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A history of the kingdom of saudi arabia and its political system

Fahd 1982 to 2005 Abdullah 2005 to present As well as approving proposed legislation, the Shura Council has the power to summon and question government ministers. In March 2004, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prince Sultan - now crown prince - said there would not be elections for the Shura Council in the foreseeable future, but he did not rule out the possibility at some point in the future.

While the king and senior princes maintain the ancient Arabian tradition of the majlis - a form of open assembly - in their palaces, to give ordinary citizens the right to present petitions or air grievances, popular political participation has always been restricted and parties are banned.

In October 2003, under pressure from home and abroad, the government announced plans to set up municipal elections with half the seats up for election. The plan was given a cautious welcome by the public, but critics of the regime saw it as merely a token gesture.

A history of the kingdom of saudi arabia and its political system

The succession Much of the speculation in the Western media about uncertainty surrounding the succession in Saudi Arabia is either exaggerated or wide of the mark. In the short term, at least, the picture is clear. After that, the succession is less certain. All the sons of King Abdul Aziz are of a considerable age. At some point, the issue of handing power to the second generation will have to be faced - although as yet this is not under discussion.

  1. In many cases it was impossible to determine the legal basis for incarceration and whether the detention complied with international norms and standards.
  2. There were some Shia judges.
  3. Militants have repeatedly targeted foreigners Angered by what was perceived as unwarranted interference in domestic matters, the Saudi leadership was reluctant to take action.
  4. In 2006 the Allegiance Commission, a council comprising 35 members of the royal family, was formed to participate in the selection of the crown prince. The Basic Law does not provide for freedom of association, and the government strictly limited this right in practice.
  5. In the short term, at least, the picture is clear. American pressure on the Saudi government to crack down on Islamic charities, change the school curriculum and liberalise and democratise political life increased.

While the kingdom faces some difficult choices in the years ahead, talk of the collapse of the House of Saud is unrealistic, at least in the foreseeable future. For a start, it is a huge structure, with an estimated 7,000 princes, some in very influential positions. While differences exist over such issues as relations with the West, and political and economic liberalisation, the family is united in its desire to keep control of the kingdom.

Furthermore, it would be wrong to overlook the fact that the family has many loyal supporters within the kingdom. Nascent reform The aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks and the US-led invasion of Iraq changed the political climate in the Gulf region as a whole. Saudi Arabia, in particular, came in for harsh criticism from the US for allowing a milieu to develop in the kingdom in which the perpetrators of the bombings could have lived unchecked and money could be channelled to militant Islamic groups.

American pressure on the Saudi government to crack down on Islamic charities, change the school curriculum and liberalise and democratise political life increased. Khobar siege, May 2004: Militants have repeatedly targeted foreigners Angered by what was perceived as unwarranted interference in domestic matters, the Saudi leadership was reluctant to take action.

Constitutional framework

But a series of suicide bomb attacks inside the kingdom appeared to convince the government that action should be taken on two fronts, with a crackdown on Islamist militants and the first tentative introduction of reforms. The initiative for the kingdom's nascent reform process has come from Crown Prince Abdullah. He has chaired a series of national dialogue meetings, attended by 60 men and women - clergy, academics and leading opinion-formers in society.

  1. Nascent reform The aftermath of the 11 September attacks and the US-led invasion of Iraq changed the political climate in the Gulf region as a whole.
  2. At some point, the issue of handing power to the second generation will have to be faced - although as yet this is not under discussion.
  3. The government bases its legitimacy on its interpretation of sharia Islamic law and the 1992 Basic Law, which specifies that the rulers of the country shall be male descendants of the founder King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud.
  4. According to Ministry of Interior regulations, a male guardian must apply for and collect a passport for women and minors.
  5. Saudi arabia's crown prince mohammed bin salman is risking political and regional instability by dismantling a decades-old system of consensus rule, analysts, including watch.

The crown prince has stressed in public - for the benefit of opponents inside the royal family as much as those outside - that the kingdom has no choice but to proceed with the dialogue and introduce changes in its political and social life. Change is likely to be slow.

Compared with all other Arab states, Saudi Arabia is inherently conservative. Crown Prince Abdullah knows that he will be unable to introduce overnight reforms to the political system, school curricula or other sensitive areas.

Instead, he is using these preliminary stages of the debate to test the water and see how far he can push things. BBC Monitoringbased in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.