Free Princes Movement

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Free Princes Movement (Arabic: حركة الأمراء الأحرار‎) was a Saudi liberal political movement from 1958 to 1964. Its members were known as the Young Najd, Free Princes, and Liberal Princes.

Establishment[edit]

Free Princes Movement was founded by Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud due to the tensions between Crown Prince Faisal and King Saud. It was heavily idealized around the iconic figure of Gamal Abdel Nasser and his pan-Arab nationalism. It called for political reforms and a constitution.[1]

It received support from liberal Saudi middle class but generally did not have a broad base with the entire population.[2][3] The movement was supported by Talal's brothers, Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz, Fawwaz bin Abdulaziz and Badr bin Abdulaziz.[3][4] Another brother, Prince Abdul Muhsin vocally supported the movement and suggested a constitutional monarchy.[5] In addition, the movement was also supported by younger princes from the cadet branches of the House of Saud.[6] Another significant ally was then oil minister Abdullah Tariki.[6] Then Crown Prince Faisal expelled many of its members to Lebanon and later on pardoned them when he became the King.

Internal royal opposition[edit]

Prince Talal suggested the creation of a national council in 1958.[3] The group drafted its own constitution. Its constitution placed more power in the hands of the cabinet, removed most of the authorities of the King, and created a partially elected advisory committee.[7] Most members of the Al Saud were strongly opposed to the movement and both King Saud and Crown Prince Faisal repudiated its reforms initially. It was also attacked as "crypto-communist" by King Saud.[2]

In May 1960, Prince Talal told Egyptian newspaper Al Gomhuria (The Republic) of a gradual trend towards a "constituent assembly, first constitution, supreme court, and a supreme planning commission". He went on to say "the problem is how to accomplish this experiment".[2][3]

However, in December 1960, Talal's supporters formed a coalition with King Saud to undermine Faisal's growing influence.[2][3] Saud promoted Talal from minister of transport to minister of finance.[3] But in a turn of events, the movement began to support many of Crown Prince Faisal's reforms.[2]

In the late 1961 King Saud began to lose considerable support in the House of Saud. He increasing became dependent on the few Nasserite nationalists in his Cabinet. Saud reconciled with Faisal under Faisal's precondition to remove the movement entirely from the cabinet.[8]

The movement was exiled to Lebanon. Prince Talal moved in and out of Beirut and Cairo for the next few years.[3]

At the end of 1962, they formed the Arab National Liberation Front ('Free Saudis Movement') in Cairo that is commonly referred to as Free Princes Movement.[9]

Egyptian link and Yemen revolution[edit]

Its name originates from the Free Officers Movement, a group led by Nasser which overthrew the Egyptian monarchy.[2]

Talal applauded Nasser after Egypt's successful long-range missile tests.[5] Even after Nasser called for the overthrow of the Al Saud in Saudi Arabia by stating “to liberate all Jerusalem, the Arab peoples must first liberate Riyadh”, Talal went to Cairo to meet Egypt's military brass.[5] Talal's supporters — Prince Fawwaz, Prince Badr, and a cousin- Saad bin Fahd — also self-exiled to Cairo.[8]

Yemen's revolution, which evolved into a cold war between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, led to increased power for the Free Princes movement which did not call for the complete overthrow of the Saudi monarchy but simply major democratic reforms.[10] In September 1962 Egyptian, Syrian, and Yemeni radio stations openly encouraged Saudis to rebel against their "corrupt" and "reactionary" monarchy and to supplanting with members of the Free Prince movement.[8]

Estrangement with Nasser[edit]

Radio Yemen (an Egyptian controlled organ) called for the assassinations of the Al Saud without any exceptions, including the Free Princes. Because of this and various other reasons, the Free Princes became increasingly embittered with Nasser.

In August 1963, Talal declared that he was "entirely wrong" in the past and praised Faisal's reforms. By early 1964, the Free Princes returned from exile in Beirut. The movement ended.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Saudi 'Red Prince' still demanding reform at age 82". France 24. AFP. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Menoret, Pascal. The Saudi Enigma: a History. New York: Zed, 2005. 115-16. Print. [1]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Vijay Prashad (2007). The Darker Nations- A Biography of the Short-Lived Third World. LeftWord Books. p. 275. ISBN 978-81-87496-66-3. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Sabri Sharaf (2001). The House of Saud in Commerce: A Study of Royal Entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia. Sharaf Sabri. p. 137. ISBN 978-81-901254-0-6. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Henderson, Simon (14 September 2009). "Saudi Sucession--a Desert Legacy". The Cutting Edge. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Kai Bird (20 April 2010). Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978. Simon and Schuster. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-4391-7160-8. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Khan, Riz. Alwaleed: Businessman, Billionaire, Prince. New York: William Morrow, 2005. 17-19. Print. [2]
  8. ^ a b c Abir, Mordechai. Saudi Arabia: Government, Society, and the Gulf Crisis. London: Routledge, 1993. 42-44. Print. [3]
  9. ^ Abir, Mordechai (April 1987). "The Consolidation of the Ruling Class and the New Elites in Saudi Arabia". Middle Eastern Studies 23 (2): 150–171. doi:10.1080/00263208708700697. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  10. ^ A Brief History of Saudi Arabia by James Wynbrandt, Fawaz A. Gerges