I have said in the past that the Saudi Crown Prince provided reason for hope, but even I never could have imagined what he has said recently.
In an interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, the Crown Prince referred to a “triangle of evil”: Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sunni terror groups.
He then went on to describe an alliance of more moderate states that includes Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman against this “triangle of evil.”
The Crown Prince added, “I believe the Iranian supreme leader makes Hitler look good. Hitler didn’t do what the supreme leader is trying to do. Hitler tried to conquer Europe. … The supreme leader is trying to conquer the world.”
I have to admit, reading this, I was starting to wonder if the Crown Prince had somehow had his brain taken over by Benjamin Netanyahu.
This thought was compounded by the fact that the Prince also had nothing but positive words to say to Goldberg about Israel.
“I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land.”
A two-state solution. Clearly, this is not your mother’s Saudi Crown Prince to say the least.
This is on top of all the other positive developments we have seen from the Saudi Crown Prince thus far, such as:
-Sweeping up some of the most connected business and political leaders in the countryas part of an anti-corruption probe, including Royal Family Members and executives. Charges range from bribery to money laundering to extortion.
-Liberalizing of several Saudi laws meant towards greater gender equity, including women above a certain age being allowed to drive at certain times of day .
There is a long history of failed reformers in the Middle East whose intentions always start out positive but whose results delivered often are not.
And the Saudis have an especially bad history.
Over the years they have funded numerous bad acts and it is worth keeping in mind that a whopping 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals. Plus, they outright refused to help one bit with the refugee crisis that has been tearing their region apart.
So, the ongoing reforms seem like a step in the right direction, but we must see how it all plays out. Over the years, I know our government has had strong ties to the Saudi Royal Family and that has made it difficult for them to lean on the Saudis with any real degree of seriousness.
Simply put, Saudi Arabia has gotten away with things no poor country would have gotten away with and it is unconscionable.
Having said that, the corruption arrests and reforms appear to indicate these unconscionable abuses may be on the way out in Saudi Arabia.
And his words about Israel, an alliance with moderate countries, and the harsh rebuke for the Supreme Leader of Iran have been incredibly encouraging.
The Saudis appear to finally be starting to move in the right direction and I applaud them for it.