Monday, June 18, 2012


The Weekly Standard reports that Nayef bin Abd al-Aziz, the crown prince of the House of Saud, is now dead at 78. His sordid record includes:
Nayef was mainly known for his intransigence regarding the strict moral and political controls based on the doctrines of the ultrafundamentalist Wahhabi sect, the official Saudi interpretation of Islam. In repudiating changes to the Saudi social order, Nayef was infamous for his 2003 comment, “What we won by the sword we will keep by the sword.” He rejected proposals for elected institutions and blocked women from participating in the limited 2005 Saudi municipal polls.

Nayef had also pushed back on more recent gestures by King Abdullah to modernize Saudi Arabia. Last December, Nayef hosted a conference on “Salafism” – a common camouflage term for Wahhabism – at which Saudi religious exponents of the interpretation endorsed Nayef’s posture that Wahhabi ideology would remain the foundation of governance. The event was interpreted by Saudi-watchers as a counter to King Abdullah’s simultaneous announcement that women would enjoy the right to compete and vote in limited elections scheduled for 2015, without requiring permission from a male family member as a “guardian” or mehram.

In the aftermath of the attacks against America on September 11, 2001, Nayef won notoriety for blaming the terrorist assault on “the Jews.” Once al Qaeda’s responsibility for 9/11 could no longer be denied, Nayef assumed a conciliatory attitude toward terrorists, placing them in a rehabilitation program intended to teach them the incorrectness of their extremist views and reintroduce them to society. This excessively benign posture persisted even after an unsuccessful attempt by a Yemen-based al Qaeda operative to kill Nayef’s son and an assistant in anti-terrorism activities, Muhammad Bin Nayef Bin Abd Al-Aziz, in 2009.
Well, there's one autocrat who won't be missed. I did notice the signs that the House of Saud may be easing up on the suppressive laws against women, and al-Aziz's death may make it easier to do this. Another way they could modernize the country is to drop the law forbidding Jews to enter, and also, they can drop the Saudi part and just call the country Arabia again, like it usually was called centuries ago.

But it's still going to be a very long way till light's found at the end of the Islamist tunnel there.

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