Saudi Arabia Index
Constitutional reforms - after having been promised since the era of King Feisal - were implemented by King Fahd in 1992. The resulting Constitutional Government is radically different from Western style social order. Article 1 of the Basic Law of Government stipulates that "God's Book and the Sunnah" are the substantive constitution of Saudi Arabia, being only amended (not changed) by reforms of state organization. Saudi Arabian monarchy is religion bound. Furthermore, the new Consultative Council (Shura Council, Majlis al-Shura) is subject to nomination and re-nomation by the king, not to election by the people.
Speeches in the 11,000 mosques are pre-censored by administrative officials, women are not allowed to acquire driving licenses. In 1995, more than 150 delinquents were put to death by being publicly beheaded with a sword; thiefs are punished by cutting off their hand. Islamists openly challenge the Saud dynasty with its 6000 Princes for decadent and corrupt lifestyle. The King submits two of the five secret services directly to his command. Possible successors of the very sick monarch are the Princes Naif, Sultan, and Bandar. An option for a non-dynastic government could be Ahmed Saki el-Jamani, a former oil minister now businessman in London.
The seemingly absolute power of Arabian monarchy has slightly been smoothed by the Islamic rule to take decisions by consultation. The firm belief that greater wisdom, longer experience, and higher knowledge are more likely to lead to the correct decision is an ancient force behind the Consultative Council. However, the constitutional reforms are not likely to concede to any of the western demands for women's rights and free speech.
Parties: There are no opposition parties in Saudi Arabia. The Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights under the professor of physics Muhammad Massari is a militant Islamist Saudi opposition, currently operating from London. Massari is now (Feb 1996) under pressure of the British Government to leave for the Caribbeans. His movement is well-funded by rich members of the clandestine opposition. Another opposition movement is being funded by Ussama Ibn Ladin (Osama bin Laden) and operates from Sudan and Afghanistan.
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