US embassy cable - 94RIYADH2051

THE SAUDI MAJLIS ASH-SHURA: NO PROBLEMS, NO VISITORS, NO VISIBLE RESULTS

Identifier: 94RIYADH2051
Wikileaks: View 94RIYADH2051 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Riyadh
Created: 1994-04-16 12:18:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV KISL SA
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 161218Z APR 94
FM AMEMBASSY RIYADH
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4680
INFO ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
USIA WASHDC 1464
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 RIYADH 002051 
 
USIA FOR NEA (HUNTER/KHOURY), R (POLLACK), P/G 
 
E.O.12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, KISL, SA 
SUBJECT:  THE SAUDI MAJLIS ASH-SHURA:  NO PROBLEMS, 
          NO VISITORS, NO VISIBLE RESULTS 
 
REF:  (A) 93 RIYADH 8901,  (B) 93 JEDDAH 2550, 
      (C) 93 RIYADH 4727 
 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL -- ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  MAJLIS ASH-SHURA PRESIDENT MOHAMMED BIN 
JUBAIR REVIEWED IN GENERAL TERMS THE WORK OF THE MAJLIS 
ASH-SHURA, ASSERTING THAT IT WAS PROCEEDING SMOOTHLY AND 
SATISFACTORILY.  HE SAID, WITHOUT ELABORATION, THAT THE 
MAJLIS ASH-SHURA HAS NOT YET ESTABLISHED A VISITORS 
POLICY.  ON FOREIGN POLICY, BIN JUBAIR SAID THAT THE 
ATTAINMENT OF PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST WAS PARAMOUNT, 
THAT HE SUPPORTED U.S. PRESSURE ON NORTH KOREA (BUT 
WONDERED WHY THE U.S. DOES NOT APPLY EQUAL PRESSURE ON 
ISRAEL BECAUSE OF ITS NUCLEAR WEAPONS), AND THAT HE 
APPROVED OF RECENT U.N. ACTIONS IN BOSNIA.  END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  CHARGE APRIL 13 MET WITH MAJLIS ASH-SHURA 
(CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL) PRESIDENT MOHAMMAD BIN JUBAIR TO 
OFFER HIS PERSONAL CONGRATULATIONS ON THE INAUGURATION 
OF THE MAJLIS ASH-SHURA BY KING FAHD LAST DECEMBER 29 
(REF A) AND TO REVIEW WITH BIN JUBAIR THE ACTIVITIES OF 
THE BODY SINCE THEN. 
 
 
REVIEWS WORK OF COUNCIL:  NO PROBLEMS 
------------------------------------- 
 
4.  BIN JUBAIR SAID THE WORK OF THE COUNCIL WAS GOING 
SMOOTHLY.  COMMITTEES, COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN AND COMMITTEE 
VICE-CHAIRMEN HAD BEEN NAMED AND EVERYONE WAS VERY BUSY 
AT WORK.  THE COUNCIL MEETS TWICE A MONTH (ON SUNDAYS) 
AND ITS COMMITTEES MEET ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK.  HE SAID 
THAT THE COUNCIL IS CURRENTLY FOCUSING ITS ATTENTION ON 
"REGULATIONS" AND "INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS." 
 
5.  REVIEWING PROCEDURE -- AND CONFIRMING INFORMATION 
GIVEN TO US IN DECEMBER BY MAJLIS ASH-SHURA VICE 
PRESIDENT ABDULLAH NASEEF (REF B) -- BIN JUBAIR SAID 
THAT AFTER A COMMITTEE HAS STUDIED AN ISSUE, IT SENDS A 
REPORT TO THE FULL COUNCIL.  IF THERE ARE OBJECTIONS IN 
THE COUNCIL, THE REPORT IS REVIEWED BY THE EXECUTIVE 
COMMITTEE OF THE COUNCIL (COMPRISED OF THE PRESIDENT, 
VICE-PRESIDENT AND COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN) WHICH DECIDES 
WHETHER THE REPORT IS TO BE SENT BACK TO COMMITTEE FOR 
FURTHER WORK OR FORWARDED TO THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS 
FOR ACTION. 
 
