The Caliphate states are a very loose federation of fundamentalist Islamic states whose primary characteristic is that they hate each other a little less than they hate the rest of the world. The Caliphate Council itself is a sort of politbureau where policy decisions are made, and sometimes implemented. Decisions taken by the Ruling Council were only binding on the Satraps if they had voted for the decision in question. Those who had not voted for the decision were not bound by it. From the 1970s onwards, the Council lost much of its power and the country was increasingly run by a group of technicians and bureaucrats who had kept their heads down during the early years of the theocratic state. Their rise to power marked an end to the Caliphate's policy of ruthless expansionism and the adoption of a "heads down policy" minimizing the Caliphate's profile.
The Caliphate States were the last of the current regional powers to form; they started to grow in the very late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. The justification for their existence was an expressed fear that the Americans would use their nuclear bombers to destroy Islam, just as they'd used them to destroy Germany. In a very real sense, the Caliphate is a child of The Big One. Their opriginal political philosophy was to convert the rest of the world to Fundamentalist Islam by Fire and Sword, then use the united world to destroy the Americans. As a result of military training by the German expatriates and the huge revenues from oil sales, they had substantial military power. This policy was discredited by a series of stinging defeats handed out in the 1960s and 1970s that convinced most of the Caliphate leadership that their plans were unworkable. From that point onwards they adopted a new policy that envisaged them simply waiting until things turned out the way they wanted.
Thus, the mad extreme-fundamentalist regime that characterized (and still largely characterizes) public images of The Caliphate really only lasted about fifteen years at most. At its most generous, the fundamentalist Caliphate lasted from 1960 through to 1973/74. With the collapse of the ruling council and the fundamentalist theocracy, a much more realistic regime became established. This quietly reversed many of the most objectionable of the fundamentalists policies and tried to construct a viable modern state that still retained some of its Islamic flavor. This was complicated by the structure of the caliphate itself which contained a wide variety of social and religious schisms. The work of the leaders who took over after the mid-1970s was constantly challenged by extremeists and, by the 1980s, The Caliphate was in a constant state of near civil war. This further distracted them from outside adventures.
As the result of its actions in the 1960-73 time period, The Caliphate is viewed as a collection of brutal, uncivilized, murderous barbarians. That is the opinion of their few friends; their numerous enemies are less complimentary about them. Every country had suffered from Caliphate-inspired terrorist attacks which grew steadily growing in frequency and devastation until the end of the 1970s. Any country that tried to negotiate with or come to an understanding with The Caliphate were told that no negotiations were possible until the country in question adopted (Fundamentalist) Islam as its only permitted religion, ran itself according to the strictest interpretations of Sharia and forced its population to convert. Even those well-disposed to The Caliphate tended to be subjected hate-filled tirades and a spate of terrorist attacks as a result to any real or imagined slight.
The defeat in the Middle east in 1965 and the bombing of the industrial heartland of The Caliphate in 1973 put an end to this era. For the next seventy years, the Caliphate became a reclusive and inaccessible area that had as little to do with the rest of the world as the rest of the world wanted to do with it. As a result of incessant internal turmoil, The Caliphate had neither the resources of the capability to have an international policy.
The Caliphate is a doctrinaire and viciously repressive theocracy with strong Nazi influences. Territorially, it runs from Afghanistan to Tunisia and from the southern borders of Turkey, to the Sudan. There are no human rights, no civil rights, what economy exists is a command economy. Education is restricted to the Koran; as a result, the ability to absorb and use modern technology is fading. If the Caliphate had a motto it would be Forward to the 7th century and they mean it. This policy was moderated from the early 1980s onwards but remained vicious and repressive by international standards.
Each of the once-independent countries that is part of The Caliphate is ruled by a Satrap. Officially, ruling a country entitled the ruler to be part of The Caliphate Council. In fact, it worked the other way, only people who are already members of The Caliphate are entitled also to become a Satrap of one of the countries. The countries themselves are divided into provinces, ruled by Sub-Satraps appointed by the Satrap.The Caliphs actively encouraged the Satraps to intrigue against eachother and changes in Satrapy boundaries achieved by such intrigues make the map of The Caliphate a fluid and changing thing. It is not uncommon for Satraps to gain control of territories not actually in their Satrapy. Of course, the Satraps required official approval once such changes had been made.
Even the borders of the previously-independent countries are constantly shifting with the interplay of politics and the intrigues between the Satraps - for every gain made by a Satrap increased the power of the Caliph to whom he owed allegience. The reverse applied of course, a Satrap whose intrigues failed reduced the power and influence of his Caliph. And that was an offense punished with great severity. So, the borders of the countries themselves were shifting, to reflect the influence of ethnic differences and the various tribal regions, and the differences between herding areas and farming areas and, always, the power and ability of the Satraps.
So The Caliphate Council rules The Caliphate as a whole, each member of the Council ruled a country as its Satrap and the provinces forming the country were ruled by Sub-Satraps appointed by the Caliph. The more capable and effective the Satraps, the more power and influence they bestowed upon their Caliph and the greater his influence on The Caliphate Council - which meant the gains of the Satraps were more likely to be approved. But, if one of the members of The Caliphate Council gained too much power, the rest combine and order him cut down to size.