What do Saudi women want? I wish I could give you an easy answer. But Saudi Arabia is a diverse land -- spread out across a vast territory almost a fourth the size of the United States and divided by religious sects and among some 45 tribes. Divining the Saudi people's demands, never mind those of Saudi women, is no simple task.
... before we go throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and throwing the Egyptian revolution out in the name of the Copts, let’s take a closer look at the forces at play in the region and in the uprisings. There was nothing “democratic” in what happened to the Copts; on the contrary, if their suffering is now increasing, we should put the blame where it belongs, namely on the same “counter-revolutionary” forces which have fostered intolerant Islamic fundamentalism throughout the region, and fear nothing more than the sight of Egypt’s people united, across sectarian lines, in defense of their rights and their country.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran have increased this year, particularly over Bahrain and Syria, and relations are likely to worsen on the news of the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.
Pro-democracy protests which swept the Arab world earlier in the year have erupted in eastern Saudi Arabia over the past three days, with police opening fire with live rounds and many people injured, opposition activists say.
Observers who have been closely watching the unrest sweeping Bahrain argue that Iran is bestowing a sectarian aura on the protests calling for political reform in the Gulf nation in order to serve its agenda. They ask if the Iranian media are deliberately inciting anti-Bahrain sentiments.
A report from a religious council in Saudi Arabia called the Majlis al-Ifta' al-A'ala concluded that relaxing the country’s rules that keep women from driving would lead to premarital sex and essentially mark the end of virginity.
Editor's Note: Ed Husain is a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. The following is his First Take, reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
The contrast between the deaths, within a week of each other, of Libya’s Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdel Aziz is one of terminal buffoonery versus decadent gerontocracy.
The king of Saudi Arabia is once again making headlines for overturning a court ruling that sentenced a woman to ten lashes for driving a car. For many, this is further proof that King Abdullah is a force for moderation and reform. Fareed Zakaria, for example, has called the Saudi dictator a “man of wisdom and moderation.” Then again, the king could also have considered stopping the recent beheading of Abdul Hamid Al Fakki for the crime of “sorcery.” Instead, he chose to do nothing. While the residents of Salem in 1692 would be proud, modern pundits would do well to hold their praise for the monarch.
If Iranian government operatives really did try to contract a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., as the Obama Administration alleges today, then they weren’t just being diabolical.
During the past 70 years, Saudi Arabia has been our most vital and faithful friend in the Mid-East. With the recent 'Arab Spring' in the region, it is important for us to understand how they assessed the events of the past and present.
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