The formation of Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption commission and the arrest of dozens of princes and former ranking officials have brought to focus the prospects for political and economic reform in the Kingdom. Many observers have characterized these recent steps as an attempt by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to sideline opponents of his bold, far-reaching reforms. Yet a closer analysis suggests that these measures are part of an effort to consolidate and centralize power in ways that will only move the Kingdom farther away from greater political inclusion and participation. They also threaten the future of stability inside the Kingdom and the region at large. More generally, these recent developments raise critical questions regarding the feasibility of advancing the Crown Prince’s proposed economic reforms in the absence of meaningful political reform that could allow for monitoring and holding accountable the proclaimed leaders of economic reforms.
Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, and author. Born in Medina, Saudi Arabia, in 1958, where he completed high school, Jamal graduated from Indiana State University in 1982. Khashoggi began his career as a correspondent for the English language Saudi Gazette. Between 1987-90, he was a foreign correspondent for the pan-Arab Arabic daily Alsharq Alawsat and the Jeddah-based, English language daily Arab News. He became widely recognized for his coverage of the Afghan War and the first Gulf War (1990-91). From 1990 to 1999, Jamal was foreign correspondent for the other prominent pan-Arab Arabic daily, Al-Hayat. There he reported on Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Sudan, and various conflicts in the Middle East. As a result of his extensive experience, he became known as an expert in political Islam and related movements. In 1999, Jamal was appointed Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Arab News, the leading English newspaper of Saudi Arabia. In 2003, he became Editor-in-Chief of Al-Watan, the country’s pioneering reformist newspaper. In less than two month he lost his job because of his editorial policies. He was then appointed as the media advisor to Prince Turki Al-Faisal, then-Saudi Ambassador in London and later Washington. In 2007, he returned to Al-Watan as Editor-in-Chief. In 2010, again due to his editorial style, pushing boundaries of discussion and debate within Saudi society, he was fired. In June 2010, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal appointed Jamal to lead a new 24-hour Arabic news channel, Al-Arab. He launched the station in Manama, Bahrain, in 2015. On the air less than 11 hours, the government ordered Al-Arab to cease broadcasting. Jamal is now an independent writer based in Washington, DC.