Saudi Arabia Government Paper Essay

Saudi Arabia’s role in the Arab and Islamic worlds, its control of the world’s largest reserves of oil, and its strategic location make its alliance important to the United States. Saudi Arabia has been through many changes within the past century in their economy and government. Saudi Arabia has a unique transition of power based on religion and has involvement with the United States because of the war in Iraq. Saudi Arabia’s location, government, religion, economy, and its relationship with the United States and its neighboring countries all are aspects that explains why Saudi Arabia functions the way it does today.

Saudi Arabia located on the Arabian Peninsula dates back from the earliest civilizations approximately 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. The actual organization of the state of Saudi Arabia began in central Arabia in about 1750. The founding of Islam by Muhammad helped the beginning of Saudi Arabia. The country contains the two holy pilgrimage cities of Mecca and Medina. The Islamic calendar begins in 622, the year of the Muhammad’s flight from Mecca. A series of invasions in 1517 led to the Ottoman Empire taking control (“Saudi Arabia: History, Geography, Government, and Culture”).

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Unfortunately, it was divided into separate sovereign states in the middle of the 18th century. In 1745, the Wahhabi movement swept across Arabia calling for the purification and reform of Islam. However, by 1818 the Wahhabis had been driven out of power again by the Ottomans and their Egyptian allies. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is almost entirely the creation of King Ibn Saud. He recaptured the city of Riyadh in 1901 and declared himself as the new leader of the Arab nationalist movement. He had established Wahhabi dominance by 1906.

Then, he conquered the cities of Nejd and Hejaz by 1926 (“Saudi Arabia: History, Geography, Government, and Culture”). The Hejaz and Nejd regions were merged to form the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. At the time, Saudi Arabia was an absolute monarchy ruled by the Islamic Law known as the Shari’a. Throughout the years, there were many kings that reigned Saudi Arabia based on the family line. In June of 1982, King Khalid died announcing Fahd the King and Prime Minister in a smooth transition. King Fahd suffered a stroke in November of 1995.

From 1997 and on, Crown Prince Abdullah took on many of the responsibilities of running the government. Upon King Fahd’s death on August 1, 2005, Abdullah assumed the throne as King. Prince Sultan, Minister of Defense and Aviation, became Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister (“Saudi Arabia: History, Geography, Government, and Culture. “). This position makes him next in line for the throne. Saudi Arabia is located on the Arabian Peninsula on the west by the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea; on the east by the Persian Gulf, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates; on the south by Yemen and Oman; and on the north by Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait.

Saudi Arabia used to share a neutral zone with Iraq and another with Kuwait (“Saudi Arabia: History, Geography, Government, and Culture”). Today, they are now divided amongst the countries. The largest city located in Saudi Arabia is Riyadh, the capital. Saudi Arabia is also known for its two holy cities known as Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia has a very strategic position for importing and exporting its major economical product of oil because it is surrounded by large bodies of water on two sides. The location of Saudi Arabia is important to the United States and other countries because of its major sources of oil.

The relationship between Iraq and Saudi Arabia is essential to the United States. Although Saudi Arabia disagreed with the invasion of Iraq after the terrorist attacks on America, now after seeing the efforts since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, it is obvious that it hopes for and supports the success of the United States’ efforts to restore order in Iraq. This position does not necessarily mean that the Saudi Arabians have agreed with everything the United States has done in Iraq. The United States and Saudi Arabian perspectives on Iraq will be similar because both countries want to implement the restoration of peace and order.

Even in the best of times over the past, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iraq has been uneasy. There have even been many instances of extreme hostility. It is hard to believe that with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein that things will automatically be settled between the two countries (McMillan). The United States is fortunate to have Saudi Arabia in close cooperation to help free the world of terrorism and to hold those responsible that financially support terrorism. The relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia has changed over the past decade because of the terrorist attacks.

Even though Saudi Arabia and the U. S. have experienced controversy before, the two realize the common grounds they are standing for at this time and have come together to help in supporting one another. Saudi Arabia and the United States both are concerned about regional security, oil exports and imports, and sustainable development in the present and future. The United States relies on Saudi Arabia as a leading source of imported oil. Saudi Arabia alone provides more than one million barrels per day of oil to the United States. The United States is Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner.

Also, Saudi Arabia is the largest U. S. export market in the Middle East. Along with economic ties between the two countries, diplomatic relations came into existence in 1933 (“Saudi Arabia and the United States: Take Joint Action against Terror Financing”). The U. S. embassy opened in the city of Jeddah in 1944, but moved to Riyadh in 1984. The Jeddah embassy became a U. S. consulate along with another one in the city of Dhahran. Saudi Arabia is known as the birthplace of Islam, one of the world’s major monotheistic religions. Saudi Arabia’s religion is crucial in the way their government runs.

Their government is centered on their religious beliefs. The central institution of Saudi Arabian Government is the monarchy (McMillan). The Basic Law adopted in 1992 declared that Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the sons and grandsons of King Abd Al Aziz Al Saud. It also declared that the Holy Qur’an is the constitution of the country and is governed on the basis of Islamic law, or the Shari’a. The King’s powers are limited because he must observe the Shari’a and other Saudi Arabian traditions. The Kings of Saudi Arabia have gradually overtime developed a central government.

Since 1953, each King has appointed a Council of Ministers. It has the authority to advice on general policy and directs the activities of the growing bureaucracy. This council consists of a Prime Minister, the First and Second Deputy Prime Ministers, 20 ministers, two Ministers of State, and a small number of advisers and heads of major self-governing organizations. The Minister of Defense is also the Second Deputy Prime Minister. The ruling of legislation is under the Council of Ministers and the Shura Council that is ratified by royal decree and abided by the Shari’a.

