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Consistent pattern or coincidence?

Reader comment on item: Four Middle Eastern Upheavals

Submitted by Chester Anthony (Turkey), Apr 2, 2011 at 09:26

One thing has occurred to me about the "Arab Spring" upheavals lately, and that is that the massive protests and/or insurrection in the 4 countries cited in the article have been aimed largely at the ouster of the respective leaders, and yet in each case (plus Syria) the form of government is some form of republic. At the same time, reasonably large popular protests have also occurred in monarchies in the region, such as Morocco and Jordan, but these have stopped short of calling for the actual overthrow of the sovereign, demanding fundamental reforms of the existing system instead. This is despite the fact that monarchies in the Arab world tolerate or even actively approve of appalling human rights abuses, sharia law and general features of society that the West would label medieval (US ally Saudi Arabia being the biggest offender).

Does this trend say something meaningful about Arab societies? Is a reformed monarchy the best model for ensuring stability and accord, and could the monarchies themselves be the best models for effecting a fundamental reform of Islam? The only systems that the republics - whether secular or formally Islamic - have managed to produce are despotic or totalitarian, with little or no meaningful progress visible in the areas of civil and human rights. By contrast, Qatar appears to have made incremental headway toward reform, and even the absolute monarchy of Oman seems to be able to point to some modicum of equality for women in professions and public life. Perhaps more to the point, is the idea of Egypt and Libya becoming kingdoms again only a pipe dream (no pun intended)?

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