1998 News Story

Prince Nayef interviewed by BBC Arabic Service
Prince Nayef Ibn Abdul Aziz, Minister of Interior of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, gave an interview to the Arabic Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which was broadcast on April 28, 1998.

Concerning Yemen, Prince Nayef presented the Saudi position towards the border issue as being in line with the interests of both countries, and categorically denied any Saudi involvement in recent incidents of sabotage and kidnapping in the neighboring republic.
In response to a question whether Saudi authorities should share responsibility for the fatal stampede of pilgrims at this year's Hajj, in the sense that they should have made provisions bearing in mind the restricted location, the timing of the ritual, and number of those participating, Prince Nayef remarked that a repetition of the incident could not be ruled out, given the density of the crowd, and referred to similar congestion-related accidents at soccer stadiums.  He urged Muslim countries to ensure that their nationals who come on the pilgrimage are fully aware of Hajj regulations.  Prince Nayef went on to state that the organization of the Hajj was and would remain the sole responsibility of Saudi Arabia.

As for Iran, Prince Nayef said that the Kingdom's concern during the Hajj is the safety and security of pilgrims, hence the situation regarding the Iranian demonstration;  and that the recent rapprochement in the political field is dictated by the common interests of two neighboring Muslim countries.  In answer to a question whether Iran is still accused by Saudi Arabia of being involved in the Al-Khobar bombing, Prince Nayef said:  "The investigation has been completed and we have neither accused nor acquitted anybody."   Prince Nayef reiterated that the bombing incident concerns the Kingdom in the first instance, but indicated that there is an 'understanding' with the authorities in the United States.
Turning to Iraq, the interviewer asked whether Saudi Arabia considers that it is time to mend fences and live peaceably with the current political regime in Baghdad.   Prince Nayef stated that there should be no threat from any Arab country against a fellow country, and what is required from Iraq is compliance with the UN security council resolutions and the realization of the well being of the Iraqi people.
In regard to oil, Prince Nayef said the Kingdom was dealing with it as a commodity on the market, and dissociated oil policy from any domestic financial crisis, adding that Saudi Arabia calls on oil exporters to adhere to the OPEC quotas.
Concerning the health of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz, Prince Nayef gave assurance that he "is enjoying good and comfortable health".  As for the matter of the succession, he said that this had been resolved according to the Basic Law of Government and that the situation in the Kingdom is stable.   Regarding democracy, and whether it would be introduced into the Kingdom, Prince Nayef said that the political approach is a tool and not a goal, and that the goal for the Kingdom is confined to two matters:  to adhere to the Shari'ah, and to do what benefits the Saudi people.  Asked whether he wants to put that as "no to democracy", Prince Nayef said rather, "yes for Islam".
On the issue of the system of justice in the Kingdom, Prince Nayef stated that the judicial authorities in his country do not differentiate between a national or an expatriate criminal in the matter of guilt;  moreover, Islamic Shari'ah is the best law in observance of and respect for human rights. Answering a question on whether it is time for Saudi authorities to reconsider the prohibition of women from participating in public life and to grant them some simple rights such as that of driving, Prince Nayef said: "Females in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia enjoy full respect, and advance at the same pace as males.  Whatever benefits women and at the same time does not contradict Islamic Shari'ah and is accepted by our society, will be realized."