In any monarchy, court gossip is the coin of the realm. Every observer of Saudi Arabia has his or her own theories of who is up and who is down, who is joining with whom and who has betrayed former allies, and who is with America and who is against America among the princes of the al-Saעud. Like most gossip, most court gossip is wrong. The safe rule regarding the family politics of the al-Saעud is that “those who know do not talk, and those who talk do not know.” Joseph Kechichian has therefore tackled the hardest question there is in the analysis of Saudi Arabian politics, and does as good a job as any outsider can hope to do. While those who talk usually do not know, Kechichian has talked to some who do know, including many members of the ruling family. His conclusions about future successions in Saudi Arabia, of necessity are speculative, but they are well informed.
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