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Saudi’s Crown Prince Opens Up About His Controversial Reforms And Ruthless Ruling

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Saudi Arabia is witnessing a never seen before sweeping changes ever since the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) took over the reign. However, it has also attracted controversy, doubts and questions on the man himself.

In his interview for a TV show ’60 Minutes’, he has spoken about the country’s problem and promises made to the people of Saudi.

The Crown Prince who is in the US to meet the President spoke about arch rival Iran, foreign policy, the issue of Yemen among others.

The Yemen War

Yemen has been under continuous Threat by the Arab giant from three years and still looks far from over. MBS believes that the Yemen’s Houthi rebels are backed by Iran. Thousands have lost their lives due to constant bombing and the blockade has made it worse for the civilians in the country.

However, the young leader has defended the move and said that the country cannot tolerate attack on Riyadh, while referring to the missiles launched by the rebels. But, he maintained that the death of civilians was painful.

“I hope that this militia ceases using the humanitarian situation to their advantage in order to draw sympathy from the international community,” he said. “They block humanitarian aid in order to create famine and a humanitarian crisis.”

The role of women

One thing that has been unanimously appreciated globally is reforms on women. The prince has made various positive changes when it comes to women, like loosening clothing restrictions, pushing for greater participation in the workforce and the popular lifting of ban on women driving.

However, the guardianship laws, which require women to seek the permission of male relatives for a host of activities, remain in place.

“We have extremists who forbid mixing between the two sexes and are unable to differentiate between a man and a woman alone together and their being together in a work place. Many of those ideas contradict the way of life during the time of the Prophet,” he said.

“We are all human beings and there is no difference.”

He has curbed the powers of the country’s so-called “religious police,” who until recently were able to arrest women for not covering up, the NYT said. And listen carefully to what he says is not part of Islamic Law.

“The laws are very clear and stipulated in the laws of Sharia: that women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men. This, however, does not particularly specify a black abaya or a black head cover. The decision is entirely left for women to decide what type of decent and respectful attire she chooses to wear.”

Roots of Saudi extremism

MBS confessed that the country has been dominated by the conservative rules for many years. “We were victims, especially my generation that suffered from this a great deal,” he said.

“This is not the real Saudi Arabia. I would ask your viewers to use their smart phones to find out. And they can Google Saudi Arabia in the 70s and 60s, and they will see the real Saudi Arabia easily in the pictures.

“We were living a very normal life like the rest of the Gulf countries. Women were driving cars. There were movie theaters in Saudi Arabia. Women worked everywhere. We were just normal people developing like any other country in the world until the events of 1979.”

The anti-corruption purge

He made headlines throughout the world with his shocking anti-corruption drive which saw Saudi’s elite being taken under custody. The arrested were detained in the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. A few believed that the move aimed at consolidating his power.

“What we did in Saudi Arabia was extremely necessary” and legal, he said.

He said he was able to recover more than “$100 billion” of ill-gotten wealth from the detainees, but added: “The idea is not to get money, but to punish the corrupt and send a clear signal that whoever engages in corrupt deals will face the law.”

His personal wealth

He has been criticized for his immensely luxurious lifestyle at a time his government is suggesting greater austerity of its citizens and has imposed new taxes.

He was recently revealed as the owner of a French chateau described as the world’s most expensive home, according to a report in the New York Times.

However, he shrugs the accusation saying it was a private matter. “As far as my private expenses, I’m a rich person and not a poor person. I’m not Gandhi or Mandela.

He added: “But what I do as a person is to spend part of my personal income on charity. I spend at least 51 percent on people and 49 on myself.”

Rise to the throne

The prince who looks set to have a long tenure at the top once his father makes way, said that ‘only death’ could stop him.