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Saudi Arabia Rocked by Protests

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Saudi Kingdom Rocked by Protests

Saudi monarchy may be the world's most repressive regime.

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by Stephen Lendman

On February 14, 1945, Franklin Roosevelt met with Saudi King Ibn Saud on the USS Quincy. A nearly seven decade relationship followed.

America was guaranteed access to what the State Department called "a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history."

It explains much about Washington's obsession with controlling the region. It has around two-thirds of the world's proved oil reserves and major natural gas supplies.

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Little wonder America supports what some observers call the world's most repressive regime. State terror is policy. Freedom is prohibited. Authority rests solely with the ruling Al Saud monarch and members of the royal family. 

Currently King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz holds power. Nearly aged 88, he's in poor health. Salman bin Abdul Aziz is crown prince. He also has health problems. A stroke left him bedridden for weeks. They and other family members rule despotically.

Democracy is strictly forbidden. The nation's Constitution affords ordinary citizens and other residents no rights. Women are especially marginalized and denied.

Political parties and national elections are prohibited. Saudi kings appoint a Council of Ministers. It includes a prime minister, first and second deputies, 20 ministers, various advisors, and heads of major autonomous organizations.

The Kingdom has 13 provinces. Ruling monarchs appoint governors. They're either princes or close royal family relatives. In 1993, ministers became subject to four-year term limitations. In 1997, a Consultative Council was expanded from 60 to 90 members.

Media are tightly controlled. Most web sites are blocked. Islam is the Kingdom's state religion. Observing others is prohibited.

Anyone dissenting is subject to arbitrary arrest and detention. Political critics, bloggers, academics, foreign nationals, and humanitarian activists are especially vulnerable.

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Saudi journalist Khaled al-Harbi said annual Kingdom revenue exceeds $400 billion. Amounts fluctuate depending on oil prices. At the same time, the average Saudi citizen earns around $400. Al-Harbi says 60% of the population live in poverty. 

Official Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia (Shura) figures claim 22% of Saudis are impoverished (around three million people). Including migrants and other non-residents, it's believed the true figure approaches al-Harbi's estimate. 

A wealth disparity chasm between rich and poor exists. Income depends on how royal family members distribute it. They and privileged elites get most of it. Most Saudis go begging. Migrants and other non-citizens fare worse.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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