It may seem strange that Arab monarchical systems are more straightforward than their republic counterparts despite the fact that the former follow hereditary succession, which includes traditions that are not considered contemporary in a modern systemic sense. One of the merits of monarchical systems is that to a large degree, one is able to determine where the regime is headed, whereas the future of republics is uncertain and no one can predict what will happen if the president disappears, nor guess what will become of the regime.
Within this context, Saudi Arabia has taken decisive and important steps towards controlling its future and safeguarding its political stability after Saudi television aired the constitutional redraft last week, as decreed by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz. It is important to remember that there were no reasons to force this decision to come about; there is no crisis in the regime nor in the country that lives under its king and a crown prince who the public has pledged allegiance to. Saudi is stable on a political, economic and security level, and its people enjoy prosperity and the precise knowledge of who their next king will be, as well as the process by which their crown prince is selected, and who to turn to if they’re dissatisfied with this choice.
We must also remember that governing is a vital issue that is of universal interest, not for personal curiosity reasons or for useless political banter, rather, it lies in the core of every citizen’s life. That’s why this Ramadan’s announcement came as a pleasant surprise to see a nation planning for its future, securing the future of its citizens and their children, managing their relationships, and taking control of the way they perceive themselves and how the world perceives them. This new system of succession in the kingdom is revolutionary in its meaning, actual content and in its courage. It takes true valor and wisdom to announce an honest system for the succession of the throne, while acknowledging the differences between siblings, and implementing a mechanism to resolve any disputes – should they arise – on the occasion of the King’s nominations for crown prince not being accepted. There is also consideration for situations when the king might be incapacitated for health or other reasons, and a distancing away from any hypocrisy or subjectivity by devising a secret poll system, among other elaborate arrangements. By adopting a bold and transparent approach, the Saudi sovereign has paved the way to making important decisions for improving people lives and ensuring their future. He has taken a great stride in drafting new laws that will not allow the country to be left at the mercy of circumstances, while informing the people and keeping them updated on the process and identity of their future king, as well as all the involved details which they shall be privy to.
This new system has widened the circle of political activity within the royal family where everyone can participate, and where the last say is that of the overruling majority in a structure that resembles a family where every voice and every vote counts.
I do not think that any of those who govern the country’s affairs is unaware of the numerous potential changes that may confront the regime. No one is mindless of certain truths related to age and aging and the necessity of succession and establishing a system of governance after the third Saudi dynasty achieved a flourishing century since its foundation. During that period, Saudi Arabia’s six consecutive kings built a solid governing system without any deficiencies or loopholes, especially considering the difficult political challenges many of them faced. It is not easy to sustain the regime, given the country’s size and history, without learning from experience and appropriating and developing it to be well-equipped in facing a future where there is no confusion, whether internal of external, and where there is clarity and transparency in governance.