Saudi prince calls for reform amid regional unrest
LONDON – The protests and unrest in Arab countries may be dangerous for Saudi Arabia if King Abdullah does not step up the pace of reform, a Saudi prince said Thursday.
Prince Talal bin Abdul-Aziz, a half brother of the king, said it was not too late for the Saudi government to take steps to avoid protests — and that the king is the only person who can bring about major changes.
"The only person who could really maintain things and do major things and change is King Abdullah," the prince told BBC Arabic in an interview. "Because he is not merely liked, but he is loved by the people. But if he doesn't do it, it would be very dangerous in our country."
Talal is an outspoken prince who has called for reform before. He holds no government posts and is considered something of an outsider within the royal family.
He was forced briefly into exile in the 1960s amid reports at the time that he planned a revolt.
Political activity in oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which follows strict Islamic rule, is severely restricted and all power rests in the hands of the ruling Saudi family.
The kingdom's first political party was formed recently by moderate scholars calling for reform, following the turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia.