Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

A lesson from the oldest monarchy | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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If you are keen on Arab public affairs and you happen to be in Britain during this period then you must surely be aware of the celebratory atmosphere that is present in the country regarding the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. In this case, the question that comes to mind is: why have some in our region taken to the streets to revolt, and in states that claim to be republics, whilst the citizens of one of the oldest democracies in the world celebrate their Queen’s sixtieth year on the throne?

The best answer to this can be seen in what British Foreign Secretary [William Hague] told Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview conducted by my colleague Mina al-Oraibi a few days ago. In response to the question “what is the message to the Arab world on the occasion of Britain’s Queen celebrating 60 years at the head of a democratic and stable Britain?”, William Hague answered “it is a great opportunity for the world to see what we are like in Britain, which is a marvelous mixture of history and modernity. The monarchy sums it up really and the reason it has been so successful and survived for so long is that it is adaptable, sensitive to public opinion and ready to change in many ways. In Britain we have this very pragmatic approach, we change our political system as times go on in an evolutionary way. And I think if there is a single thing, it is the strength of our institutions, we have institutions with long continuity, whether it is the monarchy or the BBC or Parliament or the Foreign Office, so many strong institutions which are respected and built up over time and not pulled apart or pulled down by one political movement or another. My recommendation for the new democracies in the world is build those strong institutions which are not swept away every time the government changes. That gives a real solidity and stability to society.”

A grand answer and a lesson for our region that continues to repeat its mistakes, for Hague summed up Britain’s continuity and stability in a simple manner, namely that this was due to the presence of a marvelous mixture of history and modernity, which includes the monarchy and its symbols, and which is open to evolution, not to mention the presence of strong institutions! If we compare this to the situation in our region following the so-called Arab Spring, we will see that the most stable states are monarchies or emirates, where there is no injustice, oppression or violations, rather the Arab monarchies are providing lessons in wisdom and flexibility, or what Hague described as a very pragmatic approach.

So here we see Saudi Arabia, and despite all the incitement against it over the past year, leading the stability of the region as a whole, not just domestically, but also in Yemen, as well as with regards to its stance on Iran, combatting terrorism, and even providing subsidies to some Arab Spring states. Saudi Arabia today also occupies the moral high-ground with regards to the tyrant al-Assad. There are other examples of this in the Gulf and amongst the Arab monarchies, and the most prominent such example is that of Morocco, where the wisdom of the king is also clear to see. For after the King of Morocco responded to the demands of his people last year, carrying out reforms that brought the opposition to power, we now see new demonstrations taking place against this new government, which has failed to fulfill its promises, rather than protests against the monarchy. This demonstrates the wisdom of the King of Morocco and the wisdom of monarchies in general.

Therefore, as I stated one year ago, monarchies are good and will survive, and the evidence for this is clear!