Friday, March 18, 2011

Reforms Saudi style: king Abdullah bribes his subjects into more loyalty with $ 93 billion

King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz
Some might have expected reforms like local elections, or even elections for the (advisory) Shura council, the freeing of political prisoners or a reshuffle of the cabinet and among governors where most posts are held by princes, and most of them since decades.
But nothing of all that came about during a rare speech that the king of Saudi-Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz (86) held on Friday. Instead the king, who earlier this month banned all demonstrations after signs of unrest in the mainly Shiite Eastern province, only had praise for his security personel and country men. 

´Dear brave men in all military sectors, especially your brothers the security personnel at the interior ministry, you are the shield of this homeland and the fist which strikes down anyone who dares threaten its security and stability. God bless you and all your good work,´ he said in his three-minute address.
And to all Saudis who did not answere an internet and Facebook call for mass protests on 11 March:
´I am so proud of you. Words are not enough to describe you. You are the safety valve of this nation and you struck at that which is wrong with the truth, and at treachery with loyalty.´
 After his speech, state television announced a Santa Claus like series of presents with which the king apparently wanted to reward his subjects, while at the same time buying yet more of their loyalty. His generousness included the following welfare benefits:
- A monthly minimum wage of 3,000 riyals ($800) and two months' extra pay for government workers
- Extra grants for university students
- A monthly stipend of about $260 for the unemployed
- 500,000 housing units for low-income earners
- $4.3bn spending on medical facilities
     The king ordered also the creation of 60,000 new security jobs within the interior ministry, promised more money for the religious police and, in a sign that the ruling family will tolerate no dissent, said the media must respect the Sunni clerics, who oversee the application of Sharia law in the Islamic state. Abdullah said new branches would be built around the country of the religious body headed by Grand Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh that is responsible for issuing official religious opinions, or fatwas. The decree said the move was part of efforts to promote "moderation" and fight extremism.The king last month announced an economic package worth an estimated $37 billion in an initial move to ease social tensions. Friday's measures were significantly more costly, with plans for a building spree set to cost $66.7 billion alone. John Sfakianakis, Chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi, put the total value of Friday's handouts at 350 billion riyals ($93 billion) but only a small amount would be spent soon, he told Reuters. 

    All Saudi´s, male or female, young or old, lived long and happily afterwards, that goes without saying..  

    No comments: