Saudis, Bahrainis will overthrow monarchies in 2013 : Analyst
The comments came after Saudi protesters staged anti-regime demonstrations in several cities to demand the immediate release of prisoners of conscience and those held in prisons without charge for a long time.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Chris Bambery, author and Middle East expert, to further discuss the issue. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Some have been suggesting in fact that the US has lot of influence in the council that appoints the next king and is in charge of the succession. Question, how much of an influence do you think the US actually has when it comes to the issue of succession in Saudi Arabia?
Bambery: I think the US has some considerable control over the situation in Saudi Arabia and everything Saudi Arabia does for instance the intervention in Bahrain, the invasion of Bahrain had to be authorized by Washington. I think it will be a sense of trepidation in Washington and indeed London the other key Western ally of Saudi Arabia over these demonstrations that we are seeing on our TV screens tonight particularly because for the last year there have been demonstrations in the east of the country.
We are now seeing demonstrations in Riyadh, in Jeddah, in the center, the heartlands of the regime and the spotlight has been put on the situation of human rights and political prisoners there which as you said an introduction to peace is very embarrassing for United States and the United Kingdom.
You know, who are very quick to blame certain regimes, certain countries with human rights abuses but they have always kept quiet about Saudi Arabia. And now we are being told there are some 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia, many of them have been imprisoned without trial, torture is absolutely common we are being told and this is why the protest is taking place over this and that spotlight is embarrassing for the Americans, is embarrassing for the British and at the time of succession they may feel they have to intervene, at least have some rhetoric or some words from the new Saudi ruler that they will do something about the human rights situation.
Press TV: Chris Bambery, the question is a lot of people are saying in case of Bahrain the fact that there is Western support for the regime there, that is hindering the revolution from achieving any meaningful results. Do you think that will be the case in Saudi Arabia as well? I mean Saudi Arabia has been described by many as a puppet regime for the West etc. How dependant do you think Saudi regime is actually to that Western support?
Bambery: Well I think there is a difference in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Bahrain is relatively a small area, it is containable. It is also of course the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet. The Americans and the British have got strategic interest in relation to military buildup in the [Persian] Gulf.
Now things are beginning to spiral out of control in terms of the whole region. Just a year ago, it was widely accepted that really the Arab Spring will not enter the whole Peninsula. Now we have the situation in Bahrain, ongoing, we have the situation in Kuwait and we have these demonstrations in Saudi Arabia.
The Americans and the British do have considerable clout particularly the Americans in Saudi Arabia, and must be embarrassed by this; but at the same time, they need the House of Saud, they need it economic way. There are major arms deal which in both American, Britain and the House of Al Saud but also Saudi Arabia is key in terms of the intervention elsewhere in the Arab world.
After the fall of Mubarak, Saudi Arabia is now the main player for the West in trying to stem the Arab Spring and we have seen the Saudis intervening in Syria and indeed in Libya, taking an active role in Egypt. And any weakening of the Saudi royal family, any weakening of the Saudi royal power will be seen as very, very dangerous by Washington and they are caught between their rhetoric about human rights in certain countries and then suddenly the exposure of what the reality is in Saudi Arabia.
I read an interview with the Minister of Interior where he said half the prisoners are probably innocent. We will sort them [out], we will interrogate them. We know what interrogation means in Saudi Arabia, it means brutality and torture.
So half the people are probably innocent according to him. They will be released after being interrogated, it means a shocking statement to heal…
Press TV: Chris Bambery, why is the international community not taking those steps? Is it basically because of that alliance with Washington?
Bambery: First of all there is a strong economic interest of the West in Saudi Arabia because of the oil. Secondly is well, they are very, very close strategically. Saudi Arabia is the main counter revolutionary power in the region now after the fall of Mubarak. And we see Saudi Arabians intervening as we have said in Syria, intervening as we have said in Libya, egging on the Americans to attack Iran. We should remember that Saudi Arabia monarchy hates the Islamic Republic of Iran.
They are the key counter revolutionary power in the region and as I said seeing the demonstrations particularly in the heartlands of Saudi regime, in Riyadh, in Jeddah, in Medina, taking place over these human rights issues despite strong statements by the regime saying that demonstrations are banned which Amnesty International has criticized must cause nervousness in Washington.
The Arab Spring is not going to stop at the borders of the Arabian Peninsula, it is going to enter Saudi Arabia where there is a young population, many of whom are without jobs. There is going to be fertile soil for the Arab Spring in Saudi Arabia.
And therefore I agree, I think 2013 is going to be an interesting year. The Saudis have not been able to stop the demonstrations and protests in Bahrain, they have not been able to stop the spread of the movements in Kuwait and now they are not able to stop their spread into their own country and I think you can see there must be worries in Washington and worries in Riyadh that the days of the House of Al Saud are numbered.