From time to time, the U.S. government has found itself protecting the interests of Middle Eastern monarchs—most notably in 1990-91, when it rescued Kuwait from Iraq's clutches. This is invariably a controversial step: President Bush had to contend with the charge that he was risking U.S. lives to reinstate feudal privileges and a dynastic monopoly of power. There are other problems, too; U.S. troop deployments in Saudi Arabia, for example, are today the target of vociferous indigenous criticism (Usama bin Ladin comes first to mind).
Given the profound differences between the political systems of the region's monarchies and that of the United States, the question arises: is Washington betraying its interests and its principles when it supports Middle Eastern kings? In view of continued U.S. interests in the region and the fact that the monarchies are experiencing political change, the answer is "no." American policy in support of its allies in Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Oman is an investment in Middle East stability and security, important prerequisites for the development of democratic practices.
The New Generation
We start with a survey of the current situation and future prospects of the region's eight monarchies, looking first at those whose rulers belong to the new generation and then at those who rulers belong to the older one.
Qatar. A country often ignored in regional strategic considerations owing to its small size and proximity to Saudi Arabia in both political temperament and adherence to the Wahhabi tradition of Islamic practice, Qatar had long been relied on to toe the Saudi line. In June 1995, however, the status quo was upset when (against accepted norms) Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa ath-Thani, now fifty, overthrew his politically uninvolved father in a palace coup. It was a means of regime rejuvenation not witnessed in nearly a quarter century and one no monarchy in the Gulf wished revived.1
Then, upon securing power, rather than allay the fears of his Gulf Arab partners, Sheikh Hamad announced his intention to embark on a wide-ranging series of political and social reforms, including direct elections and women's suffrage. Repudiating the bread-and-butter technique of distribution favored in the Gulf, he pledged to place his dynasty's rule on more democratic foundations. Defying the Arab League on everything from the establishment of an Israeli commercial presence in Doha to the hosting of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) economic summit in November 1997, Sheikh Hamad dragged his country doggedly into the geopolitical realities of the present. He cemented his maverick reputation in March 1999 by holding the first nationwide elections in the country's history, then announcing, four months after the elections, the creation of a committee to draw up a permanent constitution leading to parliamentary elections, and giving the committee no more than three years to complete its task.
In gauging that the time had come for his country to explore pluralism, Sheikh Hamad signaled a recognition of both the importance of popular support in underpinning monarchy and the lack of contradiction in using democracy as a method of sustaining Qatar's prevailing political system. His almost revolutionary boldness made Qatar the dean of monarchic reformist tendencies. As a result, this tiny state has exerted an influence on political developments in the region incommensurate to its size. What has already been achieved is impressive and might have a region-wide impact.
Bahrain. Sheikh Hamad bin `Isa al-Khalifa succeeded to the throne of neighboring Bahrain on March 6, 1999. By the close of his first year on the throne, the fifty-year-old Sheikh Hamad had pledged to revive elections for municipal councils, a practice dormant for twenty-five years. Tentatively scheduled for 2001, these elections will feature, in Sheikh Hamad's words, "women casting their votes beside the men."2 The restoration of municipal electoral privileges may not appear noteworthy, but, in the context of broader regional changes, it definitely is. Having waited in the wings as demands for political reform disturbed the tiny island in the mid-1990s, Sheikh Hamad is sending the critical message that the people's voices have been heard, by declaring his intention "to engage in serious and fruitful work to revive Bahrain so that it can once again catch up with the fast developments taking place in our contemporary world."3 These words amounted to an admission that policies pursued by his predecessor, though successful in preserving stability in the monarchic practice of power in Bahrain, lacked the element recognized by its new leader as critical for its continued legitimacy—popular consultation and consensus. Sheikh Hamad's pledge to revive the democratic experiment in Bahrain underscores an awareness of the popular basis of monarchic authority.4 This is particularly significant in Bahrain, which is unique among the Middle East's monarchies in that a Sunni Muslim elite rules over a Shi‘a majority. Needing to reflect the desires and expectations of the populace as a whole, monarchy does not survive solely on the support of kinship groups or the tactical use of coercion. Shiekh Hamad stressed in the summer of 2000 that he "will always see what the wishes of the people are.... As a leader, I will follow a course acceptable to the people."5
