Following are excerpts from an interview with Washington-based liberal journalist and writer Mansour Al-Hadj, which aired on Al-Alam TV on March 11, 2011:
Mansour Al-Hadj: There have been demonstrations in several cities [in Saudi Arabia]. Demonstrations were held in Safwa, in Awamia, and in Hofuf. But in the large cities, such as Riyadh and Jedda, the massive presence of the security forces may have confused the people, and reduced their desire to take to the streets. I understand this very well, because I lived in Saudi Arabia, and I am familiar with these things. But this does not change the fact hat people have right and basic demands.
The revolution began in Tunisia, and its flame spread to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Oman – and I hope it will reach Sudan in the future – and sooner or later, it will reach Saudi Arabia.
In my view, the time for petitions and communiqués is over. These are the times of the streets. People are taking to the streets in order to achieve their demands. The approach of begging and groveling is a thing of the past.
Today, the Saudi government, and especially the ruling family, are facing a tremendous challenge. Until now, the demands have not included the toppling of the regime, and the interrogation of members of the ruling family, but these demands will arise if the ruling family in Saudi Arabia does not set things straight.
The problem is that the ruling family in Saudi Arabia is using the country's resources – the petrodollars – to exert pressure and to "buy" people's conscience. The Saudi newspapers, for example, are controlled by so-called "liberals." They are not liberal or anything. They work for the government. If tomorrow, you write something that the government does not like, they will fire you. Since the Saudi government oppresses the demonstrators, or makes the religious scholars...
Nobody has any respect for the religious scholars anymore. Every day or two, the state tells them to issue a fatwa, and they issue a fatwa. This is one of the things that has made people lose faith in the religious scholars, and has led some religious scholars to rebel against the state, because as a man of religion, you are not supposed to fear anyone but your God.
But today, some religious scholars issue ridiculous fatwas. They issue a ban on demonstrations. To allow or prohibit is the prerogative of Allah alone, not of these people.
There is no accountability as long as Saudi Arabia controls a quarter of the oil production and oil reserves of the world. This is the problem of the world. The petrodollars are handed out in all directions, while among the Saudis, there are people who go hungry. This is the problem. Money buys people everywhere. Even here, in Washington, the Saudi government and the Saud family managed to control some people, through this money, which belongs to the Saudi people.
Yesterday, Prince Turkey Al-Faisal wrote in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "We cured you of smallpox, we united you..." It is inappropriate for a prince to say such things.
The present administration – the Obama administration – is not fond of change. From the beginning, it decided to deal with the dictatorships in the Arab world. It supports the moderate camp against the camp of resistance or whatever... Their basic notion today is to get along with the people in power. But at the end of the day, the interests of the US are above anything else. Just like the US gave up on Hosni Mubarak and Zine El Abadine Ben Ali, it will give up on the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, if the demands of the people are not met. If the people want to replace the royal family, the US will have no choice but to build ties with the people.