Saudi state television showed images of King Abdullah meeting with senior government officials today after he underwent back surgery in Riyadh on Nov. 17.
The king was shown with Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, the heir to the throne, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and other senior princes and officials. A day after the operation, the Royal Court said the surgery was “successful.”
The king’s medical condition raised questions about the line of succession in the world’s largest oil exporter as the Middle East goes through unprecedented political change. Abdullah appointed Mohammed bin Nayef as Saudi Arabia’s interior minister, marking the first time the job has passed to the younger generation. The king hasn’t named a second deputy premier since the death of Crown Prince Sultan in October 2011.
“The king might now announce who the number three will be,” said Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai.
King Abdullah has tried to keep Saudi Arabia free from the unrest that swept through the Arab world last year, leading to civil war in Syria and frequent protests in Saudi neighbor Bahrain. He’s also fighting high unemployment and a threat from al-Qaeda.
The king was born in Riyadh in 1924, the 13th son of Abdul Aziz, according to the website of the Saudi Embassy in Washington. His heir-apparent, Salman, was born in 1935.
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