Prince Turki Al-Faisal is a well-known figure inside and outside of Saudi Arabia since he headed for many years the Saudi Intelligence Directorate and then was the Saudi ambassador to the US. He was educated in the US and the international media interview him regularly. In his last interview with the Saudi-US Relations Information Service, he talked about different subjects that included oil and the future of power generation in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi-US relations, the Syrian Revolution, Iran and the reforms in Saudi Arabia.
Prince Turki said in the interview “But on the whole the government and the people are going forward”. The example he used to prove his point was allowing female lawyers to practice law before the judges in Saudi courts. I read about this story in the Saudi media, yet I am not sure if it is already happening on the ground. Isn’t interesting, by a mean or another, that such an example is used to demonstrate “moving forward”? I hope next time no one will start talking about allowing women to go to schools as an example of “going forward”. All what this says to me is to keep the bar very low and not to expect much because the very normal is hailed as something great!
He added “I have referred to the reform issue in Saudi Arabia as coming about not because of religious fatwa or government decree, but more because of the change of society itself”. The Prince here is using the same old line used over the years to get around the issue of reforms in Saudi Arabia. It is very easy to blame the society alone rather than, at least, admitting that the responsibility for the status quo of no reforms in the country is shared among all parties including the society. I personally think that since the government monopolized the society for many years, in corporation with the religious establishment, it can be easily blamed for the lack of progress. Using such old argument is a proof that there are no intentions for real reforms. Yet, it is better to be hit by reality rather than keeping some false hopes.
It is funny though that the interviewer did not ask Prince Turki “When would the society be ready? and what does the government plan to do to help the society to be ready, someday?”. I wish someone let me know who responsibility is if the society is not ready for about eighty years and rather than moving forward, the society seems stand still for ages. For years, the government kept a blind eye on acting on some real issues and with all what is going around and inside the country it is astonishing to use the same old lines again!.