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Sunday, February 9, 2003

Saudi reform plans.

"Crown Prince Abdullah will ask President Bush to withdraw all American armed forces from the kingdom as soon as the campaign to disarm Iraq has concluded," according to a front-page New York Times story today. A diminished U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia — which could reduce Muslim anti-Americanism — would be accompanied by pro-democratic reforms. "[T]he departure of American soldiers would set the stage for an announcement that Saudis — but probably not women, at least initially — would begin electing representatives to provincial assemblies and then to a national assembly, Saudi officials said."

This is great news, even if it only signals the monarchy's dawning awareness that its alliance with ultra-conservative clerics is undermining its own legitimacy. The goal of these reforms is ultimately the emergence of a new base of support for the government and a sharply diminished role for the Wahhabi clerics. But of course the only way for the U.S. to pull out of Saudi Arabia in the near future is for the U.S. to find another base — and for this all signs point to Iraq.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 9 February 2003 at 1:49 PM

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