Jordan. The father of Jordan's thirty-eight-year-old ‘Abdullah II (like the father of Muhammad VI of Morocco) relied on a precarious balance of coercion and the prestige of descent from the Prophet Muhammad to maintain stability. ‘Abdullah (like Muhammad) recognizes that this mix is no longer sufficient, in part due to the expectations that accompanied his succession. Forced to find new ways in which to ensure the stability of his kingdom, this Western-trained king has pledged to respect "the principles of democracy, freedom of expression, political pluralism, free economic enterprise, and human dignity."6 These sentiments were echoed by a court official commenting on the fact that ‘Abdullah is building a cadre of professionals to support his vision. "He is surrounding himself with younger people... he knows where the future lies... he is the King of the Internet age and the King of Information Technology."7 Expectations are running high for ‘Abdullah. According to former prime minister Fayiz Tarawna, he "is preparing the ground for revolutionary change on all fronts... he means business and he is determined to go all the way."8
As for movement toward reform: in late 1999, a 20-member economic consultative council was established, comprising 6 senior government officials and 14 young, private-sector figures. The council was commissioned to draft a blueprint for important legislative reforms in the economic, educational, and bureaucratic fields. A palace insider stated that, "at the end of the day, [the king's] policies will benefit the majority who are for the rule of law, for solidifying democracy, for safeguarding human rights, for applying justice on an equal basis, and for ending corruption, nepotism, and a system of perks and privileges that [has] become routine."9
Morocco. Morocco's thirty-seven-year-old monarch, Muhammad VI, similarly pledged to uphold "constitutional monarchy, the multiparty system, economic liberalism... the rule of law, the protection of human rights and individual and collective freedoms."10 He then followed up on his pledge by dismissing the much-despised and feared Interior Minister Driss Basri and many of his lieutenants. He reiterated the message of change by inviting the families of well-known political foes to return from exile and in May 2000 had the prominent Islamic leader Sheikh ‘Abd as-Salam Yasin released after eleven years under house arrest. According to Muhammad, "It is now time for authority to serve the people and not for the people to serve the authority."11
That the young monarchs in Jordan and Morocco expressed similar commitments to democratic practices and free-market economics is not surprising. Both kings are attempting to meet the needs of the present, and so to transcend the rivalries and conflicts of the past. According to ‘Abdullah, his generation of leaders is "much closer to the transformation that the world is going through because the new generation and the new culture is the global economy."12
While the situations in these four states are markedly different in many ways —oil resources, historical experience, and the depth of past miscalculations—they share in common a young leadership not afraid to contemplate change. Whether manifested in the advancement of women, the establishment of elected institutions, or changes of personnel, these cases exhibit one of the greatest strengths of monarchy, namely its great elasticity of action. Having earned popular allegiance through respecting time-honored aspects of indigenous traditions and preserving stability in difficult times, monarchy enjoys a level of latitude to alter course that is absent in the region's "revolutionary" (i.e., republican) states.
The Old Guard
Kuwait. In the debate over the future role of democracy, the State of Kuwait is at the vanguard of the old order, due to a history of vibrant parliamentary life. Proving that generational change is not the only engine of inspired leadership, a 1999 decree by seventy-one-year-old ruler Sheikh Jabir al-Ahmad as-Sabah sought to extend political rights to Kuwaiti women. It was a bold move—and another example of the monarchic capacity for changing with the times. Although defeated in a parliamentary vote (a noteworthy event in and of itself in a region normally regarded as void of democratic practices), the action revived the flagging prestige of the Sabah dynasty at a time of increasing concern over the direction of the country and the ability of the ruling family to provide enlightened leadership. The emiri decree may not have entirely dealt with these concerns, but it certainly bolstered the stature of the Sabah dynasty as the supreme arbiter and guardian of national interests, at least among many women. In time, most Kuwaitis believe, the emiri wish will eventually be ratified and women in Kuwait, like their counterparts in Qatar, will exercise the right to vote.
Oman. Oman offers a classic example of the elasticity of monarchic rule and its evolutionary capacity. Establishing his rule on the total repudiation of his father's policy of isolation, sixty-year-old Sultan Qabus bin Sa`id Al-Bu Sa`id has guided his country smoothly into the modern era in calculated steps geared to cause the least disruption. In 1995, he admitted the importance of a balance between "the acceptance of modernity and the retention of old established values."13 This was based not on reasons of regime legitimacy but on a real appreciation of the fragility of the social fabric in his country.
