In Arab Monarchies, Absolute Rule May Be Dwindling

The world’s last remaining absolute monarchies are facing calls for reform.

The Arab world’s eight monarchies are among the last remaining absolute monarchies on Earth. In some ways, they have proved surprisingly durable. Compared to Arab republics, Jordan, Morocco and the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait) escaped the Arab Spring uprisings relatively unfazed. But some of the Arab kingdoms are also facing new challenges that threaten to end decades of monarchial rule. The Role of Affluence In 2010, Tunisian street vendor Mohamad Bouazizi set himself on fire after a police officer assaulted him for parking his produce cart in an unauthorized spot. This event was the catalyst for the Arab Spring protests that spread through large parts of the Middle East. Despite the fact that the protesters were demanding democratic reforms, the spark for the movement was actually the region’s dire economic conditions. In Tunisia and Egypt, organized labor unions spearheaded the demonstrations and mobilized the public. In Syria, the uprising broke out in the southwest, a bastion of support for the Assad regime where the deteriorating economy reduced state welfare spending and alienated the population. (click to enlarge) However, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries managed to weather […]

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Hilal Khashan
Hilal Khashan is a Professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. He is a respected author and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. He is the author of six books, including Hizbullah: A Mission to Nowhere. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019.) He is currently writing a book titled Saudi Arabia: The Dilemma of Political Reform and the Illusion of Economic Development. He is also the author of more than 110 articles that appeared in journals such as Orbis, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, Third World Quarterly, Israel Affairs, Journal of Religion and Society, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.