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The Arab Revolution: Saudi Update

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

A hashtag on Twitter, #EgyEffectSa, about the effect of Egypt on Saudi was popular, with a lot of courageous Saudis speaking their mind. The common thread across most of the tweets was for human rights, freedom of speech, democracy and government accountability.

Saving the best for last, a 6100 strong and growing group on Facebook has been started. The group is only for Saudis and you need to be approved to join. I’ve translated their demands:

The People want to Reform the Government Campaign

To support the right of the Saudi people and their legitimate aspirations:
1. A constitutional monarchy between the king and government.
2. A written constitution approved by the people in which governing powers will be determined.
3. Transparency, accountability in fighting corruption.
4. The Government in the service of the people.
5. Legislative elections.
6. Public freedoms and respect for human rights.
7. Allowing civil society institutions.
8. Full citizenship and the abolition of all forms of discrimination.
9. Adoption of the rights of women and non-discrimination against them.
10. An independent and fair judiciary.
11. Impartial development and equitable distribution of wealth.
12. To seriously address the problem of unemployment.

Impressive, right?! And if these demands aren’t met, according to a lot of the discussions on the group’s page, there will be a protest in Riyadh on Olaya street March 11th. I was also impressed by their code of conduct in which they committed to no sectarianism, no violence or incitement to violence, and no hate speech.

Everyone is holding their breath and delaying doing anything drastic until the King is back. Reports vary, some say he is expected Monday, others say Wednesday. Either way, whatever he does when he gets back will decide the fate of our country. In my opinion, the least he can do is draw up and announce a clear succession that will carry the throne from the brothers’ generation into their sons’. As this is an area of great concern and instability for Saudis because we fear that without a clear and public succession, we might have a civil war between factions of the ruling family. King Abdullah should name names such as heir1 then heir2 then heir3…etc so that the fifth or sixth is a ten or twelve year old. Thus stability is maintained fifty years into the future. Another thing that needs to be done is to aggressively fight corruption and promote transparency and accountability for everyone no matter who they are. If these two issues are taken care of as soon as he gets off the plane, then I predict that things just might calm down and a lot of people won’t be so anxious for change. If not, then the campaign above will just grow bigger and bigger and many more will crop up until eventually the Saudi people will cross the revolution threshold.
Recommended reading:

From Tunis to Cairo to Riyadh? Wall Street Journal piece by Karen House

Will the House of Saud adapt enough to survive … again? Toronto Star piece by Caryle Murphy

Rage, Rap and Revolution: Inside the Arab Youth Quake Time piece by Bobby Ghosh

Eman Al Nafjan is a post-graduate student from Riyadh and author of the Saudi Woman’s Weblog.

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1 Comment

  1. MK on March 22, 2011 11:37 am

    A slight unrest, maybe…but the same thing that happened in Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt, NEVER! There is a lot happening behind the scenes, but most evidently, Saudi’s strong political ties with the US gaurantees that the ruling family would remain in power for sometime…well, at least until the US finds another country to exploit oil from.


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