ABU DHABI ø Leaders of the democratic movement in Saudi Arabia have reported that members of the royal family are angered by the support their movement has received from the United States.
The Saudi democrats said Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz
was furious that a U.S. consul in Jedda, identified as Gina
Abercrombie-Winstanley, accepted an invitation by dissident for a discussion
on Saudi democracy.
In an open letter to the Saudi people, the Saudi democrats
warned that the kingdom is rapidly deteriorating. The letter also reported on division within the leadership and plans for a crackdown on reformists. The
Jan. 3 letter blamed Nayef for blocking efforts for reform.
The royal family has also forced out a reformist editor from a leading
newspaper, opposition sources said. Abdul Rahman Al Rashid, editor
of the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat newspaper, resigned after disputes over
his editorials, which called for reforms in the kingdom, Middle East Newsline reported.
Nayef has blocked the implementation of reforms pledged by Crown Prince
Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, the letter said. The Saudi democrats portrayed a
divided ruling family uncertain of how to quell rising unrest and Al Qaida
attacks in the kingdom.
The letter also reported The Saudi reformers met Nayef on Dec. 22 and said the interior ministers
called them terrorists and tools of foreign governments. Nayef said he was
empowered by the crown prince to order a crackdown and insisted that the
reformers sign a pledge to end their activities. The democrats refused.
The letter said despite official harassment and interrogations by
security agencies, the democrats would continue to press for reforms in the
kingdom. The democrats said Nayef has threatened to imprison the reformers,
some of whom were already fired from their jobs and banned from travel
"I am one of those who were oppressed," Abdullah Al Hamed, a former
professor and Saudi democratic leader, said. "I was arrested, fired from my
and banned from travel for setting up a human rights organization."