Saudi Arabia Is Undergoing a Fundamental Transformation

(Bloomberg) Dennis Ross - Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a fundamental transformation of its society. True, the monarchy retains all political power, but nationalism and modernization are replacing Wahhabism, a rigid, intolerant interpretation of Islam that fueled al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is conducting a revolution from above that is discrediting radical Islamist ideology, including the removal of several thousand clerics and dozens of judges deemed to be sympathetic to al-Qaeda. The social changes emerging in Saudi Arabia are visible to any visitor. Go into any restaurant and see men and women mixing; visit businesses or governmental offices and women are prominent; cinemas are opening; music, forbidden in the strict Wahhabi code, is now played in concerts drawing thousands. None of this was thinkable in the past. Having just returned from Saudi Arabia, I am struck by the enthusiasm for the crown prince, especially among young people who now can talk openly about their ability to shape their destinies and the destiny of the country. Like it or not, the policies of the Saudis will have a huge effect on what takes shape in the Middle East. America can't write them off. The writer, counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served in senior national security positions during the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations.

2019-05-02 00:00:00

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