- ISRAA EMAD
Are monarchies more stable than republics in the Middle East?
Many of the political observers stood bewildered and astonished against how to explain the ability and solidarity of the Arab Monarchs, Emirs and Sultans to ride out and stand against the storm and the tide of the Arab Spring Revolutions that have swept the Arab Countries during the past three years. For many of them, the fetch out answer to this shear dilemma has to be a matter related to the typology of the regime itself. The Arab Monarchs possess a unique cultural and hereditary legitimacy entailed their solidarity and stability rooted in the grounds of better governmental performance. This can help us understand the variation between two types of monarchies prevailing in the Arab World; the dynastic one applicable in the GCC countries and the Individual one as in the case of both Morocco and Jordan (Gause, 2013) …
No Arab Monarchy has been toppled during the Arab Uprising Revolutions save the Kingdom of Bahrain. These dynastic regimes survived for decades against the political storms that have blown away the republican neighboring states. Claims that monarchies in the ME region are inherently more solid and stable or on the other hand, their fall and collapse are only a matter of years away misinterpret the overwhelming situation justifiably as the Arab monarchies are there to stay.
Typology of Regimes :
Political scientists classify regimes according to their types; Monarchy as in case of the Sultanate of Brunei and Saudi Arabia, totalitarian dictatorship as in the case of the Nazi of Germany and Qaddafi of Libya, Aristocracy as in the ancient Sparta, Democracy as in ancient Athens and United states, anarchy as in recent Somalia, Authoritarian as in the case of Egypt and China and Constitutional as in the case of united kingdom and Japan (Linz, 2000).
Arab Spring Shakes Regimes prevailing in the ME:
What were called the “Arab Spring Revolutions” has erupted in several Arab countries, commencing with Tunisia, then crawling to touch Egypt, Libya, Yemen and strikes Syria, leading to the collapse of the republican regimes produced by the revolutionary legitimacy. Accordingly, a significant and remarkable phenomenon has appeared, which should be studied, analyzed and considered deliberately and objectively. Such phenomenon is represented in fact that the Arab monarchy regimes, with its constitutional legitimacy, withstood, even if for a period of time, against the waves and tides of the Arab Spring Revolutions compared to the notorious collapse of republican regimes. The republican regimes could not withstand it terms of its revolutionary legitimacy; alleged fifty years earlier, to resist such revolutions. One should ask what are the reasons beyond such phenomenon? (Al Abdeh, 2012).
The most important reason this domino phenomenon is represented in the fact that the constitutional legitimacy upon which the monarchy regimes grounded their superstructures is emerged from societal, religious and historical heritage of the royal families as in the case in Jordan and Morocco. Moreover, the genealogy of these families is ascribed to the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be upon Him). Such families have not risen to power through the military barracks or conferences. Additionally, these families have not usurped the power through coup d’etat or assassinations as was the case with most republican regimes that rule the Arab world since a half of century (Kurzman, 2004).
The second reason is that the Arab monarchies have stable semi-democratic regimes resulting from constitutional and institutional heritage that is not owned by the dictatorial, totalitarian and absolute republics of fear that ruled the countries in the name of the leading party and the absolute leader. These dictatorial regimes have never recognized the constitution, elections or parliament except for the last decades (Stavestrand, 2013).
Monarchy vs Republican Stability Paradigm
On the contrary, the monarchy regimes rely on a constitutional and institutional heritage represented in old and permanent constitutions and parliaments with Bourgeoisie political elites that are educated and aware. Under such regimes, the power is peacefully circulated through elections, while the Monarch shall be non-responsible and have all religious and ethnic diversities in the societies of such countries. Accordingly, the peoples of such countries have peaceful and democratic mechanisms for reform; including the right to protest and exercise pressures on the government calling for cabinet reshuffle. These peoples do not need to overthrow such regimes leading to a constitutional vacuum that cannot serve their countries’ interests and leads to a great chaos and anarchy.
Republican regimes Disappointing the youth generation :
The third reason lies in the fact that the Arab youths who lived under the republican regimes suffering their oppression and tyranny have hated and fed up with such regimes. On the contrary, such youths and their counterparts that lived under the monarchy regimes tend to the monarchy ones and watch and observe their stability, openness and democracy, not only within the Arab world, but also all over the world. These youths have found that everything is good with these monarchy regimes compared to what they have felt and found under the totalitarian militarized republics of fear and agony. As for the generations that lived under the monarchy and republican regimes in some Arab countries, they have realized for a long period the big difference between the days of Monarchs and princes in comparison with the rule of military who proved to be amateurs and youngsters in terms of politics (Sean, April 2012).
The fourth reason is represented in the fact that the Arab societies are mostly parental thus the monarchy regimes are more consistent with their social nature. Under the monarchy regime, there is the Monarch, who is the comprehensive symbol for all people. The republican regimes are, unlike, unfamiliar with the Arab societies and have not proven their success up to date; whatever their supporters introduce any justification that cannot convince even an infant. The unfamiliarity is attributed to the fact the president, in the republican regime, is usually unknown and unqualified amateur of politics. Such a president comes to the power through a military coup or a party and when he/she rise to the power, the same changes into a dictator and seeks to stay in power for life in spite of the fact that such a president does not come to power through the satisfaction and consent of people.
Monarchies in the ME and Reform :
The last reason lies in the fact that the possibility of reform and change that is available for the Arab Monarchy regimes are absent inside their republican counterparts. The mechanisms of power and constitutional establishments by which the monarch regimes enjoy allow the people to express opinion and thus criticizing corruption and wrong actions and calling for bringing about the change without being subject to punishment. Moreover, the nature of the democratic regime and power rotation between the parties creates a state of competition for the interest of citizen hoping that these parties be reelected. Under the republican regimes, nevertheless, the criticizing and calling for change are regarded as prohibited, treason and assault against the sacred leader and his/her absolute leading party. Hence, there are no elections to overthrow such leaders and in case there are any elections, they are reelected by 99% and thus, they are not obliged to make reforms and offer service to the citizen, as they do not fear of the latter who has no mechanism for expression and change (Halpern, 1993).
The generation of spring revolutions in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya, who rushed inattentively, without awareness or thinking, after the military machine and their totalitarian revolutionary parties, have come now to realize how awful are the impacts and effects of the catastrophe and the disgusting crime they have committed fifty years earlier against themselves, their sons and grandsons generation after a generation as they have opened their eyes to find themselves under dictatorial totalitarian republics of fear, especially as they have found out that the monarchy regimes that were called “the Vanishing Ones” are still alive, vital and dominating, while their revolutionary publics encouraged, promoted and propagated by their leaders and parties have vanished and come to end.
In fact, the remarkable governmental and constitutional reforms recently carried out by some Monarchs, like Abdullah II; the reigning king of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and Mohammed the VI, the present King of Morocco, including cabinet reshuffle and making essential constitutional amendments, place confirmation on the fact that the Arab monarchy regimes are more stable and persistent compared to their republican counterparts that collapsed in the wave of the first challenge as a result of the domino effect of the arising Arab Spring revolutions.
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02/Gause, G. (2013) Kings for all Seasons, How the Middle East monarchies survived and persisted the Arab Spring Revolutions.
Brookings Center Number 8, September 2013
03/Kurzman C., (2004) The Islamic Revolution in Iran
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04/Linz, J. (2000) Totalitarian vs Authoritarian Regimes
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05/Sean, L. (April 2012), Understanding the Monarchial Resilience During the Arab Spring revolutions.
06/Stavestrand, E. (2013) Freedom and Stability in Contemporary Monarchies, Testing the Theory of Monarchical Exceptionalism.
Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen – Spring 2013
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