The speech of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz at the Shura Council drew the features of internal and foreign policy. The speech, which was delivered at the commencement of the third year of the seventh session of the Shura Council, addressed three main pillars; political, judical and developmental.
These pillars do not dominate one another but remain equal and parallel to each other. Ever since Saudi Arabia began implementing the vision and its transformative plans, it continued to play its roles of political mediation and major efforts within an international alliances to crush extremism and terrorism. This is in addition to major conferences, like the investment conference that was recently held in the Kingdom. Before that, the US Islamic Summit in the presence of more than 50 countries was held. Therefore, the pillars of the King’s statement need to be highlighted.
The King asserted the importance of holding on to the values of sharia, the principles of moderation and tolerance, as well as spreading a “moderate approach.” This was a message for religious institutions, including the ones concerned with Islamic affairs and mosquesFahad Suleiman Shoqiran
The moderate approach
The King asserted the importance of holding on to the values of sharia, the principles of moderation and tolerance, as well as spreading a “moderate approach.” This was a message for religious institutions, including the ones concerned with Islamic affairs and mosques, hence they must base their work on it. In brief, the message stipulates that adhering to sharia is a foregone conclusion and must thus be strengthened via its pillars, which include moderation and tolerance. The royal statement also highlighted the ongoing war against terrorism, and highlighting this is important particularly when it comes to those who think that this war has a duration or an end as it’s rather an eternal war until extremism is uprooted.
On the internal level, Saudi citizens are at the core of the development process. This includes young men and women, and the latter are partners in the process of development, with men. In fact, women enjoy their “full rights,” as the King emphasized. The royal statement also said that “the government would continue supporting the social services system and provide support to the needy categories in a way that enables them to be productive and efficient in making a decent livelihood,” adding: “We will support civil society institutions so they play their important and active role in this regard.”
Strengthening the middle class
This is necessary to strengthen the middle class in society and enlarge its role. The middle class lies at the base of any developmental process in any country of the world and is the measure of development for any society, as the case is in Scandinavian countries, Australia, New Zealand and Japan and to some extent in Western European countries and the US.
On the judicial level, the King asserted the importance of what judicial institutions and the Public Prosecution are doing for establishing the principles of justice – principles which the state has been well-known for ever since the era of Founder King Abdul Aziz. The Kingdom will continue to be as such along with a necessary improvement to modernize the juridical institutions and enhance their policies. It is beneficial for the institutions as well as for the society when the judiciary’s work is faster and more efficient.
On the political front, Iran’s hostile actions represent a threat to the whole world. Thus the King stated that “the Iranian regime has for almost four decades interfered in the internal affairs of other countries and supported forces of terrorism in the region. These criminal acts which violate the simplest rules of good neighborliness and international conventions and norms add to the record of the Iranian regime which is well-known for fomenting chaos and destruction in many countries across the region.
It is time for this chaos and destruction to end. The international community should work toward ending the Iranian nuclear and ballistic program and halt its activities which destabilize the region and its flagrant interference in the internal affairs of other countries.”
Its dangers are also represented in its support for Houthi militias and other extremist groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and dozens of other militant groups in Iraq, the Levant, Yemen, the African Sahel, North Africa and Latin America.
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As for the Syrian crisis, the royal statement considered political solution as a necessity and a must for defeating terrorist movements, so that stability is restored and refugees return to their country.
These are the paths of Saudi Arabia’s policies both internally and abroad. Its pillars are developmental, juridical, economic and political. We should ask ourselves about the internal and external policies of other countries! We realize that they are wasting money on militant groups and parties as Iran’s policy is. Iran also wastes money on developing a nuclear weapon that it does not need and that’s worthless while its people continue to suffer from poverty and hunger, particularly after the imposition of tough sanctions on the regime, which would make the situation even worse!
Saudi Arabia does not only represent the religious dimension in the region, but also the civil and developmental one, as there is no contradiction between the two.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.