Is MBS the Ataturk of Arabia?

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud (MBS) did not initiate the process of liberalization and secularization in Saudi Arabia but he has certainly spearheaded it. MBS has proceeded methodically in promoting a feminist agenda of enfranchising women in Saudi Arabia. He has been much maligned and has been accused of being a psychopath and abusing his wife. Despite MBS radically reforming Saudi Arabia, President Joe Biden refuses to speak with MBS. What are the ultimate goals of MBS? He has taken away the power from the religious police but the Wahhabi deep state remains powerful as seen in the persecution of Saudi feminists and official Saudi financial support for Wahhabi mosques around the world. MBS has a degree in Islamic law and is clearly Anti-Islamist and many believe that his goal is to turn Saudi Arabia into a secularist state much like Ataturk did with Turkey. 

It is most regrettable that President Biden and parts of the US intelligence establishment has put faith in the Islamist smear campaign against MBS. Supporting MBS is clearly an American interest as MBS is not only pro-American and friendly towards Israel and the West but is furthermore a strong leader able to steer a country with overwhelmingly Islamist public opinion in a secularist and liberal direction. While it is certainly legitimate to criticize MBS’s authoritarianism, the critics need to understand that enfranchising women in a country with overwhelmingly Islamist public opinion can only be done with an iron fist. Not every country is ready for liberal democracy and while democracy should be promoted in those countries where the majority of public opinion supports liberal democracy, doing so in countries where the majority supports totalitarianism is not only futile and counterproductive but outright dangerous. 

Does President Biden really want a Sunni Iran in Saudi Arabia? While it is true that America is no longer dependent on Saudi oil, it is also true that Saudi Arabia has always been a loyal ally of the United States and is now more so than ever. What is President Biden trying to achieve by offending MBS? Pushing him into the arms of China? Saudi Arabia remains a central nation in the struggle against Khomeinist Iran and is an emerging ally of Israel. Israel and Saudi Arabia are the two central pillars in the new security architecture of the Middle East and it is surely about time that Biden and MBS patch up their relations and reconcile. The American interest dictates this.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization

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