Prince Nayef, likely to become heir to Saudi king | Reuters
Nayef’s three decades as interior minister have allowed him to extend his authority across government into foreign policy, religious affairs and the media.
He oversees arrangements for the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca, when 2 million Muslims gather in the birthplace of Islam, and heads security cooperation with Yemen and other countries trying to stem the flow of infiltrators, drugs smugglers and arms traffickers across Saudi borders.
Conservative even by Saudi Arabia’s austere standards, Nayef is sometimes portrayed as putting the brakes on the king’s cautious political reforms.
Earlier this year he publicly admonished a member of the mainly consultative Shura Council who had called for a review of the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia.
It was also Nayef who ended months of speculation in the run-up to partial elections in February 2005 as to whether women would be allowed to vote or stand for office. Nayef said it was too soon for women to take part — and the debate was over.
Ce qui n’empêche pas Reuters de trouver des « analystes » (qui ? qui ?) pour prétendre que, malgré ce profil ultra-réactionnaire et une réputation de maître tortionnaire, dès qu’il se sera au pouvoir, Nayef sera un « modéré ».
Analysts say Nayef may take a more moderate line if he becomes king, and note that the present monarch was portrayed as a staunch conservative when he became crown prince in 1995, but proved to be a sometimes ambitious reformer as king.
Comme qui dirait, un quasi-démocrate...
Pour rappel, même le relais des séoudiens au Liban, Saad Hariri, avait qualifié le prince Nayef d’« assassin » en le comparant à Bashar Assad. La diffusion de cet enregistrement avait fait grand bruit en janvier dernier.