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Saudi Arabia Moves Against Muslim Brotherhood Amid Increased Pressure for Reform

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Declaring boldly “there is an MB smell in Saudi Arabia,” Alwaleed was told he had been accused of supporting the Brotherhood, and answered, “God forbid”—then pronounced the words twice more. He warned, “several Saudi sheikhs reek of the Muslim Brotherhood.” Asked how Saudi Arabia should get rid of the “smell,” he replied that the monarchy must “meet more of the people’s demands, to avoid giving [the MB] the opportunity to take advantage of the poverty, the housing problems, or the cost of living.”

Alwaleed accused Iran of “evil intentions”—another phrase he repeated for emphasis—and of meddling in Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, and even in Mauritania and Morocco. “Iran has destructive, not merely expansionist, designs,” he cautioned. Questioned about the flirtation between Iran and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, he declared, “I do not trust Iran.”

Saudi anxieties over the Muslim Brotherhood, the failed Arab revolutions, and Iran should not be dismissed by cynical Westerners as mere expressions of anxiety over the permanency of Saudi royal power or reflections of intra-Muslim competition. As the world has seen, but too many refuse to acknowledge, the MB, the rapid dissipation of the Arab Spring, and Iranian aggression have indeed aggravated the problems of the Muslim lands, and, by implication, those of America and the other leading powers. We should not need to be reminded of these realities by Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, but neither should we disregard his opinions—especially on reform of Saudi Arabia.

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