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The Crown Prince's Speech: Political Messages for the Region's Prosperity

The Crown Prince's Speech: Political Messages for the Region's Prosperity

Saturday, 1 May, 2021 - 12:30

In a transparent and comprehensive interview aired on Saudi Channel, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed economic, political, and social issues. The televised interview had high viewership ratings, and it was met with positive responses to the vision presented by the Crown Prince and the extensive answers on the many issues raised during the interview, which was conducted by Abdullah Al-Mudaifer. The Crown Prince's strategic vision is not a meaningless slogan or propaganda, but rather a strategy that emerged from necessity and has a clear implementation timetable for projects that serve the Saudi people's interests, starting with the establishment of a modern state that is committed to its constitution and is based on an ideology of moderation, but, at the same time, is proud of its national identity.

The Saudis felt optimistic and reassured about what the future holds for them with regards to Vision 2030 and what has been achieved so far. Courageous, visionary, determined, pragmatic are all key attributes of the Crown Prince that allowed him to take Saudi Arabia to greener pastures. The Crown Prince revealed, during the interview, with his usual frankness, the challenges that the country is currently facing. He described 2015 as the most difficult year because of the lack of a center within the state and the lack of competence in most of the ministries, adding that the government took "vital steps" at that time, restructuring ministries and establishing new councils; he also indicated that he is close to establishing a policy office in the Kingdom.

His foreign policy views were also remarkable and drew the western media's attention. Perhaps the pragmatic and rational rhetoric that the crown prince used to talk about the relationship with Iran and the Houthis highlighted his personality as a leader and his farsightedness. His views on foreign policy were expressed despite the rivalry and hostility between them and the harm that Iran and the Houthis inflicted on Saudi Arabia and the region. Some analysts believe there is currently an atmosphere that's conducive for reconciliation and offers solutions to long-standing disputes, with some calling this strategy "extinguishing fires of the region." This may have some truth to it, but it would be more accurate to say that Saudi Arabia seeks to enhance stability in the region, and it is making public statements that correspond to what is being said behind closed doors.

The Crown Prince affirmed that he would not accept the presence of militias on his country's borders and called on the Houthis to sit at the negotiating table with the rest of the parties involved to preserve the rights of everyone and further Yemen's prosperity. He also said, although the Houthis have relations with Iran, but they are in the end from Yemen and have an Arab tendency, hoping that they take into account the interest of Yemen before anything else.

These are the ethics of the people of the peninsula, their customs, pride, courage, fraternity, and integrity. When the leader deals with contentious issues with such confidence and wise language, seeking peace, security, and stability, you, as someone residing in this part of the world, feel comfortable and reassured because it is a speech that promotes tranquility rather than escalation.

In a wise statement, the Crown Prince says: "Iran is a neighboring country, and all we hope for is to have a good and distinguished relationship with Iran;" adding the problem with Tehran is in its nuclear program or its support for outlaw militias in some countries in the region or the ballistic missile program. This is as clear as it gets. Prudence remains a marked feature of Saudi Arabia's approach to politics, and it always extends a hand to peace. Despite the known actions and positions directed against it, restraint, the search for ways out of the region's burning crises and non-escalation is a remarkable Saudi approach, whose expansion many in our world seem to need.

The approach of containing Iran through reason and dialogue and confronting it by presenting arguments is an effective method that will ultimately succeed if Tehran wants the world to respect and engage with it. Riyadh and Tehran are the region's two prominent players, and they have their regional influence, which means that, despite the differences, there is a need to remove the defects in their relationship. Relying on the language of reason, dialogue, consensus, and objectivity to resolve these issues, or at least cool them, requires joint strategic cooperation. The region is our region, and its security and stability are everyone's objective, as we all vie for a decent life for our peoples and future generations.

Iran needs to engage with what the Crown Prince has put forward through objective and subjective criticism. The people of the Gulf are not awaiting Iranian reassurances and words, but actions that are translated on the ground, which would establish trust, cooperation, and partnership, thereby ensuring the stability and future of the Gulf and the emergence of good neighborly relations. It is no longer an option among others, but rather a strategic imperative. The ball appears to be in Iran's court.

On the issue of punishment per Islamic Shariah, the Crown Prince made important and unprecedented statements, saying: "I should not apply a Shariah punishment without an explicit text from the Quran or an explicit text from the Sunnah."

