Thursday, March 20, 2003

The differences(or lack thereof) between Kuwait, Saudi Arabia & Iraq
from the CIA's World FactBook (last updated 2/13/03)

Government type
K: nominal constitutional monarchy
SA: monarchy
I: republic

K: approved and promulgated 11 November 1962
SA: governed according to Shari'a (Islamic law); the Basic Law that articulates the government's rights and responsibilities was introduced in 1993
I: 22 September 1968, effective 16 July 1970 (provisional constitution); new constitution drafted in 1990 but not adopted

Legal system
K: civil law system with Islamic law significant in personal matters; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
SA: based on Islamic law, several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
I: based on Islamic law in special religious courts, civil law system elsewhere; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

K: adult males who have been naturalized for 30 years or more or have resided in Kuwait since before 1920 and their male descendants at age 21 (note: only 10% of all citizens are eligible to vote; in 1996, naturalized citizens who do not meet the pre-1920 qualification but have been naturalized for 30 years were eligible to vote for the first time)
SA: none
I: 18 years of age; universal

Political parties and leaders
K: none; formation of political parties is illegal
SA: none allowed
I: Ba'th Party [SADDAM Husayn, central party leader]

Executive branch
K: elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the monarch
SA: elections: none; the monarch is hereditary
I: elections: president and vice presidents elected by a two-thirds majority of the Revolutionary Command Council (the RCC is the highest executive and legislative body and the most powerful political entity in the country; new RCC members must come from the Regional Command Leadership of the Ba'th Party)

Economy - overview
K: Kuwait is a small, rich, relatively open economy with proved crude oil reserves of 94 billion barrels - 10% of world reserves. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP, 90% of export revenues, and 75% of government income. Kuwait's climate limits agricultural development. Consequently, with the exception of fish, it depends almost wholly on food imports. About 75% of potable water must be distilled or imported. Higher oil prices put the FY99/00 budget into a $2 billion surplus. The FY00/01 budget covers only nine months because of a change in the fiscal year. The budget for FY01/02 envisioned higher expenditures for salaries, construction, and other general categories. Kuwait continues its discussions with foreign oil companies to develop fields in the northern part of the country.

SA: This is an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. Saudi Arabia has the largest reserves of petroleum in the world (26% of the proved reserves), ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. About 25% of GDP comes from the private sector. Roughly 4 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, for example, in the oil and service sectors. Riyadh expects to have a budget deficit in 2002, in part because of increased spending for education and other social programs. The government in 1999 announced plans to begin privatizing the electricity companies, which follows the ongoing privatization of the telecommunications company. The government is expected to continue calling for private sector growth to lessen the kingdom's dependence on oil and increase employment opportunities for the swelling Saudi population. Shortages of water and rapid population growth will constrain government efforts to increase self-sufficiency in agricultural products.

I: Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. In the 1980s financial problems caused by massive expenditures in the eight-year war with Iran and damage to oil export facilities by Iran led the government to implement austerity measures, borrow heavily, and later reschedule foreign debt payments; Iraq suffered economic losses from the war of at least $100 billion. After hostilities ended in 1988, oil exports gradually increased with the construction of new pipelines and restoration of damaged facilities. Iraq's seizure of Kuwait in August 1990, subsequent international economic sanctions, and damage from military action by an international coalition beginning in January 1991 drastically reduced economic activity. Although government policies supporting large military and internal security forces and allocating resources to key supporters of the regime have hurt the economy, implementation of the UN's oil-for-food program in December 1996 has helped improve conditions for the average Iraqi citizen. For the first six, six-month phases of the program, Iraq was allowed to export limited amounts of oil in exchange for food, medicine, and some infrastructure spare parts. In December 1999 the UN Security Council authorized Iraq to export under the program as much oil as required to meet humanitarian needs. Oil exports are now more than three-quarters prewar level. However, 28% of Iraq's export revenues under the program are deducted to meet UN Compensation Fund and UN administrative expenses. The drop in GDP in 2001 was largely the result of the global economic slowdown and lower oil prices. Per capita food imports have increased significantly, while medical supplies and health care services are steadily improving. Per capita output and living standards are still well below the prewar level, but any estimates have a wide range of error.

Exports - partners
K; Japan 23%, US 14%, South Korea 13%, Singapore 7%, Netherlands 6%, Pakistan 6%, Indonesia 4%, UK 2% (2000)
SA: US 17.4%, Japan 17.3%, South Korea 11.7%, Singapore 5.3%, India (2000)
I: US 46.2%, Italy 12.2%, France 9.6%, Spain 8.6% (2000)

Imports - partners
K: US 12%, Japan 8%, UK 8%, Germany 7%, China 5%, France 4%, Australia 3%, Netherlands 2% (2000)
SA: US 21.1%, Japan 9.4%, Germany 7.4%, UK 7.3% (2000)
I: France 22.5%, Australia 22%, China 5.8%, Russia 5.8% (2000)

Geography - note
K: strategic location at head of Persian Gulf
SA: extensive coastlines on Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping (especially crude oil) through Persian Gulf and Suez Canal
I: strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf

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