Following are excerpts from an interview with Saudi Prince Talal bin Abd Al-'Aziz, which aired on Al-Mihwar TV on August 5, 2007:
Prince Talal: I have always believed in the separation of authorities – the executive, legislative, and judicial authorities. King Fahd, may he rest in peace, implemented this in 1992, when he adopted the Saudi constitution, which is the basic law of government. In it, the separation of authorities was mentioned explicitly. What we are demanding now is for these authorities to become independent. Just like there are Arab countries in which the judges demand independence, we too call for the independence of the judicial system, which is the third authority in a state. In the Arab world these days, they confuse the state with the government. The government and the state are two different things. We constitute the state. The state is the judicial system, the executive and legislative authorities, the land and everything upon it – people, trees, stones, and wealth. All these are called "a state." There is also a head of state – the king of the president of a republic. We call for separation of authorities, as is customary throughout the world.
There is a group of people [in Saudi Arabia], which has a monopoly on social rank, politics, and capital. This is a small group of people.
I have written this down. I will read it out loud, so I won't forget anything: "This initiative is a reaction to the [policy] of excluding people from the consultations and the decision-making." Therefore, we have decided to establish a party.
Interviewer: Your Highness, could you be more specific and say if you intend to establish a political party?
Prince Talal: We must first ask whether it is possible to establish a party in Saudi Arabia.
Interviewer: Do you want to change the ruling system in Saudi Arabia?
Prince Talal: God forbid.
Interviewer: Do you want to change the political system?
Prince Talal: What we want is to improve its image, to make it more efficient, to improve its functioning, to change some of the views which are incompatible with the reality of the 20th and 21st centuries. We want the people to participate in the decision-making.
Interviewer: Does the Saudi constitution permit the establishment of a party?
Prince Talal: It does not permit it and does not forbid it.
Interviewer: If such a party was established...
Prince Talal: If King Abdullah were to come to me today and say: "Talal, enough with all this party business," I would forget about it straight away.
Interviewer: If King Abdallah asked you...
Prince Talal: If he were to tell me to forget about this...
Interviewer: In such a case, you'd forget about it.
Prince Talal: I would say: I hear and obey.
How can they tell me, the son of King Abd Al-'Aziz, to stay away from politics, and not to participate in any of the consultations and decision-making? It doesn't work, as they say, because in Saudi Arabia, we, the sons of Abd Al-'Aziz, are like a board of directors, and the extended family is like a general assembly. But who is the real general assembly? In my opinion, it is the people.
Interviewer: It is clear from what you have just said that to a certain extent, you are accusing some of the members of the members of the royal family – and correct me if I'm wrong – of having a monopoly on political rule, social rank, and capital.
Prince Talal: Can one person possibly remain in power for 50 or 70 years, and fulfill one or two positions? Even if that person were Einstein, with all his ideas and intelligence, he would implement these ideas within a few years. It is rare for a person to remain a minister for such a long time... Perhaps Gromyko in the Soviet Union, whose regime was totalitarian and dictatorial, so it doesn't count. People usually do not remain in the same position more than four years.
What kind of republics do we have in the Arab world? Republics my foot. A republic means that any citizen should be able to run for president. "Republic comes from the word "public." Are these republics?
Interviewer: Do you know whether King Abdullah will agree or not? What do you expect?
Prince Talal: He won't agree.
Interviewer: If you are so sure that he will not agree – as you've said during this interview – what is the point of making this proposal?
Prince Talal: This is the first time he will have heard this proposal from someone close to him. It's a new proposal. Let him think about it. Abdullah won't say no before he thinks about it and holds discussions. He will also summon me to ask for my opinion, and then he is entitled to say either yes or no.