Jim Kouri
Saudi and Kuwaiti royalty attempt to buy loyalty
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By Jim Kouri
March 24, 2011

On Friday, during a speech televised throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz announced a number of royal decrees, believed to be an effort to placate those opposing the current government.

This latest display of government generosity in Saudi Arabia follows a similar pattern observed two weeks ago in Kuwait.

These Saudi decrees will increase benefits, create new law enforcement jobs at the Ministry of Interior, provide funds for new housing projects, and expand the availability of healthcare, according to King Abdullah.

Although overshadowed by the rebellion in Libya and Bahrain, civil unrest has plagued Saudi Arabia including a violent clash on March 10 in which Saudi police officers fired on protesters, many of whom were members of the Shiite minority.

According to Middle East news organizations, only three protesters were wounded, but it caused the Saudi royal family to make an attempt at avoiding a repeat of the civil unrest that toppled the Egyptian government and that is currently sweeping across the Arab world.

While unrest is common with the Shiites, who make up only 10 percent of the Saudi kingdom's 25 million people, witnessing social change in other Arab or Muslim countries has encouraged the protesters to openly complain about being barred from key positions in the military and government. They also complained that they are not given an equal share of the kingdom's oil-derived wealth.

"King Abdullah has continuously demonstrated his commitment to his people through unprecedented reforms in all areas of their lives including housing, employment and healthcare," said Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.

The royal decrees issued by King Abdullah include:

  • Payment of two-month salary to all public civil and military personnel.

  • Payment of two-month stipend to all public higher education students.

  • Payment of SR 2,000 ($533) per month for job-seekers at the public and private sectors.

  • Increase the minimum wage in the public sector to SR 3,000 ($800) per month.

  • Construction of 500,000 residential units in all regions of the Kingdom and appropriating a total amount of SR 250 billion ($66.7 billion) for that project, which will be implemented under the supervision of the General Commission for Housing.

  • Raised the maximum amount of interest-free loans issued by the Real Estate Development Fund from SR 300,000 ($80,000) to SR 500,000 ($133,333) per applicant.

  • Established a National Commission on Combating Corruption, and appointed Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Shareef as its president at the rank of minister.

  • Provision of SR 16 billion ($4.3 billion) to the Ministry of Health to implement and expand several medical projects in various regions.

  • Raised the limit of financial assistance to private hospital from SR 50 million ($13.3 million) to SR 200 million ($53.3 million).

  • Creation of 60,000 law enforcement jobs at the Ministry of Interior.

KUWAITI AMIR REWARDS HIS PROTECTORS

According to a Law Enforcement Examiner news story, Kuwait's First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah announced and implemented several key initiatives for the Kuwaiti military on February 26.

He issued pardons to military service members who have been absent from duty up to 180 days, and he has spearheaded salary increases for all military personnel. In addition, he raised the age of non-Kuwaiti military personnel to 65-years old.

According to Kuwaiti government officials, these initiative are in advance of the upcoming celebrations in Kuwait this month such as the 20th anniversary of Kuwait's liberation from Iraq by the United States and its allies.

February was also the month to celebrate the 5th anniversary of His Royal Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah's rise to power as Kuwait's monarch. The Minister of Defense said the pardons and salary increases are part of an ambitiously positive agenda for 2011.

"Kuwait's military is vital to our safety, strength and security," the Defense Minister said in a press statement. "When we have opportunities to encourage our service members, we must do what we can. It is my hope that all absent service members take advantage of this opportunity for amnesty by returning to duty."

Both the Amir and the Prime Minister avoided using the term "deserter" to describe AWOL (away without leave) members of the Kuwaiti armed services.

Kuwait's Higher Council of Defense approved the salary increases with the urging of Sheikh Jaber. The council originally proposed an 80 percent increase, but Sheikh Jaber advocated a 100 percent pay raise.

The approved increase varies according to rank, ranging between 72 percent and 115 percent and will include all military personnel in the Army, Interior Ministry, National Guard and Fire Department.

While the Kuwaiti government is advocating kindness and generosity towards its service members, several experts in Middle East geopolitics and military affairs believe the monarchy is seeking to maintain control, loyalty and allegiance of its army, intelligence service and law enforcement officers should civil unrest occur.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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