Three years ago, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz issued reformative decrees which covered many aspects of the state, from the judiciary to education. Today, some seem to have forgotten this. After a short period, the King also added economic decrees and a body to fight corruption, and a few days ago he told the Saudis: I am your servant.
A few days ago the King of Jordan announced that the parliamentary majority would form the government in his country, and the King of Morocco presented his people with a new constitution, addressing them by saying “your service is my priority”. Meanwhile, Colonel Gaddafi calls his people rats and murders them, while defenders of the Assad regime describe the protestors as “scum”. So, do we see a difference between our monarchies and republics?
Republics have always justified part of their legitimacy by fighting what they call “regressive regimes” like monarchies, but what we see today is that those republics are the ones killing their people to cling onto power, and they are the ones devoted to backwardness. This is what is happening today in Syria at the hands of the Assad regime, in Yemen at the hands of Saleh’s regime, and likewise in Libya courtesy of Gaddafi. As my colleague noted: “The monarchy is not the hallmark of regression, but rather it is the individual authoritarianism inherent in our republics”. Our monarchies today are a source of stability and progress, and it is suffice to consider the difference between Gaddafi’s Libya, for example, and the Sultanate of Oman. Despite the vast oil wealth Gaddafi could not build a modern state, whereas Sultan Qaboos, despite having relatively weak financial capabilities, was able to build a modern state, and respond to the demands of his people quickly.
Therefore, our monarchies are not synonymous with backwardness, as is the case with many of our republics. Indeed, the monarchies are the ones moving forward, and responding to the demands of their people. This is what happened the day before yesterday in Morocco, when the Moroccan monarch came out in response to the demands of the people, pledging to be a ruler, not a party, and pledging that the parliamentary majority will rule, and equality between men and women. He promised a modern Morocco, recognizing the Amazigh language, and pledged that his country would teach its indigenous languages to its sons and daughters. Hence here is the difference between a king who responds and develops, and presidents who are only keen on remaining in power. Here it is noteworthy to consider another example worthy of attention, namely the situation in Britain, which is one of the oldest monarchies but also the mother of democracies, just as the monarchy in Spain serves as a safeguard in a state which was torn by conflict not so long ago.
Thus in the Arab world, the monarchies are the stabilizing factor whilst the republics have become slave drivers, where the rulers stay in office longer than the oldest kings in the region, and transform their states into family businesses. Every president has his militia, thugs and financial institutions, and it is suffice here to consider the announcement in Syria of Rami Makhlouf
“resignation” from the business world. We have seen many of our republics turn security institutions into militias, and fortunately for the Egyptians of course, the army remained a respected institution by protecting the state and the people.
My intention here is not to say that monarchies are flawless and need no further political reform or development, whether in the Gulf, without exception, or in our region in general. Rather my intention here is to say that the Arab monarchies have proven to be conducive to progress, stability and reform, and have proven to be better and longer lasting than the fake republics.