Saturday, January 11, 2020

Sultan of Oman passes away at 79 without an heir after ruling for 50 years, raising fears of a bloody takeover

The Sultan of Oman Qaboos bin Said Al Said has died aged 79, it was announced last night - with his passing without an heir or designated successor creating fresh uncertainty in an unstable Middle East after a reign lasting half a century.

'With great sorrow and deep sadness... the royal court mourns His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who passed away on Friday,' a court statement said.

Three days of mourning will now be marked for the reclusive British-educated leader, who transformed the former Arabian Peninsula backwater into a modern state while shielding it from much of the region's turmoil by his moderate approach to foreign policy. 


His death, reportedly from colon cancer, comes amid heightened tension caused by the continued fallout from the death of Iranian general Qassem Solomeini, whose killing in an American drone strike has placed the region on the brink of war.

Al Said seized power in a 1970 palace coup and pulled his Arabian sultanate into modernity while carefully balancing diplomatic ties between Iran and the US.

The state-run Oman News Agency announced his death late last night on its official Twitter account.

The sultan was believed to have been in poor health and traveled to Belgium for what the court described as a medical checkup last month. The royal court declared three days of mourning.

The news agency mourned the death of the Sultan and praised the 'towering renaissance' he had presided over. It said his 'balanced policy' of mediating between rival camps in a volatile region had earned the world's respect.

The British-educated, reclusive sultan reformed a nation that was home to only three schools and harsh laws banning electricity, radios, eyeglasses and even umbrellas when he took the throne.

Now there are fears that a bloody takeover might occur as he died without a heir.

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