The Arab Spring might just as well be called the Arab Republics' Spring. Since December 2010, the wave of uprisings and protests across the Middle East has produced spectacular changes in the region's authoritarian republics but has largely bypassed its autocratic monarchies. Tunisia's President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled the country, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak effectively transferred power to the military, and Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh acceded to a transitional framework. Revolts in other countries triggered more violent reactions. In Libya, "Brother Leader" Muammar Qadhafi perished in an insurrection, while in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad's single-party dictatorship teeters on the brink of collapse.

The eight Arab monarchies, by contrast, stand firm. Saudi Arabia and Oman saw only isolated protests, while in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) virtually no dissent mobilized. In Jordan and Morocco, youth-driven oppositionists filled some streets but failed to rouse the masses. In Kuwait, popular protest stemmed from long-running tensions between parliamentary factions and the ruling family rather than any new political demands. Only Bahrain has seen large-scale unrest, but the ruling al-Khalifa clan has weathered it, aided by the armed intervention of the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

In short, the scorecard of the Arab Spring neatly divides by regime type. Monarchies fared far better than republics. The popular belief has been that Arab kings and princes are "sitting on their thrones fairly comfortably," secure against the winds of change.1 To explain this striking correlation between regime type and regime persistence, many analysts have pointed to culture and institutions. The cultural approach holds that Arab kingships enjoy traditional religious and tribal legitimacy, which induces exceptionally loyal support from citizens. Meanwhile, the institutional approach contends that because kings organizationally stand above everyday politics, they can skillfully intervene in the system to spearhead controlled reforms that defuse public discontent. Dynasticism, wherein royal blood relatives monopolize key state offices, further helps to keep the regime intact.

Yet such explanations do not hold up under scrutiny. For one, in March 2011 a social revolution nearly did succeed in Bahrain-a crucial counterexample that we shall revisit later. More generally, the postcolonial record reveals that royalism has hardly guaranteed authoritarian perpetuity; since the 1950s, just as many Arab monarchies have fallen as have survived. Cultural arguments recycle old Orientalist logic, are patently unfalsifiable, and ignore the historical reality that powerful ruling monarchies owe much of their modern power to colonial machinations rather than indigenous forces.

Yom, Sean L., Gause, F Gregory.. "RESILIENT ROYALS: HOW ARAB MONARCHIES HANG ON." Journal of Democracy 4(2012):74. eLibrary. Web. 17 Oct. 2013.

The conflict in Syria is complicated, but its solution is simple. Do nothing. Everyone knows it. Both the enemy and the malicious regimes, which portray Barack Obama as a hypocritical warmonger, as well as the American allies, who take their hands off Obama's likely intervention against Al-Asad.

Do not be mistaken, President Obama has only himself to blame for finding himself in a situation with no good way out. He was fiercely resisting intervention for a long time. But now that Al-Asad's army has probably crossed Obama's "red line" by using chemical weapons, an intervention is more problematic since, in the meantime, radical Islamists have significantly strengthened their position in the Syrian opposition. This is also the main reason one hears from the American allies when they are explaining why Washington has to go at it alone.

However, this argument is also a convenient hiding place for many things. For instance, for the quietly shared opinion that we needed the Arab Spring like a fish needs a bicycle because the stability of dictatorships was — and continues to be — better for the West than the current developments. Already in the case of Libya we heard diplomats and politicians say that while Al-Qadhafi was a monster, it was possibly a lesser evil than what would follow him.

Mail, Cyprus., Nicosia, in. "Cypriot editorial says US president obliged to take action in Syria." BBC Monitoring European. 10 Sep. 2013eLibrary. Web. 17 Oct. 2013.

If only the terrible conflict in Syria were a simple case of good versus evil, a freedom movement challenging a dictatorship, then it would be easy to know what to do. The world has watched in horror for three years as that unhappy country has torn itself apart at horrendous human cost. An estimated 93,000 people have been killed, and a million refugees have spilled across Syria's borders.
Barack Obama set the regime a "red line", warning that the US could not continue to stand by doing nothing if chemical weapons were deployed against the rebels. Last week, the White House announced that US intelligence had "high confidence" that the nerve agent sarin and other chemical weapons, used on a small scale, had killed 100 to 150 people. The "red line" has been crossed, and America is now going to send military aid to the rebels.