6.  ON THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE MAJLIS ASH-SHURA AND THE 
REGIONAL COUNCILS, BIN JUBAIR SAID THAT THERE WAS AS YET 
NO WORKING RELATIONSHIP.  BUT HE EXPRESSED THE HOPE THAT 
THE REGIONAL BODIES AND THE MAJLIS MIGHT IN FUTURE SHARE 
"STUDIES AND OPINIONS ON CERTAIN TOPICS," PERHAPS 
THROUGH AN ANNUAL JOINT MEETING WHICH MIGHT "OPEN A NEW 
ERA FOR CONSULTATION, DISCUSSIONS AND NEW IDEAS." 
 
7.  RESPONDING TO CHARGE'S QUESTION AS TO HOW OTHER SAG 
GOVERNMENT AGENCIES WERE REACTING TO THE MAJLIS 
ASH-SHURA, BIN JUBAIR SAID THAT THE MINISTRIES WERE 
GENERALLY PLEASED WITH THE FACT THAT THEY COULD REFER 
THEIR PROBLEMS/ISSUES TO THE MAJLIS WHERE SPECIALISTS 
COULD STUDY AND THEN RECOMMEND SOLUTIONS FOR THEM.  HE 
NOTED HERE THAT ALTHOUGH THERE WERE THREE "POWERS" IN 
THE KINGDOM -- THE JUDICIAL, THE EXECUTIVE, AND THE 
ORGANIZATIONAL -- THE JUDICIAL (THE ISLAMIC LAW OF THE 
SHARIA)) WAS SUPREME, I.E. THAT THERE WAS NO SET OF 
CHECKS AND BALANCES AT WORK, BUT RATHER LAW DERIVED FROM 
THE QURAN WITH WHICH THE BEHAVIOR OF RULERS AND COUNCILS 
ALIKE MUST BE CONSISTENT. 
 
 
UNTIL PROCEDURES ARE ANNOUNCED:  NO VISITORS 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
8.  CHARGE ASKED WHETHER THE MAJLIS HAD DEVELOPED A 
VISITORS POLICY.  HE NOTED THAT THERE IS CONSIDERABLE 
INTEREST IN THE ACTIVITIES OF THE MAJLIS ASH-SHURA IN 
THE U.S. -- THAT NEWS OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE MAJLIS 
IN DECEMBER HAD MADE THE EVEN LOCAL CALIFORNIA PAPERS 
WHERE CHARGE HAD BEEN ON LEAVE -- AND THAT FUTURE 
OFFICIAL AND UNOFFICIAL VISITORS TO THE KINGDOM WOULD 
CERTAINLY BE SEEKING TO MEET WITH MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL. 
 
9.  JUBAIR SAID THAT THERE WAS AS YET NO PROCEDURE 
WHEREBY FOREIGN ACADEMICS, DIPLOMATS OR HIGH-RANKING 
VISITORS COULD ARRANGE FOR VISITS WITH MEMBERS OF THE 
MAJLIS ASH-SHURA, BUT THAT HE EXPECTED THAT THERE WOULD 
BE A WRITTEN POLICY IN THE FUTURE.  HE SAID THAT THOSE 
WISHING TO MEET WITH MAJLIS OFFICIALS NEEDED FOR THE 
TIME BEING TO SUBMIT FORMAL DIPLOMATIC REQUESTS TO THE 
FOREIGN MINISTRY WHICH WOULD THEN CONSULT WITH THE 
COUNCIL PRESIDENT (I.E. BIN JUBAIR). 
 
 
THE PEACE PROCESS: NUMBER ONE PRIORITY 
-------------------------------------- 
 
10.  INVITED TO COMMENT ON FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES, BIN 
JUBAIR SAID THAT PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST WAS THE NUMBER 
ONE PRIORITY AND THAT SAUDI ARABIA "HOPED, WANTED AND 
EXPECTED" THAT U.S. PARTICIPATION IN THE PEACE PROCESS 
WOULD BE "FAIR."  HE FURTHER NOTED THAT HE AGREED WITH 
U.S. PRESSURE ON NORTH KOREA TO LIMIT NUCLEAR WEAPONS 
PROLIFERATION, BUT WONDERED WHY THE U.S. WAS NOT 
PRESSURING ISRAEL AS WELL.  HE ALSO EXPRESSED HIS 
APPROVAL OF RECENT U.N. ACTIONS IN BOSNIA. 
 
