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The Arab monarchies have fared far better in surviving the turmoil in the Middle East compared to their republican counterparts for several reasons. First, the institution of monarchy remains deeply linked to national identity in many of these countries due to either anti-colonial struggle or the historical importance of the institution itself. Second, monarchies have traditionally arbitrated conflicts between different groups and classes, acting as benevolent caretakers of society. As a result, they have also elevated themselves above the political fray by allowing other institutions to represent citizens, such as parliaments and parties. Though these factors have earned Arab monarchs a brief respite from the contentious wave that swept away regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and possibly Yemen, they will not enjoy eternal legitimacy. Popular demands for political reform are growing. Nonetheless, the monarchies have chosen a strategy of waitingwith what a multitude of resources at their disposal—some economic, some cultural, some political. In the Gulf, enormous oil revenues have permitted monarchies to initiate new welfare and development programs to deflectpublic pressure. Geopolitics matter too: it has become clear thatSaudi Arabia will not permit the crisis in Bahrain to truly threaten the existence of its monarchy. Likewise, at the international level, the United States and European Union have little desire to encourage any more instability in this economically vital area. Finally, the issue of monarchical survival has become inextricably entangled with the dynamics of Sunni-Shi‘a sectarian tension, which pits Iran against the Arab Gulf kingdoms. This discourse has grown hegemonic: not just the monarchies but also oppositionists have internalized these fears, blunting the demand for political reform. Meanwhile, Morocco and Jordan—the two oil-poor monarchies—are trying to satisfy their publics by liberalizing instead of democratizing. Lacking oil wealth, they have turned to controlled political openings cloaked in the language of freedombut which perpetuate the status quo. Limited constitutional reforms, toleration of more opposition, and new parliamentary elections are welcome steps, but such measures do not devolve power away from the palace. Such policies cannot indefinitelyquiet the restive middle classes, who are no longer satisfied with constrained pluralism and instead demand genuine participation. What they desire is not revolution but rather reformation towards constitutional monarchy, a new system of governancethat embodies the spirit of democracy while retaining the historical role of monarchism in these societies. Having settled on this delaying strategy, the monarchies of Morocco and Jordan are running out of time. Their citizens are growing increasingly impatient with empty promises. A momentous opportunity was lost in 1999, when both kingdoms underwent dynastic succession. Today these regimes’ rulingcoalitions, which include political elites and business allies whoenrich themselves from autocratic order, have become sclerotic, and ferociously resist the possibility of future reform. The Arab Spring permanently changed the landscape of contentious politics in the region. Everyday citizens have found their voice to articulate their interests and demand more from their leaders; the spell of fear has been broken. Those under monarchical rule will not watch idly as their brethren in transitional states like Tunisia and Egypt transform themselves from subjects to citizens. The path to change may be uneven, and sometimes even chaotic, but it has begun.

By Moulay Hicham - Un-edited version of New York Times article - 28th of August 2012
<p>The Arab monarchies have fared far better in surviving the turmoil in the Middle East compared to their republican counterparts for several reasons. The unedited version of Moulay Hicham Op-ed in the New York Times.</p>
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