Saudi Arabia is now moving toward a form of 'moderate' islam. So says their new leader and who could not rejoice at such news, if it were true.
But moving towards a moderate islam confirms that there is also an immoderate islam, and also to admit that the Saudis have previously been followers of that radical ideology. Nothing new here, but I guess an admission of truth is better than continued denial.
The problem is that page one of the International Liars Manual, states that a half truth is always more convincing than a complete lie, so what are we to make of these latest claims?
A skeptic (count me in), would point to the failure of Saudi aggression in Yemen, including their support for Al Qaeda and miserable results of their arming, aiding and financing terrorism in Syria, Iraq and almost everywhere that islamic terrorism exists. Could these disasters have something to do with the new apparent humanity of the Saudi leadership?
That Russia and Iran have emerged stronger from this Saudi destructiveness might also have something to do with the Arabian change of direction, and although we may need to wait a while longer for proof, we should not allow optimism to overrule caution, because the Saudis have a word for telling non-Muslims what they want to hear about the moderateness of their religion.
The American public, especially under Trump, are unlikely to give Saudi Arabia the sort of support they demand, while they continue with their murderous, misogynistic and dehumanizing ways, so is this the real motivation for embracing such wonderful freedoms as letting women drive?
As with the abolition of slavery in 1962 when US pressure forced an earlier flirtation with moderation, we should not underestimate the political agility of Saudi rulers, nor should we assume that one minuscule movement towards humane behaviour indicates anything more than a single, small step in the right direction.