Newswatch | Newswatch

You are here

Media should not be allowed to rule in Iraq: Saudi Prince

DUBAI – Democracy as perceived by the US should not be imposed on Iraq at this point of time, Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, the jet-setting prince of Saudi Arabia said yesterday. A vocal supporter of the US, Al Waleed bin Talal said that it was too early to let media rule in Iraq.

"Iraq is a complicated country which has never experienced stability. Right now, it would be right to let the country have only one voice - one newspaper, one radio and one TV station," he said. Al Waleed bin Talal was being interviewed in the 'Spotlight' session of the Arab and World Media conference by Jim Kelly, Managing Editor, TIME Magazine and Khaled Al Maeena, Editor-in-Chief, Arab News.

"We understand the reforms taking place in the Arab world. All pressures including external and from the media are great, but, all reforms should be indigenous," he said, when asked whether President Bashar Al Assad of Syria understood the need for reforms, though other Arab leaders felt the need.

"I will let you know the details when I meet him next week," he added. Stating that the US cannot withdraw troops from Iraq because of the Iraqi people, he said : "But the US has misunderstood the situation in Iraq."

Al Waleed bin Talal, a businessman-cum-political activist who has a $10 billion stake in Citigroup, has called for a range of reforms – elections, women's rights and job creation in Saudi Arabia.

Asked about the Arab perception of the West, he said : "The Arab world does not understand the American system." Elaborating, he explanied that he had set up centres at universities in Cairo and Beirut to teach the American political system.

On his latest spin through the US earlier this year, he said he met with former US presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and President George Bush to talk about what he calls "narrowing the gap between the US and Saudi Arabia."

Asked if he thought that the American Press was pro-Israel, his reply was candid : "Indeed, this is what we think, but as Arabs, we are not doing our job to change this perception of the Americans."

Quoting a recent incident, he said: "I was in America watching Fox News when I saw a news report being labelled as Muslim riots. I immediately called up Fox Murdoch and informed him that it was wrong to label any riot caused by whatever reason as Muslim. After a short while, there was a change, and the news report about Muslim riots was simply labelled as riots."

Talking about his political ambitions, Al Waleed bin Talal said that all his political ambitions would be channelled through the Saudi government. "I have all the freedom to carry out my political ambitions. We are members of the royal family and we are united behind our King Abdullah whose policies are pragmatic and logical," he said, adding : "As a statesman, I think that Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Likud might be for the better. Sharon is a doubtful man and now he wants to have a legacy. It is time that Israel gives in to reality and gives the Palestinians their rights."

Comparing the Sabra and Shatilla events with those of 9/11, Al Waleed bin Talal deplored both incidents saying that they were crimes against humanity. Asked how he intended to keep the Internet honest, he said that to keep the TV and Internet honest was the duty of the media.

Date posted: December 6, 2005 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 12