Saudi Arabia King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz died in a hospital at age 90.
King Abdullah was suffering from a lung infection, and was placed on a respirator after he was admitted on December 31st to the Riyadh hospital, named after his father Abdul Aziz.
He died around 1 a.m. on Friday, local time, and his 79-year-old half-brother, Prince Salman, took the crown immediately following the announcement of Abdullah’s death.
Salman had been taking on the Abdullah’s responsibilities for about a year when the king was having bouts of sickness. Salman is known to act as a mediator of disputes within the royal family, and he has spent nearly 50 years as the governor of the capital Riyadh.
King Abdullah was the 5th of his brothers to take the throne and became king in 2005, after his half-brother King Fahd died. He had been married at least 13 times, and has had 4 wives at a time before. He’s also fathered at least 22 children.
King Abdullah has long been a powerful ally of the U.S. Although he was a strict Muslim and his country was home to 15 of the 19 hijackers responsible for the 9/11 attack, he joined America’s fight against Al Qaeda because of its threat against the Saudi Arabia monarchy. He also worked to somewhat modernize the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom while retaining his strict beliefs that allowed him and the rest of the kingdom to treat women like property. King Abdullah cracked down on Al Qaeda militants in 2003 when they fought to violently destroy the monarchy. The 3-year long battle finally led the militants to flee to neighboring Yemen, according to Fox News. The king also acted as a business partner to America in regards to oil, although he put his country’s interests first and continuously tried to keep oil prices as high as the market would pay for it.
While the king maintained a close alliance with Washington, he did frequently take strong positions and get frustrated with U.S. decisions. He was constantly frustrated by Washington’s failure to create a settlement that would end the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and he also pushed the Obama administration to take a tougher stand against Iran, Saudi Arabia’s greatest rival, and give more support to the mainly Sunni rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad. He even tried to get the U.S. to attack Iran, as he said, “Cut off the head off the snake.” King Abdullah also denounced the American-led invasion of Iraq as “an illegal occupation,” but he proposed a peace plan for the Middle East that would recognize Israel by Arab nations, NY Times explains.