Rise of kingdoms and the collapse of states

Mohammed Al Shaikh

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The revolutions, protests and bloody conflicts that swept through the Arab world since 2011 have managed to overthrow some Arab republics, while all the monarchies, or the kingdoms of the Gulf states, remained untouched. The question is: Why?

Most Arab leftists believes this is due to “oil” and make it the sole and main reason for the stability of the Arab kingdoms, as they say in their writings. Oil wealth may have contributed to this stability, and to resist these turbulences, but this is not the case for Arab royal states, which suffer from poor natural resources, such as oil, but the turbulences passed by quietly in countries such as Jordan and Morocco.

Iraq and Libya are oil-rich countries, yet their regimes have fallen, making this justification unacceptable as a single reason for the Kingdoms’ ability to resist the turbulences that the supporters called it the “Arab Spring”, although it has nothing to do with spring.

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I see that this phenomenon has multiple motives and reasons, it is complicated; in the sense that it is due to several reasons; the most important one in my opinion, which comes as a (cornerstone) is the (legitimacy) in the social contract between the ruler and the people.

For example, Saudi Arabia set up its social contract nearly 300 years ago. This state was based on legitimate basis, which the Saudi individual accepted, was convinced of and defended it; thus it became rooted and prevailed in the Saudi culture.

The most important reasons behind the survival of kingdoms and the fall of republics was that the republics lacked political legitimacy

Mohammed Al Shaikh

The military superiority

When the Ottomans invaded it, they were able to overthrow the regime as they had the military superiority and destroyed the first capital Diriyah; but because the legitimacy of this country was strong and rooted, it revived again represented in the (second Saudi state).

There were then disputes between those who inherited the legality, which fell but the legitimacy did not. King Abdul Aziz then arrived on the scene and revived it for the third time, his sons and grandchildren are still ruling till today.

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Legality and the legitimacy of its rulers is the most important reasons and the basis of the social contract between the ruler and the people, which is always the legitimate ground for stability.

On the other hand, the Arab republics, with no exception, are the result of an adventure that was carried out secretly by a military person, who imposes himself and steals the authority.

All that I want to say is that political phenomena cannot happen by coincidence, without motives or reasons, and what I have tackled in this short article, confirms that the most important reasons behind the survival of kingdoms and the fall of republics was that the republics lacked political legitimacy; or that its social contract was based solely on the legitimacy of the gun.

This article is also available in Arabic.
Mohammed Al Shaikh is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah newspaper. He tweets @alshaikhmhmd.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.