Please turn on javascript in your browser to play chess.
Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. 28 Apr '13 20:27 / 1 edit
    During a recent trip to Morocco, I accidentally found myself in a small town called Sefrou, surrounded by crowds of Moroccans who cheered wildly as a limousine drew up and out stepped... the King of Morocco. Earlier in the week, during a tour of the High Atlas, our guide had lavished praises on the King's role in preserving peace and stability in the country.

    Morocco, a monarchy, seems much more stable and much less troubled than its North African neighbours, Algeria, Libya and Egypt, even than post-Revolutionary Tunisia - all of which have presidential governments.

    At the other end of the Arab world, Oman, a monarchy, has had minimal protests during the Arab Spring; compare the turmoil in neighbouring Yemen, a presidential state.

    Jordan, a monarchy, has had some troubles and protests, but nevertheless has proved much more stable than republican Syria, now tragically wartorn, or even than divided Lebanon.

    Is this just a coincidence? Is it simply that these Kings are relatively benign figures compared to Assad, Murbarak (or Morsi), and other Arab presidents or prime ministers? Or is it possible that, within the Arab world, monarchs are perceived by (many of) their people to have a kind of legitimacy that is lacking in a republican system?
  2. 28 Apr '13 20:43
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    During a recent trip to Morocco, I accidentally found myself in a small town called Sefrou, surrounded by crowds of Moroccans who cheered wildly as a limousine drew up and out stepped... the King of Morocco. Earlier in the week, during a tour of the High Atlas, our guide had lavished praises on the King's role in preserving peace and stability in the count ...[text shortened]... by (many of) their people to have a kind of legitimacy that is lacking in a republican system?
    Not all Monarchy is benign.

    There are some states where if you step out of line
    you will be severely punished.

    These people are a ruling family and they will not tolerate any opposition.
  3. 28 Apr '13 21:00
    Originally posted by johnnylongwoody
    Not all Monarchy is benign.

    I didn't say it was.

    These people are a ruling family and they will not tolerate any opposition.

    So which ruling family (or families) are you talking about, precisely?
  4. 28 Apr '13 21:04 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    During a recent trip to Morocco, I accidentally found myself in a small town called Sefrou, surrounded by crowds of Moroccans who cheered wildly as a limousine drew up and out stepped... the King of Morocco. Earlier in the week, during a tour of the High Atlas, our guide had lavished praises on the King's role in preserving peace and stability in the count ...[text shortened]... by (many of) their people to have a kind of legitimacy that is lacking in a republican system?
    "...our guide had lavished praises on the King's role in preserving peace
    and stability in the country."
    --Teinosuke

    A tour guide who 'lavished praises' on his country's leader--how shocking!
    Did your tour guide mention anything about Morocco's record of human rights
    abuses in the Western Sahara, where many people have fought for independence?

    "Is it simply that these (Arab) Kings are relatively benign figures..."
    --Teinosuke

    For a long time, the UK preferred to deal with conservative Arab kings,
    whose regimes' survival might well depend upon continuing British patronage.
    Perceiving Arab kings as 'relatively benign figures' involves selective vision.
    (I lack the time and space to provide a complete list of Arab kings.)

    During the recent Arab Spring, Bahrain's King Hamad brutally crushed the many
    people who were protesting against his rule. Given that King Hamad's perceived
    as pro-Western and anti-Iranian, the USA and UK seemed to condone what he did.

    For an earlier example, Oman's Sultan Said bin Taimur was so reactionary
    (Reportedly, he banned his subjects from wearing eye-glasses because he
    suspected anyone who wore eye-glasses could be a 'dangerous intellectual'--
    Sultan Said felt safer ruling people who were as uneducated as possible.) that
    even his British military advisors, who were fighting against his domestic enemies,
    came to regard him as a despot and condoned his son's eventual coup d'etat.

