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The Arab Revolution: Saudi Update
They’re calling it the domino effect: one country after another plunging into the unknown as citizens demand more rights and freedom. Eman Al Nafjan says Saudi Arabia could well be next.
February 20, 2011 11:17 by Samuel Potter
I said in a former post that Saudis were captivated and shocked by what happened in Tunis and Egypt but hadn’t collectively made up their mind about it. Well it appears that they have. Everywhere I go and everything I read points to a revolution in our own country in the foreseeable future. However we are still on the ledge and haven’t jumped yet.
I know that some analysts are worried particularly of Saudi Arabia being taken over by Al Qaeda or a Sunni version of the Iranian Islamic Revolution. Calm down. Besides my gut feeling (which is rarely wrong), the overwhelming majority of people speaking out and calling out for a revolution are people who want democracy and civil rights and not more of our current Arab tradition based adaptation of Sharia. My theory of why that is, is that Al Qaeda has already exhausted its human resources here. The available muttawas, are career muttawas (fatwa sheikhs) and minor muttawas (PVPV) of convenience both paid by the government and do not want the current win-win deal between them and the government to sour. So it’s unlikely that they would actively seek change. Actually quite the opposite, they will resist and delay as much as they can. Fortunately the winds of change can’t be deterred by a PVPV cruiser.
Last week Prince Talal Bin Abdul Alaziz, the king’s half-brother, did a TV interview on BBC Arabia that was widely watched and discussed. In it he warned of an upcoming storm if reforms aren’t dealt with right now. He used the word “evils” to describe what would happen if King Abdullah passed away before ordering the required changes. Prince Talal also strongly advocated a constitutional monarchy and democracy as long as it’s similar to what they have in Kuwait and Jordon. However he hinted that there were people in the ruling family who do not believe in change.
This whole past week was eventful. The first political party to form during King’s Abdullah’s reign, the Islamic Umma Party, has been arrested. According to the party’s released statement, they were informed that they would not be released until they sign a document promising that they will abandon all political aspirations.
In Qatif, a Shia majority area in Eastern Saudi, there is talk that there was a protest demanding the release of political prisoners last week. Ahmed Al Omran from SaudiJeans tweeted a pamphlet that was being distributed in Qatif, calling for protests on Feb 18th, at 8pm.
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