King Abdullah’s royal decree regarding succession in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has addressed a largely sensitive matter.
The system of pledging allegiance signifies putting the ruling Saudi house in order, which has always been a delicate issue that could only be heard in private conferences and discussed by a limited few without being made known to citizens or other members of the royal family.
This decree came as a surprise to even the most optimistic of people and not only did it shed light on the subject of selecting the King and his Crown Prince, rather it went further to address the transition of rule from one generation to another between the sons and grandsons of the founder, the late King Abdulaziz Abdul Rahman al Faisal al Saud. A new political mechanism has been introduced within the royal family, which safeguards the country at present and in the future by ending speculation and rumors, affirming that ruling the land is based on merit alone. Additionally, it has also established a ballot system where results are determined by the majority of votes not by the unanimous vote of all those present. Suffice it to say that one of the biggest obstacles that obstruct progress in the affairs of Arabs rests on the system of unanimous voting, such as is the case in the Arab League where the key to its reform is the abolition of this voting method. Yet the Saudi monarchy was bold enough to construct a mechanism that selects the Crown Prince based on the majority of votes using a secret ballot system.
Undoubtedly, the system of pledging allegiance in Saudi Arabia constitutes one of the country’s most important decisions and demonstrates a high level of transparency; for who in the Arab world accepts discussing affairs related to rule in palace corridors, let alone publicly announcing them? All history books accede that in the absence of rule only swords can prevail. In Saudi Arabia, we are of the belief that even outside of the rule there is honesty and wisdom. Not only did the sons of Abdulaziz discuss the future of their rule, they also addressed disease, old age and death, and who dares asks an Arab leader face-to-face, what if, and may God prolong your life, you caught a cold? This is where transparency and protecting the land comes in.
During one of our trips we were in the company of one of the late King Abdulaziz’s sons. I listened to him explain to a guest the current events in the Arab world and the reasons behind the crises that befall it, referring to countries that have become sub-monarchies but without responsibility. When the discussion turned to Saudi Arabia, he said, “We are a monarchy but one that has a responsibility and commitment towards our country and our people”. That is why it is my belief that by enforcing this system of pledging allegiance, Saudi has succeeded in putting its ruling house in order, which is one of the most sensitive matters in any political configuration. This will enable the country to take bold steps and make fundamental decisions, speeding up the process of reform that it has already initiated, while the sons of the founder continue to build on what he has established. Indeed, this new system has come a long way in reassuring the citizens and all the main branches in the Kingdom.