The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

al-Saud family feud?

Saudi prince criticises monopoly of power at the heart of kingdom:

A prominent prince plans to form a political party in Saudi Arabia and invite jailed reformists to join. The rare call for reform from within the royal family is likely to anger the kingdom, which bans political parties.

Prince Talal bin Abdul-Aziz, a half-brother of King Abdullah and the father of Saudi Arabia's richest private business tycoon, also criticised what he termed an alleged monopoly on Saudi power by one faction within the Saudi royal family.
Without wanting to be entirely dismissive of this "reformist" call for a new party, can we really take it really seriously if it's just about one side of the al-Saud family (may they be cursed to eternal damnation!) not being very happy with the other? Hopefully this will at least destabilize the Saudi regime and it will then be too busy to ruin other countries.

To give him some credit, this princeling is asking for some positive developments:

Prince Talal pointed to neighbouring Gulf nations, such as Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, which have already opened up their conservative political systems and held elections.

"Saudis are asking why these small countries have followed this direction and not us?" he said.

In the past, Prince Talal has called for an elected assembly to enact legislation, question officials and protect public wealth. In the interview, he also called on the kingdom's powerful Wahhabi religious establishment to make changes. "We have signed international conventions on women's rights and we should respect them," he said.

The group of Saudi activists that Prince Talal cited have been in jail for months for advocating reform. The prince called them "prisoners of conscience, not criminals".

Prince Talal also called for an independent Anglo-Saudi inquiry into claims that some Saudi royals received kickbacks from oil and arms deals. The US justice department is currently investigating a 1985 arms deal with BAE Systems.
The last of which is more than you can say for the United Kingdom, where not only Labour but the Tories seem quite happy to accept Tony Blair's closure of the BAE investigation.