For this reason, the Saudi judicial apparatus and the judicial environment were amended, with the announcement of adopting new laws two months ago, during which the Crown Prince had said: They are meant to preserve rights, entrench the principles of justice, transparency, protect human rights and achieve comprehensive and sustainable development, which reinforces the global competitiveness of the Kingdom based on procedural and institutional references that are objective and clearly identified."

“The absence of applicable legislation has led to discrepancies in decisions and a lack of clarity in the principles governing facts and practices. That resulted in prolonged litigation not based on legal texts. In addition, the absence of a clear legal framework for private and business sectors has led to ambiguity with respect to obligations,” the Crown Prince said then.

These laws are important for the protection of human rights, preventing discrepancies in decisions, as verdicts can only be issued with reference to an article in the penal code, punishments are limited to the act in question, and the court's role is only to apply the law. The existence of laws for discretionary punitive measures, whereby no penalties can be issued without reference to legal texts, means that we have reached an advanced stage in fortifying criminal justice and consolidating judicial guarantees, and it is consistent with legal norms and global judicial principles. The personal status initiative empowers women and facilitates the attainment of their rights, as well as the rights of children, as it sets a minimum age for marriage, closing the door to the practice of underage marriage.

The Crown Prince also added: "If Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdulwahhab were with us today and he found us committed blindly to his texts and closing our minds to interpretation and jurisprudence while deifying and sanctifying him he would be the first to object to this."

This is an official, explicit, unprecedented clear response to the western media's claims that Saudi Arabia follows was is called the Wahabi School; our references are God's holy book, the Sunnah and his prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

On the issue of extremism, he affirmed his country is, "prime target for extremist projects around the world, referring to the fact that "extremist groups aspire to spread their ideas in Saudi Arabia and then export them to other countries, but this will not happen;" adding that, "anyone who adopts an extremist approach, even if he isn't a terrorist, is a criminal."

This firm and decisive rhetoric sends a message of reassurance to the people and is directed at the oppressors and extremists who closed the country for decades, destroyed it culturally, socially, and intellectually, left it insular, and spread hatred for all the joys of life, arts, and entertainment. Thus criminalizing extremists is a significant step on the path to protecting society. In fact, the Crown Prince, in a short period, distinguished himself in successfully combating a 40-year-old ideological project, and the indications are abundant and tangible. Saudi Arabia had been accused of being insular in the past, and many were influenced by Sahawi thought, but during King Salman's reign, the country was able to liberate itself, break its chains and take the path of progress and development.

On ties with the United States, the Crown Prince said: "More than 90 percent of the Biden administration are agreed upon in Saudi-American interests...Everyone works to enhance them in one way or another."

With that, he sent an important political message, saying: "We are working to create new partnerships with everyone, whether Russia, India, China, and others, for the interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," indicating that Saudi Arabia's direction is where its interests lay.

When asked about US pressure, he replied diplomatically, saying that the Charter of the United Nations explicitly states the sovereignty of states and their complete independence, further stressing that " the United States is undoubtedly a strategic partner for Saudi Arabia."

These statements are accurate. We have to admit, whatever the case may be, that Riyadh and Washington have managed to overcome many periods of tension, apathy, and crises over the past decades. It would have been untenable for the two countries to neglect a strategic relationship for nearly eight decades. Seventy-six years have passed since the historic meeting between the founding King Abdulaziz and former US President Franklin Roosevelt aboard the Quincy cruise ship; it was a historical moment that laid the groundwork for what would follow.

The ties between Riyadh and Washington do not hinge on indications of positive intentions or public relations, and they are not affected by media campaigns. Indeed, they are founded, for a long time, in joint institutional and sustainable efforts to achieve objectives. The two countries need one another. This is demonstrated by the joint actions, dialogue, and ongoing bilateral coordination between them on all levels. It is normal for divergent points of view to emerge, and things may take unsuccessful turns, but something always puts things back on the right track. This is shown by the new statements we hear today from the Biden administration that contradict what had been said on the campaign trail. This reflects the significance and solidity of the two countries' ties and that points of view do not have to be identical. Instead, what is important is that dialogue continues in such a way that ensures the two countries' interests, as well as the region's stability and security.

Saudi Arabia's new reformist approach is exemplary, and the political administration is determined to go on despite the challenges. It seems that passion is the key to realizing achievements and entering the competitive zone!

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