The Basic Law of Governance in Saudi Arabia stipulates that the king of Saudi Arabia has absolute power in the government of Saudi Arabia. However, after King Abdullah’s accession to the throne in 2005, his political powers were limited because of the presence of the so-called Sudeiri Seven, the powerful royal group that consists of the seven sons of King Abdel-Aziz’s purported favorite wife, Sheikha Hussa bin Ahmad Sudeiri.
The death of the crown prince Sultan in 2011 followed by the death of the next crown prince Naif in 2012, both members of the Sudeiri Seven, weakened the power of the Sudeiri Seven. As a result, King Abdullah’s power had increased greatly compared to that of the Sudeiri Seven. Also, the sons of King Abdullah, who occupied prominent governmental posts, were acquiring strong influence in the regime.
The death of King Abdullah in January 2015 and Salman’s accession to the throne caused changes to the ruling regime in Saudi Arabia. King Salman appointed Prince Muqrin as crown prince and deputy premier, and Prince Muhammad b. Naif as deputy crown prince. King Salman also appointed his son Muhammad b. Salman as defence minister and head of the royal court. Finally, King Salman issued a royal order on January 29 to reshuffle his cabinet and dismiss the governors of the Riyadh and Makka.
The American Jewish community as a whole still remains very much supportive of Israel’s policies. Most American mainstream Jewish organizations and their leaders have hardly criticized Israel’s position regarding the occupation, settlements, and the peace process. But over the last ten years or so, different views and opinions have become more visible in the American Jewish community, as represented by J Street, a “pro-Israel and pro-peace” lobby. What has brought about this diversification in the American Jewish community over their attitude toward Israel’s policies?
Many opinion surveys indicate that younger American Jews have become more critical of Israel’s policies with regard to the Palestine question and the peace process. This may be attributed to a shift in identity among young American Jews. Older American Jews tend to see Israel as democratic, progressive and peace-seeking, etc. In addition, they perceive Israel as a safe haven for Jews. But younger Jews draw from memories and impressions scene in recent events, such as the First and Second Intifada, and the military confrontations with Palestinian groups based in Gaza, all of which are perceived as morally and politically more complex than the wars Israel fought between 1948 and 1974.
Communities in the Jewish diaspora try to influence the policies of their homeland in order to protect their identity and sets of values. While the American Jewish community is still strongly committed to liberal democratic values, its counterpart in Israel has leaned toward the political right and toward ethno-religious nationalism. The diffusion of identities and sets of values in both communities may bring about further shifts in the relations between the two communities.
Pakistan is geographically situated between China and the Gulf. In order to balance its strategic position against the major security threat of India, Pakistan formed a special and stable strategic alliance with China against common threats since the period of the cold war even though the two countries have neither a political ideology nor political system in common. On the other hand Pakistan established another special relation with Saudi Arabia on the basis of Islamic identity. With its expanding economic capacity, China proposed a project by the name of “new silk road economic corridor” with the intention of expanding and multiplying trade routes with the Middle East and Europe.
Within this framework Pakistan is expected to expand the role of an alternative land route that connects the Gulf and China for use if unfavorable emergencies occur in the Malacca route. However, the continuous political uncertainty in Afghanistan after the pullout of US-NATO fighting forces at the end of 2014 and sporadic outbreaks of terrorist acts by Pakistan Taliban in Pakistan have increased China’s anxiety regarding Uyghur issues at home. Avoiding military options for the moment, China is trying to find ways to play an active role in the security issues of Afghanistan with help from Pakistan if available.
On the other hand, it is noteworthy that the Pakistani government formed in the general election of 2008 completed its full term and transferred authority to the newly elected government in 2013, something never observed before in Pakistan’s history. Coincidently, in Afghanistan the presidential election was carried out peacefully in 2014 in spite of the Taliban threat. Although it is too early to make any definite conclusion, constitutional processes, in spite of their defects, reflected to some extent wishes for normal life of the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan who were disgusted with weak governance and the prevalence of terrorism.
Since the second transition period started July 2013, the Egyptian armed forces have once again played a critical role in building a new political system. Although the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had not come to the front this time, it controlled the transition process and succeeded in keeping the privileges of the military in both political and economic fields.
This paper focuses on the economic role of the military under the regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Large scale economic activity of the military started in the mid-1970s. The military expanded its grip on the domestic economy and became one of the largest producers in Egyptian civil industry. In addition to controlling a huge business empire, the military under the Sisi administration is an entity supportive of national development goals. As the backer of the current regime, the armed forces have taken on a new responsibility as a central role player in economic development.