Thursday, August 5, 2004
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So what's going on in Saudi Arabia?
Well, the good news is that the Saudis have decided to hold national elections in a few months, according to Reuters:
At the same time, the Economist reports that the House of Saud remains sensitive to media criticism:
The most interesting take on the current Saudi situation comes from David Gardner's Financial Times survey. The section on education is particularly revealing:
Read the whole thing.posted by Dan on 08.05.04 at 05:20 PM
Interesting line, from the first article:
"Local elections were held in parts of western Hejaz province until the early 1960s."
I didn't know that. Wonder what the story is?posted by: praktike on 08.05.04 at 05:20 PM [permalink]
btw, the FT article was great, but not so much the Economist.
They quoted a Syrian paper, al-Quds, the Muslim Brotherhood, and a couple Sudanese ministers?
and then there's that cartoon ...posted by: praktike on 08.05.04 at 05:20 PM [permalink]
Saudi officials also captured one of the most wanted al-Qaida ideologues today.
Here is a short write-up about it.posted by: Terrorism Unveiled on 08.05.04 at 05:20 PM [permalink]
>"Local elections were held in parts of western Hejaz province until the early 1960s."
>I didn't know that. Wonder what the story is?
Neither did I, but it makes some sense. The Hejaz was the part of then Arabia controll by the Hashimites and it would not surprise me if the elections were a remnent of their rule.
When reading TE Lawrence's "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" he did note that two of the Hashimite princes were members of the Turkish parliament, with one, IIRC, acting as Deputy Speaker.posted by: Anthony on 08.05.04 at 05:20 PM [permalink]
The source said an electoral roll had been drawn up, without saying whether women -- who are forbidden to drive in Saudi Arabia -- would be allowed to vote or what criteria such as minimum age would be used to determine who can vote.
Details, details...posted by: KipEsquire on 08.05.04 at 05:20 PM [permalink]
No, women will not be permitted to run for office or to vote this time around.
Having lived in the country over a span of 20 years (81-83, 01-03), I think you have to take progress where you find it, though perhaps you can up the pace a bit.
The Saudis are going to hold their first national election in three years' time. That ought to give the populace some experience in representative government before they can actually pose a danger to the state. (As did Kuwait's and Bahrain's first experiments.)posted by: John on 08.05.04 at 05:20 PM [permalink]
Having just read The Economist article, I'm sorry to have to post twice in succession.
The article is almost completely right. A few things are left out and a couple of conclusions perhaps unwarranted.
First, the Saudis have actually changed their text books. The US Embassy has been hard on their case to get the changes made. The Ministry of Education (responsible for K-12) actually has a reformist Minister. He has called on international--including non-Muslim--text book writers and curriculum development specialists to help in that effort.
Second, the article really doesn't get into the rifts and rivalries within the ruling family. Some of them--including the Crown Prince--are among the foremose reformers. Others, like Sultan--who needs to keep brushing up his Islamic credentials after a somewhat unsavory past--and his brother Naif--who's just a complete recidivist--aren't so eager to change the status quo. If it changes, they lose out.
Reform is coming to the country, whether it's through their opening of their first indigenous human rights organization--with international affiliation--or the elections (designed under UN guidance).
But change is going to take time.
I apologize if I break any rules by promoting my own blog here, but I comment and provide context daily on the goings-on in the Magic Kingdom. You're welcome to stop by Crossroads Arabiaposted by: John on 08.05.04 at 05:20 PM [permalink]
elections or not, if their pipelines start to blow ala iraq, we're up the proverbial creek:
Anthony- Ibn Saud conquered Mecca, Medina, and Jeddah by 1925, and became King of the Hijaz and Najd on January 8, 1926. He renamed it KSA in 1932.
That's why the 1960s date is interesting.posted by: praktike on 08.05.04 at 05:20 PM [permalink]
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