Saudi Prince Readies Strategy if Clerics Oppose Reforms: Report

Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gives a press conference in Riyadh, on April 25, 2016. The key figure behind the unveiling of a vast plan to restructure the kingdom's oil-dependent economy, the son of King Salman has risen to among Saudi Arabia's most influential figures …
FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty

RIYADH (Reuters) – The young prince leading Saudi Arabia’s drive for economic reform has laid out a three-pronged strategy to avoid a backlash from any religious conservatives opposed to his plan, according to remarks reported by Foreign Affairs magazine on Saturday.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 31-year-old overseeing the kingdom’s biggest-ever overhaul of state and society, told visiting researchers last month punitive measures would be considered for any clerics who incited or resorted to violence over the plan, one of the researchers wrote.

Prince Mohammed said he believed only a small percentage of the kingdom’s clerics were too dogmatic to be reasoned with, the journal reported, while more than half could be persuaded to support his reforms through engagement and dialogue.

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