(Reuters) Key political risks to watch in Saudi Arabia

The world’s leading oil exporter Saudi Arabia faces rising tensions with regional rival Iran and turmoil in two neighbouring countries hit by the wave of Arab unrest this spring as it tackles changes at the top of its ruling family.

The death of Crown Prince Sultan in October led to conservative Interior Minister Prince Nayef’s promotion to King Abdullah’s heir only a week after the octogenarian monarch had his third back operation within a year.

The stability of Saudi Arabia is of global importance since the kingdom sits on more than a fifth of the world’s oil reserves, is a significant owner of dollar assets and acts as Middle East lynchpin of U.S. security policy.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Saudi Arabia