August 5, 2005
By Hal Lindsey
© 2005

King Fahd of Saudi Arabia died this week at about age 83 after having ruled the Saudi kingdom for 23 years, reported all the news accounts. Actually, Fahd ruled for about 13 years, suffering a stroke in 1995 that put Crown Prince Abdullah in charge of the day-to-day affairs of the kingdom.

King Fahd’s role for most of the last decade was not unlike that of the lead character in the movie, “Weekend at Bernie’s,” in which the king would be rolled out for some ceremonial meetings, during which a royal would bend as if listening to the king and then repeating what Fahd allegedly had said. With his death, Crown Prince Abdullah assumed the throne as King Abdullah.

Saudi Arabia is unique in that it is the only country in the world today named after its ruling family. In 1744, Muhammed al Saud entered into an agreement with Mahammad Abdel Wahhab, founder of the Wahhabi sect of Islam, which is currently followed by Osama bin Laden and his cohorts. In effect, al Saud agreed to supply the generals for Wahhab’s jihad, Wahhab would supply the foot soldiers, and, together, they would rule the region.

By 1901, they had consolidated the Saudi peninsula, and by 1932 the state of Saudi Arabia was proclaimed. King Fahd was the son of Abdel Azziz al-Saud, first king and founder of the modern state.

What happens in Saudi Arabia is of critical importance to the United States thanks to America’s dependence on foreign oil. Five extended families in the Middle East own about 60 percent of the world’s oil. The Saud family, which rules Saudi Arabia, controls more than a third of that amount. The House of Saud is therefore, the fulcrum upon which the global economy teeters.

This has placed the world’s economy on a dangerously shaky foundation. King Fahd still has some 35 living brothers who are mostly elderly men. Between them, they have hundreds of sons, thousands of grandsons. Altogether, the Saudi Royal family is thought to have as many 10,000 princes. That number is expected to double in the next generation. After Abdel Aziz, the succession in the family has been horizontal. The crown passing from brother to brother. King Abdullah is in his 80s, and his reign is likely to be a short one. Quick successions in turn are bound to encourage and activate the younger aspirants to the throne.

Here are a few reasons why this fact causes U.S. policymakers some sleepless nights:

Saudi Arabia controls the largest share of the world’s oil and serves as the market regulator for the global petroleum industry.

No country is more dependent on Saudi oil that the United States. Shutting off the Saudi spigot would be devastating to both the U.S. and global economies. For decades, the majority of Saudis and surrounding Muslim countries have believed that a dysfunctional, out-of-touch and out-of-control royal family controls the Saudi oil reserves. They have hated them because they believe that the Saudi royal family is too liberal to be in charge of Islam’s holiest places and its wealth.

The Saudi royal family has had to placate the Wahabbi fundamentalists and to literally bribe them to keep from being overthrown.

News of Fahd’s death reveals how the world senses that there is the danger. Even though Abdullah ran the kingdom for the last decade, King Fahd’s death caused the price of oil to set a new record, reaching beyond the $62 per barrel mark. The oil dependent West realizes that any hint of problems with the line of succession could throw the world’s oil supplies into chaos.

With Fahd’s death, people are just now beginning to consider: What happens after King Abdullah?

The real irony is this — democratic reforms are probably America’s worst-case scenario. Recent limited elections permitted by Abdullah demonstrated this danger. It revealed that if truly free elections were held in Saudi Arabia, America’s most important source of imported oil would be handed over to a democratically elected core of devout Wahabbi-following Islamic fundamentalists. And they are the principle source of al-Qaida’s manpower and funding. It would, in effect, hand over the strategic control of the global economy to Osama bin-Laden and his cohorts.

This would fit in with all the other biblical signs that we are indeed in the “last days.” Apart from some drastic reforms to this situation now, the world economy is in for some perilous and chaotic times in the near future.