King Salman of Saudi Arabia, 84, underwent, Thursday, July 23, " successfully " an operation to remove his gallbladder, three days after being admitted to hospital, the royal cabinet said. It is rare for Saudi Arabia to communicate on the state of health of the aging monarch who has ruled the kingdom since 2015, the world's largest exporter of crude oil and the Arab world's largest economy.
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King Salman is the second ruler of an Arab Gulf country to be hospitalized. The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, 91, traveled to the United States on Thursday for medical treatment. King Salman " underwent today (Thursday) a laparoscopic operation to remove the gallbladder at the King Faisal specialized hospital in Riyadh, " the royal cabinet said in a statement released by the official SPA agency. He will remain recovering in hospital for some time after the " successful " operation , the statement added.
On Wednesday, the Saudi sovereign chaired by videoconference from the hospital a meeting of the Council of Ministers. His hospitalization Monday for an inflammation of the gallbladder prompted the postponement of a visit to Riyadh by Iraqi Prime Minister Moustafa al-Kazimi.
A more assertive international policy
Under the reign of King Salman, the ultra-conservative kingdom which applies a harsh version of Islam launched post-oil economic reforms but also adopted a more assertive foreign policy and went to war against the Yemeni rebels, supported by Iran, its regional rival.
Saudi Arabia has faced a series of controversies since King Salman's son Mohammed was appointed crown prince in June 2017, particularly after the October 2018 assassination of the Saudi journalist and power critic in Riyadh, Jamal Khashoggi, at his country's consulate in Istanbul.
The crown prince has been named by Turkish and American officials as the sponsor of the murder. Riyadh claimed that it was committed by Saudi agents who acted alone and without receiving orders from their leaders.