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Saudi Arabia Probably Won't Reform Soon

May 10, 2003

Re "Winds of Change in the Desert," Opinion, May 4: Sandra Mackey imagines that just as soon as the U.S. military exits Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud is going to reform its ways, but anyone familiar with Saudi Arabian politics would conclude that she is dreaming.

First of all, for heaven sakes, they are not princes, kings or a "royal" family; they are dictators, plain and simple. Saudi Arabia is a theocracy with one of the worst human rights records in the world; there is no freedom of the press, speech or religion, much less separation of church and state. Beheadings, amputations and other barbaric punishments are relatively commonplace. Women are treated little better than chattel. The list of anti-democratic government policies is long indeed.

We all know this. Yet Mackey insists that Crown Prince Abdullah has a "political touch," that he is "untainted by greed" and claims legitimacy among large sectors of the population. This is a man whose personal fortune is literally in the billions and who runs the world's largest oil reserves as a personal family bank account, while somehow generating national deficits in the billions year after year. How does the House of Saud get away with it? People like Mackey.

Jennifer Horsman

Laguna Beach

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