Saudi King Abdullah has decided Muslim women finally "have demonstrated positions that expressed correct opinions" and will be allowed to vote. But not until 2015.
Sounds encouraging since Saudi Arabia is apparently the last country in the world to grant suffrage to women. But it’s largely meaningless because elections are largely meaningless.
Women will be able to vote and run for office in the 2015 round of municipal elections, but not the ones scheduled for this week. They will also be able to serve on the Shura Council, which is purely advisory.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive regimes in the world, not free by any definition.
The White House, which is trying to repair strained relations with the kingdom, "welcomed" the king’s decision as "an important step forward in expanding the rights of women."
But Saudi women still won’t be allowed drive a car and will need the permission of a male guardian to leave the country or get married.
Although the king’s decision as an important step in the right direction, women still won’t have an important voice in governing their country, but then neither do men since the ultra-conservative kingdom is ruled by a corrupt circle of royals and hangers-on beholden to the puritanical extremist Wahhabi Islamic clerics for the regime’s legitimacy.
"Even in the Middle East, where women’s rights have lagged behind much of the rest of the world, Saudi Arabia has stood out as a reactionary citadel against the march of feminism," reported the Telegraph.
There is much hope that the Arab spring will lead to democratic elections this fall in Egypt and Tunisia. In Israel, Arab women have always been free to vote and compete in free and fair elections, and in 2009 Hanin Zoubi of the Balad party, became the first woman elected to Knesset on an Arab party’s list.