The gradual development of representative institutions is an important aspect of the sultan's plan for his country. Oman currently has two houses of parliament, an indirectly elected lower house established in 1991 and an appointed upper house created in 1997. While the maturation of these institutions has not yet reached the level of Kuwait in that the sultan's subjects do not enjoy veto power over his will, Oman's is a relatively young experiment.Notably, this experiment has not occurred at the expense of Oman's substantial female population. In elections in 1997, two women secured seats in the lower house, the 83-member Consultative Council.14 In the upper house, the 40-member State Council, four women held seats in late 2000. Elections to the Consultative Council take place in regional electoral colleges in the fifty-nine wilayat s across the country. The colleges are comprised of prominent local personalities from the government, tribal, religious, and professional fields. Prior to 2000, the colleges offered to the Ministry of the Interior either two or four candidates, depending on the size of the district. The ministry would then decide from the candidates who would take office. In 2000, the system was refined whereby the decisions of the electoral colleges would become final. Enfranchisement was also increased in 2000, bringing the number of eligible voters to approximately 175,000, the largest electorate amongst the Arab Gulf states with elected institutions. Despite the strictly advisory role played by the Omani parliament and the less-than-universal nature of the electoral system itself, a calculated process of political development appears to be at work.As Sultan Qabus stated in 1997, "We're making progress but quietly. Slowly. I believe in evolution and not sudden evolution. But the progress we've made is irreversible."15
Saudi Arabia. Caution is the byword of the Al Saud. Ruling over Saudi Arabia in brotherly succession since the death in 1953 of the state's founder, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, the Al Saud has long kept a close rein on the decision-making apparatus. It did, however, take an important step toward opening the inner circle in 1993, with the establishment of the Consultative Council, a 60-member assembly (boosted to eighty in 1997) of representatives chosen from among the kingdom's academic, political, diplomatic, business, religious, and regional elite. In the words of the septuagenarian King Fahd, the mission of the council is "to contribute to the development of the kingdom and its growth, taking into consideration the public interest."16 Though wrapped in Islamic terms of shura (consultation) acceptable to the powerful religious establishment, the council is nonetheless an answer, albeit partial, to popular demands (made during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990–91) to implement democratic reforms.
In addition to the issue of pluralism, there has been another matter in need of redress in Saudi society: the status of women. With developments in Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain signaling a change in the prospects for women across the Gulf, it is perhaps not surprising that Saudi leaders have had to re-examine this issue. Indeed, in 1999, Crown Prince ‘Abdullah stated his belief in the positive role played by women in the country's development, thereby opening a window on a long-needed debate in Saudi society. In October 1999, announcing the decision to allow women to attend sessions of the Consultative Council, the council's chairman stated, "society and the Consultative Council must benefit from the qualifications and experiences of women."17 The same day, a brother of the king made the prediction that Saudi "women will gain rights within a few years."18 The following month, the granting of identity cards was made official. "Women, just like men, have their rights in all areas... and they have the right to carry their own identity cards and to enjoy their legitimate rights," declared Deputy Interior Minister Prince Ahmad.19 In early 2000, Saudi women took possession of their first identity cards. These developments may seem trivial, but they are not; for Saudi women, they represent an initial area of independence from the strictures of male-domination, potentially opening the door for a greater role in the country's future.
United Arab Emirates. To date, movement in the United Arab Emirates toward popular participation in decision-making has been similar to that in Saudi Arabia. With no elected institutions in the seven-member federation, political debate is confined primarily to the ruling family councils in each emirate and the Federal Supreme Council on which are represented the country's seven ruling families. As long as the two larger and wealthier emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, are concerned that greater power-sharing would threaten their dominant positions within the federation and make new demands on them economically, it is not likely that the UAE will undertake significant political reforms. For the moment, the emirates seem to be more consumed with infrastructure development and economic diversification. The result is that, if Kuwait and Qatar eventually prove to be models for UAE political development, the opposite is already the case in the economic sphere: the emirates are leading the Gulf Arabs in the race to build a viable economic basis for the day when the bottom falls out of the oil industry. The decade-old policies of such commercial dynamos as Dubai and its smaller UAE colleagues have inspired current attempts elsewhere in other Gulf Arab states to attract foreign investment by liberalizing investment regimes and establishing free trade zones with sophisticated communications and transportation facilities.
