Saudi Holds Cards to Islam's Future

(The Age-Australia) Anthony Ham - Iraq may capture the headlines on a daily basis, but it is in Saudi Arabia that the future relationship between Islam and the West will be decided. The May 30 terrorist attacks on expatriates in the kingdom were merely the latest shots in the struggle for supremacy in the land of Islam's birth. Despite initial doubts about his reformist credentials, Crown Prince Abdullah is the moderate face of Saudi dynastic rule. Sitting at the same table on the Council of Ministers is Prince Nayef, Abdullah's half-brother and Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister for almost three decades. Prince Nayef has cultivated strong ties to fundamentalist clerics, even to al-Qaeda. With al-Qaeda has come a stark choice for those who would wield power within the Saudi royal family: prove themselves the worthy inheritors of the militant Wahhabi legacy or seek an alternative source of legitimacy. If the reformers can find the answers and prevail, al-Qaeda will remain on the margins of power in the Islamic world. If the reformers lose, it is not inconceivable that al-Qaeda will acquire its first state.

2004-06-04 00:00:00

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