Justice is administered according to the Shari’a by a system of religious courts. These judges are appointed by the King on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council that is composed of 12 superior judges. The King acts as the highest court of appeal and has the power to pardon. Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 provinces that are governed by Princes or close relatives of the royal family. Each governor has been appointed by the King. In March of 1992, King Fahd issued several new rulings that outlined the basic orders of government.

For the first time, procedures concerning the royal succession were adjusted. The King’s political reform program also established a National Consultative Council. These appointed members have advisory powers to review and give advice on issues concerning the public. It also outlined a framework for councils at the regional or local level. In September of 1993, King Fahd additionally reformed the National Consultative Council by appointing members and setting up the procedures for the new council’s operations. He set up the term limitations for the Council of Ministers by limiting them to 4 years in office.

Also, the members of the 13 provincial councils along with their operating policy were announced. In February, March, and April of 2005, Saudi Arabians voted in the country’s first public elections in more than 50 years. Unfortunately, all women and just male members of the military were not allowed to vote. In 2005, the membership of the Consultative Council was finally expanded to 150 members. The number of members continuously changes during expansions of the council because many of the members have not been reappointed. The role of the council is expanding as it gradually gains new experience.

In November of 2006, King Abdullah formulated an Allegiance Committee that will from now on select the Crown Prince. As Saudi Arabia continues to implement changes in its government, it becomes more similar to the United States’ government. The United States and Saudi Arabia are similar and different in many aspects of their governments. Each government has an advisory council that helps make executive decisions. Saudi Arabia has the Council of Ministers that is appointed and under the King. The United States has the Cabinet that is appointed by the President.

Also, both countries have a Supreme Court with regional and local courts under each. Even though these two systems do not run exactly the same, one can see how each has similar characteristics. The major differences in government between the U. S. and Saudi Arabia are the basis of freedom, religion, and equality. The United States has the freedom to make decisions based on what religion and what kind of lifestyle one would like to live. In Saudi Arabia, 100 percent of the people there are Islamic. Saudi Arabians have no freedom to decide what religion they want to be.

In the United States, each person is seen equal. Women are allowed to serve in judicial positions in the United States. There is separation between men and women in Saudi Arabia. Men and women are not allowed to attend public events together and are segregated in the work place. Even though there are differences between the two countries, the United States and Saudi Arabia have found common grounds to come together on and support one another in the best ways possible. Some current events happening today in Saudi Arabia are affecting the United States.

These changes that are taking place are in the Saudi Arabian government and a halt that has been placed on fuel oil exports in Saudi Arabia. As technology continues to develop, Saudi Arabia has been introduced to better things. It now has easier access to the outside world. When King Abdullah came to reign in 2005, many of his friends predicted that he would make modern changes in the Saudi Arabian government. These may seem unimportant to others, but these changes to Saudi Arabians are a major step towards modernization.

Even with all of these changes taking place, the question arise of how will Saudi Arabia be able to handle its power and wealth based on the government and oil industry. As Saudi Arabians experience more freedoms, they will begin to want more such as having control of their own politics. The main reason it has taken such a long time for Saudi Arabia to modernize itself is because of a compact made with the Wahhabist clergy almost nine decades ago that would not allow for a liberal and secular society. The society is experiencing new changes not only in the government, but also in the economy.

Saudi Arabia’s economy is not only important to itself, but also it is important to many other countries because they are a major source of oil in the world. Saudi Arabia’s economy affects many other economies. Recently, there has been an announcement that Saudi Aramco, the world’s top oil exporter, will halt fuel exports three months ahead of the summer of 2009. This is due to the raging demand for power generation fuels. They are halting these exports because they are predicting that a loss of gas will boost their demand for utility-grade fuel. Saudi Aramco hopes the demand will grow and give them a major economic booster.

Not only is the government working hard, but companies in Saudi Arabia are also working hard to implement changes to help further Saudi Arabia in the world today. The government of Saudi Arabia is working hard to implement a number of political and economic reforms to encourage political participation, promote economic growth, increase foreign investment, and expand employment opportunities. Saudi Arabia is updating and modernizing its academic curricula, and monitoring its religious schools. Hopefully, Saudi Arabia can continue in a path that will help benefit not only itself but also the others around it.

As these changes take place, Saudi Arabia is in my opinion becoming a better place for all. “Works Cited” Page: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. “Country Reports on Human RightsPractices. ” 4 March 2002. U. S. Department of State. 22 February 2009;lt;http://www. state. gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/nea/8296. htm;gt;. “Saudi Arabia: History, Geography, Government, and Culture. ” 2007. Information Please: Allyou need to know. 22 February 2009 ;lt;http://www. infoplease. com/ipa/A0107947. html;gt;. McMillan, Joseph. “United States Institute of Peace Special Report: Iraq and Its Neighbors. January 2006. Saudi Arabia and Iraq: Oil, Religion, and an Enduring Rivalry. 2009February 20 <http://www. usip. org/pubs/specialreports/sr157. pdf>. “Political, Economic, and Social Inititatives: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. ” May 2008. RoyalEmbassy of Saudi Arabia. 22 February 2009<http://www. saudiembassy. net/ReportLink/Reform_Report_May08. pdf>. “Saudi Arabia and the United States: Take Joint Action against Terror Financing. ” June 2004. Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. 20 February 2009<http://www. saudiembassy. net/ReportLink/Newsletter_JPC_June04. pdf>.

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