11.  CHARGE SAID THAT THE U.S. IS WORKING HARD TO HELP 
ACHIEVE PEACE IN THE REGION AND THAT IT IS UNLIKELY THAT 
ONE COULD FIND A COUNTRY AS FAIR IN ITS EFFORTS.  CHARGE 
ALSO EXPLAINED THAT ISRAEL IS ONE OF THREE 
NON-SIGNATORIES OF THE NPT.  THE U.S. IS PRESSURING 
NORTH KOREA BECAUSE IT SIGNED THE NPT AND THEN LIED 
ABOUT THE NATURE OF ITS NUCLEAR ACTIVITIES.  CHARGE 
NOTED THAT UNIVERSALITY OF NPT ADHERENCE IS U.S. POLICY, 
A POSITION THAT IS WELL KNOWN TO ISRAEL.  FROM TIME TO 
TIME, WE REITERATE OUR VIEWS ON THIS TO ISRAEL. 
 
WHILE WAITING FOR RESULTS:  NO DISTRACTIONS 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
13.  COMMENT:  BIN JUBAIR AND OTHER SAG OFFICIALS HAVE 
TAKEN PAINS TO EXPLAIN TO US THAT THEY VIEW THE MAJLIS 
ASH-SHURA AS A CONSULTATIVE, BUT NOT A DEMOCRATIC OR A 
LEISLATIVE BODY.  IT MAY BE THAT THE SAG HOPES THAT TE 
DELIBERATIONS OF THIS BODY, GUIDED BY THE SAUD 
LEADERSHIP, WILL INCREASE POPULAR SUPPORT FOR THE REGIME 
AS IT ENTERS A PERIOD OF TOUGH FINANCIAL TIMES REQUIRING 
TOUGH REFORMS.  THE SAG MAY HAVE DECIDED THAT AS THE 
MAJLIS ASH-SHURA FINDS ITS OWN WAY AND UNTIL IT HAS 
ESTABLISHED SOME RECORD OF ACCOMPLISHMENT, THAT IT DOES 
NOT WANT ITS MEMBERS DISTRACTED BY THE QUERIES OF 
FOREIGN ACADEMICS, DIPLOMATS OR OFFICIALS PUSHING HIDDEN 
(DEMOCRATIC) AGENDAS.  WE WILL CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR 
OFFICIAL ACCESS TO THE MEMBERS OF THE MAJLIS (WE DO MEET 
MAJLIS MEMBERS UNOFFICIALLY FROM TIME TO TIME ALTHOUGH 
THEY APPEAR TO BE UNDER SOME SORT OF GAG RULE). 
 
14.  IN CHARGE'S THIRD MEETING WITH HIM (OTHER MEETINGS 
OCCURRED IN JANUARY AND JULY OF LAST YEAR), BIN JUBAIR 
SEEMED RELAXED, CONFIDENT AND READY TO DISCUSS MAJLIS 
AFFAIRS, IF ON HIS OWN TERMS.  HE STRUCK US AS SOMEONE 
WHO BELIEVES IN THE CERTAIN RELIABILITY OF HIS ISLAMIC 
MORAL COMPASS AND WHO IS CONFIDENT THAT FOLLOWING IT 
WILL LEAD TO THE REQUIRED SOLUTIONS.  WITH THAT 
CONFIDENCE BIN JUBAIR SEEMS BENT ON MOVING AT HIS OWN 
DELIBERATE PACE ON WHAT HE SEES TO BE THE NECESSARY WORK 
OF THE MAJLIS ASH-SHURA IN THE FACE OF WHATEVER 
SKEPTICISM MAY EXIST INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE KINGDOM. 
END COMMENT. 
 
 
WELCH 

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