Salman, who delivered a speech on foreign and energy policy for the King shortly before his death, appeared on Saudi television Friday, saying that he would continue the political course of his predecessor, King Abdullah. He named his brother Muqrin, the former governor of Medina and former head of Saudi Intelligence, as his own crown prince and heir, Reuters notes.
Saudi watchers believe that the new king will commit himself to King Abdullah's political stance by continuing to implement the same energy policy and foreign policy. This includes maintaining the Kingdom's alliance with the United States, continuing to back the military campaign against the Islamic State, and support for the drive to oust Syrian President Bashar Al Assad from office. Domestically, he's expected to pursue series of cautious, slow-moving reform initiatives. The new king will face an immediate foreign policy challenge in Yemen due to the resignation of ally Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi on Thursday.
The succession, which has been reported to have been "smooth," is a continuation of the rule of Saudi Arabia Founder Ibn Saud's sons, who have ruled the country since the latter's death in 1953. Saud had created the contemporary state of Saudi Arabia in 1932 after a series of military conquests and diplomatic maneuvers. Salman, born in 1935, is one of seven sons of Saud's favorite wife, Hassa bint Ahmad Al Sudairi. The seven are known as the Sudairi Seven, a political and economic powerhouse within the extensive House of Saud.
Salman served as the Mayor of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, between 1954-1960, becoming governor of Riyadh province in 1963, a position which he held for 48 years before stepping down to become Defense Minister in 2011. He went on to become Crown Prince in 2012. During his time in Riyadh, he oversaw the development of infrastructure, becoming known for his anti-corruption position. Within the royal family, he has been described as arbiter in family disputes. Salman is reported to have supervised fundraising efforts for the Afghan mujahedeen in the 1980s.
It is commonly reported that Salman suffers from dementia and Alzheimer's, and he is reported to have suffered a stroke in 2012, and to have undergone spinal surgery recently.