The Old Guard is thereby proving that acceptance of change is not exclusively an attribute of the younger generation. It may be occurring more slowly in the cases of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but this results as much from specific local considerations as from limitations of the monarchic institutions themselves.
Most of the Arab Middle East's republican, or presidential, systems (Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen) emerged in the post-World War II period from the rubble of failed traditional leadership and colonial aggrandizement; today, they are somewhat less secure than their monarchic counterparts. Having staked their prestige on the overthrow of old regimes and the pursuit of socialist formulas for societal advancement, the majority of republican states now find themselves in dire economic and political circumstances, just as many former communist countries in Eastern Europe did in the early 1990s. With the refusal to accept the bankruptcy of their ideological or revolutionary underpinnings, along with a vulnerability to the charges offered by their Islamist adversaries, the governments of these countries now pose a significant risk to regional stability. In general, the republican model has failed not only in delivering upon its promises of prosperity but also in supplanting monarchy as a viable political institution. Iraq suffers most acutely from this problem, but it is common to many of them.
Viewing tradition, whether in the observation of religion or in the fabric of social interaction, as one of its greatest adversaries in the drive to create the progressive, modern state, the republican regimes succeeded in destroying the one element which monarchic rule has found to be its most consistent and reliable ally. Having dismantled the structures upon which the old order sustained itself, the republican regimes latterly find themselves without a lifeline to offer their people in a period marked by the gradual repudiation of a half century of conflict with the State of Israel and by economic malaise caused by the centralized command policies of the state. Lifelines once existed in the form of traditional allegiances and familial relationships based around local mosques and their attendant schools, courts, and charities. These combined to form the bedrock for the community, especially during hard times and periodic breakdowns of the central order. The total-allegiance-demanding state, with its institutional and associational mechanisms, destroyed the important societal lifelines, replacing them with promises of progress and restoration of national pride intended to capture the spirit of the people for the service of the state.
The republican state's monopoly of the public arena left a void, into which have slipped elements seeking redress for society's ills through Islamic norms. Having stripped society of its natural support mechanisms, the Middle East's republican leadership has only itself to blame for the appeal of these extremists to a disenfranchised citizenry with only a weak loyalty to the state. This threat has also manifested itself in the region's monarchies, but the republics (especially Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria) have suffered more; with the dismantling of traditional lifelines, society's capacity to absorb the shocks of failed economic and social policies has been all but destroyed. Though the rise of political Islam affords republican leadership an excuse to justify continued oppressive policies (as a means to confront the Islamist threat), this will probably turn out to be an only temporary fix, as the demands and very real need for reform will eventually prove too great to resist.
The Syrian succession after the death of Hafiz al-Asad in June 2000 provides an ironic commentary on this point: eighty years after losing its short-lived Hashemite monarchy to French conquest, Syria returned to the monarchic model on the demise of the elder Asad. Nor is this all, for other dynastic successions are rumored to be under consideration in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Iraq. But this form of inherited rule bears none of the hallmarks that give monarchy in the Arab world its strength and legitimacy. Premised on the need to preserve the regime, rather than social cohesion, a dynastic dictatorship only increases the divide between leader and subject. For would-be followers of the Syrian example, the lesson of Pahlavi Iran should offer a sober warning.
Reasons for Monarchic Survival
The Middle East's monarchies went through a rough patch, especially during the Nasser era (1952-70), but those that survived are now enjoying a period of generational change and institutional renewal. Having withstood half a century of struggle against radical ideologies, the Arab world's monarchs can today look with satisfaction on the fact that not one of their number has succumbed to revolution since the overthrow of Libya's King Idris in 1969.20 This gives the Middle East a higher proportion of monarchies than any other region of the world. Why is that the case? Analysts have offered several theories for the unusual endurance of Middle East monarchies, none fully adequate.
The theory of the rentier state holds that the survival of monarchy depends on rewards and coercion made possible by oil revenues. Thus, Sultan Qabus of Oman could suppress Marxist-backed rebels in Dhofar in the early 1970s because he had the means, thanks to petroleum sales. But this theory cannot explain the success of Hasan II of Morocco or Husayn of Jordan, both monarchs of oil-less and not wealthy kingdoms, in surviving similar regime crises during the same period. (Hasan survived coup attempts in 1971 and 1972, and Husayn expelled the Palestinian Liberation Organization from Jordan in "Black September," 1970.) Nor for that matter does the theory lend a proper understanding to the situation in Iran, where the shah fell despite the benefits accrued from oil.
