Saturday, November 17, 2012
Royal News Roundup
The most critical news this week has all been out of the Middle East where existing monarchies are trembling and Israel and Palestine are on the brink of war, a conflict which could certainly spread to include many others. In Kuwait tens of thousands of protestors packed Parliament square to protest voting law changes enacted by the Emir to protect national unity. “Arab Spring” slogans were chanted which does not bode well for the monarchy considering that the movement has led to the downfall of four national leaders so far. The opposition consists mainly of Islamists, tribal groups and liberal lawyers and students. These protests have been common for some time but have been becoming more broadly based and more defiant towards the monarchy itself in recent days. Onlookers have said that events in Kuwait could set a trend for radical change in the other Gulf State monarchies.
Other monarchies in the region have cut back on their support for Jordan (a resource poor country) and this has forced the King to depend more on the United States which, in recent years, pushed for more liberal reforms and greater democracy, particularly as the Obama administration embraced the “Arab Spring” as a positive development. The King tried to walk a fine line between maintaining his authority and increasing democracy but the public seems to have developed un-realistic expectations and when these were not fulfilled, discontent has grown. Much of it, however, would not exist were it not for the worsening economic situation, with loans from the International Monetary Fund increasingly hard to come by. This was worsened by the outbreak of civil war in Syria which has caused Jordan to be flooded by hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. There are also now increasing worries about a war between Israel and Palestine and whether countries like Jordan or Egypt will intervene. Speaking of the potential war in Israel, ailing King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called for “reason” and “wisdom” in the unfolding crisis in a telephone conversation with Egyptian President Morsi whose comments have been rather more strident to the point of making thinly veiled threats of Egyptian intervention.