Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

But where are the republics? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The first reaction to the decision of the GCC summit in Riyadh to welcome the request of Jordanian kingdom to join the Council, and at the same time inviting the Kingdom of Morocco to join was to ask: is this an alliance of monarchies?

The answer; why not? There is nothing wrong with that. According to what an Arab official told me previously, “Arab monarchies enjoy legitimacy, and [in such systems] popular demands for reform do not affect the ruler or the regime”, but rather legislation, laws and so on. The pressing question here is: are our republics fundamentally republic? In Arab republics the presidents remain in power longer than kings and princes. Power is then bequeathed, even in state institutions, and not only at the top of the pyramid. It is suffice to consider the situation in Libya, and the role of Gaddafi’s sons.

The key factor today, with regards to the political earthquake that has struck the region as a whole, is that monarchies do not kill their people, but are in fact more flexible in accepting their demands, and more connected and closer to them. Similarly, monarchies did not bargain with their Arabism and did not use it as a commodity. But is this the entire story? Of course not.

Accepting the request of Jordan to join the GCC has great significance, and provides many benefits to all parties. Through Jordan’s accession, it means the spread of more stability to the country as a whole, and the first security steps to block the mere thought of the “alternative homeland”. Of course, some will say that Jordan is a state in confrontation with Israel, and this means that the entire Gulf is now also in confrontation. The repost to this is clear; Jordan today is a state with peaceful relations with Israel on the one hand, and on the other hand, the Gulf States have contributed to, and participated by all means in supporting the Arabs in their struggles and wars against Israel for six decades, and without being in direct confrontation. Therefore, Jordan’s accession, as well as Morocco’s should it decide to accept, mean that the Council will be a focal point consisting of prudent political entities, countering the threat of non-Arab regional forces against them, first and foremost Iran and its agents. This is a matter that all the Gulf countries have been exposed to, as well as Jordan and Morocco.

The entry of Jordan and Morocco into the GCC is not merely a superficial gesture as some say, but it disproves the argument that the GCC is an exclusive club for the rich. Politically speaking, the entry of the two monarchies Jordan and Morocco can be considered a message that the countries of the Council do not object to political reform, as Jordan and Morocco are constitutional monarchies. In addition to what is happening in GCC countries such as Kuwait, Bahrain, and elsewhere, it also means that the time for political reforms in all GCC countries has come, without exception.

Of course, the benefit that the GCC draws from Jordan, and Morocco if it joins, is that the political influence of this important bloc will be expanded in front of the international community. This may be the nucleus and catalyst for joint Arab action, based on new foundations. Of course, the public are still awaiting answers on many questions, and this is a task for Council members, but it is important here that everyone unites and works together, and this is certainly a good thing.