The theory based on size of population is also insufficient. The entire populations of the Persian Gulf emirates of Bahrain and Qatar might well fit into a two-square-mile block of (republican) Cairo. But the Kingdom of Morocco is rapidly approaching the combined size of two powerhouses of the republican model, Syria and Iraq. As with the rentier concept, population may provide part of the answer but not all of it.
The same holds for explanations based on the tribal-urban differences between monarchies and republics. Saudi Arabia and Jordan are often given as examples of the important role of the tribe in underpinning monarchy in the Middle East, for in both of them the dynasty has roots in tribal alliances and relies heavily on tribal support in the security services and armed forces. This said, the tribe in monarchies has often posed a source of weakness. In Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Oman, for instance, rulers have often found themselves susceptible to tribal pressures and influence. And disturbances in recent years among Jordan's southern tribes have demonstrated that a community once regarded as a bedrock of monarchy cannot be taken for granted.
Legitimacy may serve as a better explanation for the endurance of the monarchies. Their vitality stems from having preserved a link to valued traditions and mores of a rapidly receding past while withstanding the vagaries of political and social change. For many, monarchy has come to symbolize stability after a century of traumatic events that included the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the imposition of European control, the tribulations of independence, the emergence of Israel, and the rise of radical Islamism. In the monarchies, those constants based on family, local identity, and shared religious and cultural experience that traditionally have formed the basis of civil life in Middle Eastern society have, to a large extent, been preserved and a consensus reached on their benefit to society. In turn, monarchy has helped sustain and balance the social adhesives of religion, tradition, and heritage, giving it a legitimacy not enjoyed by the leadership of the republican regimes. Not having staked their legitimacy on the rhetoric of revolution and ill-conceived economic policy, but rather on stability and social cohesion, they are in the enviable position of being able to contemplate reform without fear of evisceration or abolition.
In all the monarchic states, a debate on difficult issues is occurring; movement, however incremental, is taking place. This is proof of the capacity of the monarchic system to change and an indication of the monarchies' confidence and their ability to see how their own interests are interwoven with those of the state. The debate over democracy is occurring to some degree in every Middle Eastern monarchy; where this debate will eventually lead remains uncertain. Will institutional checks preserve the present level of royal prerogatives? The late Hasan II once stated that "in Morocco, the king governs; the people would not understand if he did not."21 Is this a view shared by his son? Or will the debate lead to the Europeanization of Middle Eastern royalty, as some observers of Morocco have prematurely speculated? It is still far too early to say. As the arena for democratic debate expands, it is likely that royal families will find their freedom to maneuver gradually restricted by the presence of a newly enfranchised citizenry. This, however, does not necessarily imply the imminent demise of monarchy in the Middle East or a period of instability. On the contrary, the evolution of democracy should present a further opportunity for monarchy to demonstrate the inherent strengths that have sustained the institution's relevance and vitality. For U.S. interests, this should be an augur of stable times ahead.
Implications for the United States
Although monarchies have long been America's most consistent allies in the Middle East, U.S. policymakers have fretted for an equally long time over the perceived lack of pluralism in these dynastic states. In part, American leadership has worried about the loss of these important allies and their replacement by hostile successor regimes; in part, policymakers have found it difficult explaining to a skeptical American public why, beyond oil or some other utilitarian reason, monarchies deserve U.S. support, including even the deployment of American troops.
Fortunately for the policymakers, things are changing. On the first point, having weathered the challenges of the past century, Middle Eastern monarchies have emerged in recent years in a strengthened position; they are not about to fall prey to radical republicans; if anything, as the Syrian case suggests, they are providing a model for political emulation. On the second point, political change is now occurring in the monarchies; indeed, whether it be the remarkably candid programming of Qatar's Al Jazeera satellite television network or the brave stance of Bahrain's new emir concerning the emergence of women and minorities into the political arena, the monarchs are now leading the way toward political enfranchisement.
If anything, U.S. policymakers need to be cautious about their response to the positive developments currently underway in the region. More broadly, if Washington sincerely wants a further expansion of popular debate in the Middle East, it must craft a subtle and consistent policy without bias against those states that opt for a gradual approach (Saudi Arabia) or that stumble along the way (Kuwait). Reproach should be saved for those states that make no headway at all. It should also assist those who seek help in developing their democratic practices.
