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The arrest of 208 high-ranking individuals in November 2017 on suspicion of corruption suggests that the House of Saud faces serious challenges. King Salman’s son, Mohammad bin Salman, has consolidated power in a way that contravenes the traditional rules of succession of the Saudi ruling dynasty. But amid foreign policy setbacks and a mixed record with domestic reforms, it is far from certain that the Crown Prince will succeed his father on the throne.
Dr. Udo Steinbach
In many parts of the world, the outlook for political stability in 2018 will depend on aging, often long-serving politicians. Some are senescent leaders trying to manage a generational transition, others have caught their second wind and are bracing for a long run. Here is a short list of rulers who are losing their grip, handling tricky successions, or building their legacies with a late burst of vigor. They are a key human element in geopolitics.
Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is stepping down after 38 years in office – one of Africa’s rare elder statesmen who relinquishes power voluntarily. His designated successor, Joao Lourenco, handily won a surprisingly peaceful general election. Now he must balance factions in the ruling party, the needs of an increasingly restive urban populace, and the imperative of diversifying Angola’s oil-dependent economy.
Anonymous GIS Expert
Hassan Rouhani’s reelection
as Iran’s president was greeted with euphoria by his reform-minded supporters,
but has only sharpened divisions in a deeply polarized country. Supreme leader
Ayatollah Khamenei may be frail and ailing, but he still dominates the Islamic
Republic, and his conservative supporters are well-positioned to steer any
succession. The new U.S. administration’s attempts to isolate Iran will only