    "...perceived by (many of) their people to have a kind of legitimacy..."
    --Teinosuke

    Again, selective vision seems required. How was the Hashemite dynasty, for
    instance, established in Iraq? The British appointed Faisal I as the King of Iraq
    (after a fraudulent plebiscite) because they wanted a (weak) client king who
    would largely depend upon continuing British support for his regime's survival.
  5. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    It's only business
    28 Apr '13 21:23
    Interestingly Assad and Gaddaffi are/were associated with rivals to the Arab world.
  6. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    28 Apr '13 21:52 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Duchess64

    Again, selective vision seems required. How was the Hashemite dynasty, for
    instance, established in Iraq? The British appointed Faisal I as the King of Iraq
    (after a fraudulent plebiscite) because they wanted a (weak) client king who
    would largely depend upon continuing British support for his regime's survival.
    For a long time, the UK preferred to deal with conservative Arab kings,
    whose regimes' survival might well depend upon continuing British patronage.
    Perceiving Arab kings as 'relatively benign figures' involves selective vision.
    (I lack the time and space to provide a complete list of Arab kings.)

    Is it not worth pointing out that the demise of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, with the conclusion of WW1, saw the allies (notably Britain, France and the USA) establish a whole series of entirely new kingdoms in nation states with arbitrary borders that also were newly carved from the lands of the empire, because in their wisdom they did not believe that the Ottoman peoples were ready for democracy. Many of those newly minted royals have continued to enjoy the gift of wealth and power at the expense of their populations with the protection of the western powers. Both before (in the Nineteenth Century) and after (throughout the Twentieth) the region has been a playground for the various European powers and the Americans too. Our governments were typically opposed to signs of democracy in the region and frankly still are.
  7. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    It's only business
    28 Apr '13 22:12 / 1 edit
    FACT Ottomans are Turks not Arabs. They are Altaics (Horse Archer types from north Asia someplace).

    Istanbul was Greek originally.
  8. 28 Apr '13 22:56
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    FACT Ottomans are Turks not Arabs. They are Altaics (Horse Archer types from north Asia someplace).

    Istanbul was Greek originally.
    These things are elementary to Europeans.
  9. 28 Apr '13 22:57
    The King of Morocco keeps friends with the USA and the French who are the most active in financing terrorism in north Africa.
  10. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    It's only business
    29 Apr '13 01:23 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    These things are elementary to Europeans.
    I was amused once by an English poster who assured me that Cro Magnon could not walk to Europe from Asia because he took a ship to Istanbul once.
  11. 29 Apr '13 02:19
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    During a recent trip to Morocco, I accidentally found myself in a small town called Sefrou, surrounded by crowds of Moroccans who cheered wildly as a limousine drew up and out stepped... the King of Morocco. Earlier in the week, during a tour of the High Atlas, our guide had lavished praises on the King's role in preserving peace and stability in the count ...[text shortened]... by (many of) their people to have a kind of legitimacy that is lacking in a republican system?
    The Arab Spring is really a move by the empire to overthrow countries that are too independent and colonize them. Using Al Qaeda seems to be an effective method. Libya first and now Syria.
    I'm sure the regime in Syria never used chemical weapons. In fact, Assad reported their use and invited the UN to investigate. Al Qaeda was probably given chemical weapons to use so the USA, Britain and France can blame the Assad regime for it and get more involved. Don't be surprised if NATO (empire compliant nations) takes a more active role now.
    Syria used to be a colony of France but lost control. Iraq used to be a colony of Britain and lost control. Iraq is now a colony of the USA, another arm of the empire. Morsi is a puppet just like Mubarak was. Nothing has changed in Egypt except the puppet.

    The empire loves puppet dictators because they are usually long term puppets. The Shah served the empire well until the people of Iran had enough of his crap. Now the empire wants to take Iran back like they did Iraq.
  12. 29 Apr '13 09:51 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    A tour guide who 'lavished praises' on his country's leader--how shocking!

    Well, of course it wasn't a shock; and of course people who work with tourists tend to be in favour of the status quo. But he didn't have to say anything. We were in a remote mountain pass; it wasn't like anyone was listening.

    Did your tour guide mention anything about Morocco's record of human rights
    abuses in the Western Sahara, where many people have fought for independence?


    No - and if I'd been on a tour of the Wuyi mountains I don't suppose he'd have had much to say about Tibet, either.

    "Is it simply that these (Arab) Kings are relatively benign figures..."
    --Teinosuke

    Perceiving Arab kings as 'relatively benign figures' involves selective vision.


