Saudi Reform Efforts


I guess when you're starting from scratch, a little goes a long way, but the Saudi goverrment is taking steps toward reform, reports Robert Collier in the San Francisco Chronicle. In the past week the monarchy concluded a "significant" visit from Human Rights Watch and welcomed a pro-democracy petition from a group of critics. Crown Prince Abdullah has intermittently tried to position himself as a reformer of sorts, though in 1992 he arrested some of the same Islamists who signed on to the current petition. (A disturbing theory of Saudi politics holds that the government is actually more progressive than the majority of the population; I think if his people were allowed to speak freely, his highness would do something about that butt-ugly beard he's got.)