Saudis Plan to End U.S. Presence

(New York Times) Saudi Arabia's leaders have made far-reaching decisions to prepare for an era of military disengagement from the U.S., to enact what Saudi officials call the first significant democratic reforms at home, and to rein in the conservative clergy that has shared power in the kingdom. The Saudi reform debate, according to one participant, has taken place in an atmosphere of opposition from senior princes, including Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, the minister of interior, and to a lesser extent, Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the minister of defense. If he issues the decrees, Abdullah will have to contend with those religious authorities who will resist reforms and a change in the fundamentalist contract that has empowered a clergy who practice one of Islam's most conservative interpretations, based on the teachings of Sheik Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab and sometimes referred to as Wahhabism.

2003-02-11 00:00:00

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