute said the appointments have intensified the power struggle within the royal family.
“Observers expect the news of Abdullah’s condition to lead to intense vying for power among the members of the vast ruling family,” the institute said.