    Which is why I said "these kings", referring specifically to the three I'd singled out, and wondering if their rule was more benign than that of the specific presidents I compared them with. But in fact I was enquiring if the issue was specific or general. I was trying precisely to pose the question of whether the different outcomes in different Arab countries are simply a matter of relatively civilised autocrats versus relatively barbarous ones, or whether it's possible that monarchy as an institution is seen by many Arabs to have a greater legitimacy than presidential rule.

    During the recent Arab Spring, Bahrain's King Hamad brutally crushed the many
    people who were protesting against his rule. Given that King Hamad's perceived
    as pro-Western and anti-Iranian, the USA and UK seemed to condone what he did.


    One reason that I think monarchs may have a greater legitimacy is that they can claim to some form of religious authorisation for their rule. For instance, the King of Morocco is "commander of the faithful", and until very recent constitutional reforms claimed to be a "sacred" figure. By contrast, Bahrain's king is a Sunni ruling a largely Shia population, and may therefore lack religious legitimacy in the eyes of his people. This could explain the greater intensity of the protests there.

    How was the Hashemite dynasty, for instance, established in Iraq? The British appointed Faisal I as the King of Iraq (after a fraudulent plebiscite) because they wanted a (weak) client king who would largely depend upon continuing British support for his regime's survival.

    Why did they choose a Hashemite? Partly because the Hashemites claimed descent from the Prophet and had been the traditional guardians of the Islamic holy places as Sharifs and Emirs of Mecca. The British likely hoped to bolster the new ruler's legitimacy with some of this traditional religious sentiment. They presumably hadn't reckoned with the fact that, again, a Sunni ruler was being installed to govern a majority Shia population.
  13. 30 Apr '13 00:04 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    [b]A tour guide who 'lavished praises' on his country's leader--how shocking!

    Well, of course it wasn't a shock; and of course people who work with tourists tend to be in favour of the status quo. But he didn't have to say anything. We were in a remote mountain pass; it wasn't like anyone was listening.

    Did your tour guide mention anything abo unni ruler was being installed to govern a majority Shia population. ...
    For a long time, there has been a common belief among Western policy advisors
    that, for various reasons (historical, cultural, religious, even 'racial' the Arabs
    are incapable, at least for the time being, of democratic self-government (as
    though many European societies have not struggled with such difficulties too).
    This trope ("The Arabs ('wogs' cannot be expected to govern themselves." ) has
    long been used to justify American, European, or Israeli military interventations
    into Arab societies. Many Westerners like to make historically disingenuous
    comparisons between Israel's 'model democracy' (ignoring its discrimination
    against its non-Jewish citizens) and Arab states ruled by autocrats (some of
    whose dynasties were installed by Western powers). Not long ago, some
    Westerners liked to compare South Africa's 'democracy'--under apartheid--to
    the lack of democracy in other African states ruled by black leaders.

    Now Teinosuke seems to be arguing that some Arab kings seem 'relatively benign'
    compared to some Arab (non-royal) dictators. One also could 'cherry-pick' some
    examples of European kings who seemed 'relatively benign' compared to some
    European (non-royal) dictators. But would Teinosuke be ready to accept these
    examples as an argument in favour of, for instance, a unified Germany being
    ruled by Prussia's Frederick the Great as an absolute monarch rather than by
    an Austrian (who aspired to become an artist) known as Adolf Hitler? Would
    Adolf Hitler's rise to power 'prove' that the German people are incapable of
    maintaining democratic self-government and must prefer autocratic rulers?
    In that kind of question, if 'Adolf Hitler' were replaced with an Arab dictator and
    the 'German people' were replaced with the 'Arab people', then some Westerners
    would like to believe that the answer must be 'Yes'.

    Teinosuke also seems to overrate the importance of Islamic 'religious authority'
    in granting 'legitimacy' to an Arab ruler. Egypt's Nasser was a secular leader
    (who ruthlessly suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood), and yet, by all accounts,
    he was much more popular than King Farouk I, who, notwithstanding his long line
    of royal ancestors, was loathed on account of his regime's corruption and apparent
    subservience to the British. (Or might Teinosuke admire an Arab king more for
    being more subservient to the British?)