That monarchies have sustained stability during a traumatic time in world affairs is evidence that they have gotten something right. In this and in other ways, the region's monarchies have long served U.S. interests. It is only fitting that Washington now respect current attempts at reform and offer assistance where sought.
Democratization in the monarchies will be neither smooth nor uniform, and there is much work yet to be done. Every country, with the possible exception of the UAE, suffers from misguided economic development policies that favor privileged interests. There are also plenty of unresolved political issues that challenge the process of democratization, such as Palestinian refugees in Jordan, the Moroccan conflict in the Western Sahara, Shi‘i discontent in Bahrain, and the presence of "stateless" in Kuwait. The United States can make its vast democratic experience available to those undergoing the process to help ease the transition. The esteem with which the peoples of the Middle East view the U.S. democratic system means there should be a ready audience for American technical expertise and assistance. Timing and approach need to be carefully calibrated, however, for suspicions about U.S. intentions are not uncommon; in particular, it is important that local actors lead any processes of political reform.
The region's monarchies are in a better position than the republics to contemplate the changes now required. That these changes may necessitate the curtailing of royal privileges and open the door to greater pluralism could strengthen monarchy as a viable political institution.
In contrast, the monarchs' republican colleagues face daunting internal economic, political, and philosophical challenges that they are not showing themselves particularly adept at handling. For U.S. policymakers, the republics pose somewhat of a challenge. However, with the example being set by the monarchies, the United States could do worse than pressure the republican states to reform—and to emulate the processes of democratization tentatively occurring elsewhere in the region.
Owen H. Kirby is a program officer for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Republican Institute in Washington, DC.1
In Oman, Qabus sent his father Sa`id bin Taymur packing in 1970. In Qatar, Hamad Bin Khalifa ath-Thani's father, Khalifa Bin Hamad, deposed his first cousin Ahmad bin Ali in 1972.2 The Gulf Daily News
, Dec. 16, 1999.3 The Gulf Daily News
, Dec. 16, 1999.4
In addition to municipal elections, the government announced in 2000 that the Shura (Consultative) Council, established in 1992, would be elected by popular vote within five years and that suffrage would be universal. A first step in that direction was taken in September 2000 with the appointment of four women to the formerly all-male council. The women were among a group of new appointees to the 40-member advisory body that included representatives of Bahrain's Christian, Indian, and—unique among countries of the Arabian Peninsula—Jewish communities.5
Reuters, Aug. 2, 2000.6 The Jordan Times
(Amman), Jun. 10, 1999.7 The Jordan Times
, Feb. 7, 2000.8 The Jordan Times
, Dec. 22, 1999.9 The Jordan Times
, Dec. 22, 1999.10
Moroccan Press Agency, July 30, 1999.11 Time,
June 20, 2000.12 The Jordan Times
, Feb. 2, 2000.13
Interview with Sultan Qabus Bin Sa‘id Al-Bu Sa‘id, Middle East Policy
, Apr. 1995, p. 1.14
In elections for the Consultative Council in September 2000, Omani women retained two seats.15
Judith Miller, "Creating Modern Oman: An Interview with Sultan Qabus," Foreign Affairs
, May/June 1997, p. 18.16 Al-Riyadh
(Riyadh), July 7, 1997.17 Al-Hayat
(London), Oct. 4, 1999.18
Reuters, Interview with Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, Oct. 4, 1999.19 Arab News
(Riyadh), Nov. 24, 1999.20
Though Iran's house of Pahlavi survived Libya's monarchy by a decade before itself falling, several factors combine to exclude it from the present review. The vitality of Arab monarchy today has as much to do with its having sustained important traditional elements of local society as its having weathered the destructive storm of pan-Arabism, neither of which Pahlavi Iran could claim as accomplishments. In the first instance, the Pahlavis, both father Reza and son Muhammad, were secular modernizers more in the mode of Kemal Atäturk, demonstrating contempt for the traditions observed by the majority of Iranians. Given the dictatorial tendencies of its rulers and its relative immunity and geographic isolation from the conflicts that plagued the Arab world during this period, Pahlavi Iran offers a unique case for study.21
Hassan II, (King's own memoirs), Le defi
(Paris: Albin Michel, 1976), p. 154.
Related Topics: Democracy and Islam, Middle East politics | December 2000 MEQ
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