A SENIOR member of the Saudi royal family has warned that the oil-rich country could be harmed by the uprisings sweeping the Arab world unless it speeded up reforms.
Prince Talal bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud told BBC Arabic that “anything could happen” if King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz did not proceed with a program of political transformation.
“King Abdullah … is the only person who can carry out these reforms,” the prince told the broadcaster.
“On his departure, may that be in many years to come, latent trouble will surface and I have warned of this on many occasions. We need to resolve the problems in his lifetime,” the prince added.
Talal added that if Saudi authorities “don’t give more concern to the demands of the people, anything could happen in this country”.
Talal has long called for reform in Saudi Arabia and formed the liberal political group “Free Princes Movement” in 1958 in reaction to the hostility between former kings Saud and Faisal.
Because of his involvement with the Free Princes Movement it is unlikely that Talal, a former ambassador to France, will ever become king.
Leaders throughout the Arab world are anxiously studying the spread of protests which have already unseated the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt.
Bahrain is the latest country to be consumed by crisis after the army deployed across the capital Manama yesterday and vowed “strict measures” to restore order after a police raid on anti-regime protesters killed three people.
“Well, what is happening in this area surprised me frankly,” Talal admitted.
“I did not expect it and nobody else expected what happened. That means any nation in this world, especially the Third World, could surprise with such uprising.”