Amid these horrors, David Cameron's reluctance to stand aside is understandable, especially now the US intends to arm the rebels, and Saudi Arabia, according to the latest reports, is already doing so. It seems callous to do nothing in the face of so much human suffering. It is tempting to follow a line of argument going something like this - "We must do something. Arming the rebels is something. We must arm the rebels". It is a step that the Foreign Secretary William Hague pointedly refused to rule out when interviewed yesterday morning on the Today programme, when he said that Britain needed to protect the Syrian opposition from being "exterminated".

At the G8 summit in Belfast, Barack Obama and David Cameron are up against Vladimir Putin, whose government is arming one of the combatants in the Syrian conflict - the wrong side, in the West's view. If the talk about arming the rebels is their negotiating ploy, intended to persuade Mr Putin to stop arming the Syrian dictator, that is understandable but dangerous. In diplomacy, it is seldom a good idea to make a threat unless you are prepared to carry it out. With Mr Putin showing no sign of giving ground, both the US and British governments are in danger of putting themselves in a position where the choice is to intervene, or lose face.

"Talk of arming Syria's rebels is dangerous." Independent - London. 18 Jun. 2013: 16. eLibrary. Web. 17 Oct. 2013.

Arab Spring countries, undoubtedly, are now going through a very painful transition period, coping with the devastating aftermath of the unrest since 2011. Political assassinations and polarization in Tunisia; deep social divides and a military takeover in Egypt, sectarian conflicts and an institutional vacuum in Libya and the enduring civil war in Syria have all but wreaked the affected countries' economies and led to a sharp fall in investment and growth.

The unrest that started in Tunisia and swept across the Arab world will cost the seven most-affected countries about 800bn dollars by the end of next year, according to HSBC. The uprisings that have toppled two leaders in Egypt, led to the killing of Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in Libya and plunged Syria into civil war will lower cumulative economic output in the nations to just above 2tn dollars from 2.9tn dollars over the four years, HSBC said last week. The other three countries included in the study are Bahrain, Jordan and Lebanon.

Egypt's budget deficit is now running around 3.2bn dollars monthly and foreign direct investment is down 75 per cent since 2011. More than 4,500 factories have been shut, leaving hundreds of thousands unemployed in a nation where two-fifths of people live on the poverty line. Libya's oil-driven economy may expand 0.7 per cent this year, HSBC said, compared with a forecast of 15.9 per cent three months ago. Morocco's growth forecast is cut to 2.8 per cent from 3.4 per cent this year.

website, Gulf Times, Doha, in. "Qatari paper urges Arab Spring states to put aid to best use." BBC Monitoring Middle East. 16 Oct. 2013eLibrary. Web. 17 Oct. 2013.

Oct. 09 — JEDDAH — The Arab Spring uprisings will end up costing Middle Eastern economies about $800 billion in lost output by the end of next year as countries struggle to restore stability, HSBC has estimated.

HSBC predicted in a research report, cited by Reuters, that at the end of 2014, gross domestic product in the seven hardest-hit countries — Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Bahrain — would be 35 percent lower than it would have been if the 2011 uprisings had not happened.
"The combination of a severe fiscal deterioration, and a decline in government effectiveness, security and the rule of law will weigh heavily on policymakers' efforts, even to bring employment back to pre-revolution levels," it said.

HSBC forecast GDP growth in the Middle East and North Africa would slow to 4.0 percent this year, reviving only slightly to 4.2 percent next year, from 4.5 percent last year and 4.9 percent in 2011.

Egypt, for example, is expected to grow just 2.2 percent this year and 3.0 percent next year as it faces heavy pressures on its state budget and external accounts — growth rates which many analysts believe are too low to cut its unemployment.

Partly because the Arab Spring lifted oil prices and encouraged governments to boost spending on social welfare in order to buy peace, Gulf countries have mostly prospered since 2011.

News, Arab., Jeddah, Arabia, Saudi.. "Arab Spring to cost Middle East $800bn." McClatchy - Tribune Business News. 09 Oct. 2013eLibrary. Web. 17 Oct. 2013.