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Constitutional Background

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.

History and News

  • 25 June 1996: A bomb attack kills 19 US soldiers at an air base near Dhahran. 
  • 31 May 1996: Four young Saudi dissidents are executed for the Riyadh bomb attack of 13 Nov 1995. 
  • 21 Feb 1996: King Fahd resumed his office after two months of rulership by Prince Abdullah during the King's sickness. 
  • 13 Nov 1995: A car-bomb in Riad kills seven persons, five of them American military and civilian advisers for National Guard training. The "Tigers of the Golf", "Islamist Movement for Change", and "Fighting Advocates of God" claim responsibility. 
  • 2 Aug 1995: King Fahd replaces 16 ministers. Important changes are those in Finance (Fuleiman Al-Suleim), Oil (Ali Nuaimi), and Information (Fouad Al-Farsi). 
  • 28 June 1995, Dubai, Katar: Saudi Arabia's King Fahd acknowledges Katar's new emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa ath-Thani who successfully revolted against his father Sheikh Khalifa
  • 1994: Demonstrations after arrest of fundamentalist Salman el-Auda
  • 1993: King Fahd implements the Shura-Council whose 60 members are all royalists. 
  • 1991: King Fahd announces that the old system of ministerial appointment for life would be changed to an appointment period of four years. 
  • 1975: Assassination of King Faisal and succession of King Khalid
  • 1962: King Faisal promises to implement a Shura-Council. 
  • 1932: The Beduin leader Ibn Saud (Abd el-Asis Ibn Abd el-Rahman) creates the kingdom and names the dynasty it after himselve.
  • 1920s: Series of hostile and blody takeovers on the Arabian peninsula.

For methodology see: Comparing Constitutions and International Constitutional Law.
© 1994 - December 16th, 2010 / For corrections please contact A. Tschentscher.