Same Old Saudi Reform (or Lack Thereof)

One of the phrases one usually hears when discussing reform in Saudi Arabia goes something like this: “The government (or the royal family) is more progressive than society. If the government pushed hard for reform, the people would reject it because the conservative society is not ready for change.” Those who use this line basically blame society for lagging behind and absolve the government of responsibility.

Prince Turki al-Faisal used this argument recently in an interview he gave to the Saudi-US Relations Information Service (SUSRIS). Saudi blogger Ahmed BaAboud says it is about time that the country leaders retire this line of thinking:

It is very easy to blame the society alone rather than, at least, admitting that the responsibility for the status quo of no reforms in the country is shared among all parties including the society. I personally think that since the government monopolized the society for many years, in corporation with the religious establishment, it can be easily blamed for the lack of progress. Using such old argument is a proof that there are no intentions for real reforms. Yet, it is better to be hit by reality rather than keeping some false hopes.

This is the most worrying thing. There is very little to suggest that the government is serious about reform.