    Also, Teinosuke seems to take a too benign view of the British political intrigues
    in Iraq. I would add that Rashid Ali's 1941 uprising against the British was not
    motivated by his love of Hitler or the Third Reich--which hardly provided him with
    any practical aid. He turned toward the Germans only in accordance with the
    apolitical principle of 'the enemy of my enemy must be my ally for now'.
  14. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    30 Apr '13 01:04
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    Now Teinosuke seems to [...] Teinosuke also seems to [...] Also, Teinosuke seems to [...]
    Teinosuke seems to have been sidelined and replaced in this discussion by a group of straw men.
  15. 30 Apr '13 01:50 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    ...
    Which is why I said "these kings", referring specifically to the three I'd singled out, and wondering if their rule was more benign than that of the specific presidents I compared them with. But in fact I was enquiring if the issue was specific or general. I was trying precisely to pose the question of whether the different outcomes in different Arab at, again, a Sunni ruler was being installed to govern a majority Shia population.
    While I know that Iran's not an Arab society, it's a Middle Eastern society with
    considerable influence in 'the Arab world', so it seems appropriate to include
    it in this discussion.

    "...I said 'these kings', referring specifically to the three I'd singled out, and
    wondering if their rule was more benign than that of the specific presidents I
    compared them with..."
    --Teinosuke

    One could 'cherry pick' a few European monarchs who seem comparatively
    'more benign' than a few European dictators just as easily as one could 'cherry
    pick' a few Arab monarchs and a few Arab dictators. What should an 'apples and
    oranges' comparison supposedly 'prove' about the nature of Arab governments?

    "...the different outcomes in different Arab countries are simply a matter of
    relatively civilised autocrats versus relatively barbarous ones..."
    --Teinosuke

    'Different outcomes' to whose interests? The Arab masses? The Arab elites?
    The USA's or the UK's imperial interests? Israel's? And how should one define
    'relatively civilised' and 'relatively barbarous'? Westerners tend to regard the
    Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as 'relatively civilised', yet its women have fewer rights
    and opportunities than in the Islamic Republic of Iran (I know it's not Arab), which
    Western governments tend to regard as 'relatively barbarous'. While Saddam
    Hussein was ruthless in crushing Iraqis whom he suspected of opposing him, he
    also helped establish educational and health systems that were better (according
    to an Iraqi-born academic whom I knew) than those set up under the US-led
    military occupation of Iraq.

    "...that monarchy as an institution is seen by many Arabs to have a greater
    legitimacy than presidential rule."
    --Teinosuke

    Conservative Britons such as General Sir John Bagot Glubb (an Arabist of some
    distinction) liked to believe so--particularly about his favourite King Abdullah I of
    Jordan--but it depends upon the context. Egypt's Nasser was much more popular
    than King Farouk I, notwithstanding his lengthy royal lineage.

    "One reason that I think monarchs may have a greater legitimacy is that
    they can claim to some form of religious authorisation for their rule."
    --Teinosuke

    In Iran (which I know is not Arab), did the Shah's regime have 'greater legitimacy'
    because he could claim 'some form of religious authorisation'? Of course not.
    Egypt's Nasser was popular and generally accepted as a 'legitimate' leader
    notwithstanding his ruthless suppressing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    "This (religious difference between the king and most of his people) could
    explain the greater intensity of the protests there (in Bahrain)."
    --Teinosuke

    In part, yes, yet I hope that you (Teinosuke) can understand that Arab people,
    even Muslims, also can have non-religious grievances against their rulers.

    "Why did they choose a Hashemite (Faisal I, as King of Iraq)? Partly because
    the Hashemites claimed descent from the Prophet...."
    --Teinosuke

    Who's 'they' in 'they choose'? The British or the Iraqi people?
    All this Hashemite 'family business' failed to help Faisal keep his position as the
    King of Syria (1920) *before* the British appointed him as King of Iraq (1921).
    The French kicked Faisal out of Syria, and then he found refuge in the UK.
    So the British began to shop around, in effect, for an Arab country in which
    their client, Faisal, could be appointed king, and so he became King of Iraq.
    When Western imperial interests came into conflict with an Arab ruler's claims
    of 'descent from the Prophet etc.', Western imperial interests always prevailed.