The Inevitability of the Arab Spring

by Ghassan Karam

The uprisings in the Arab world did not take me by surprise. I am not implying that I knew, with any precision, when these uprisings would erupt but I am merely referring to the fact that I have been predicting such an upheaval for decades. This does not make me a seer but it does make me a member of the group of people in the world who would rather base their views about the future on an analysis of facts about the forces that exist in societies at a particular point in time. Whenever I was asked about while was not surprised that an Arab uprising has taken place my simple answer has always been; the real surprise would be if no uprising has taken place since the societal structure of the Arab world was and still is ripe for a radical change.

Let us review some of these facts:

(1)All Arab regimes can be looked upon essentially as continuations of colonialism. With very few exceptions the systems in power in each country was installed by the colonial powers and in a few examples some minor revolutionary changes took place, revolutionary changes based often on the promising idea of Pan Arabism, a concept that is dead for all intensive purposes. It is with this in mind that the Arab Spring may be viewed as the beginning of the post colonial era as Professor Hamid Dabashi argues in his latest book.

(2) Political pluralism was (and still is in many places) practically nonexistent in the Arab world. Political parties are either banned outright or if not banned then the formation of one required all sorts of permits and governmental approvals that made the process Kafkaesque.

(3)Constitutions or whatever passed for constitutions were not documents about the aspirations of the citizens since these citizens ever played a major role either in their formulations or in their adoption.

(4)Conditions for a free press, arguably one of the most important institutions in a vibrant dynamic democracy were made very difficult. Most Arab countries; 17 out of 19 according to one count; required special permits for the establishment of a newspaper. In many cases the number of permits was fixed, as in Lebanon, while in others no free press was allowed. A permit inhibits the behaviour of the recipient under the best of circumstances.

(5)Political succession was either mandated as in the Kingdoms and the GCC emirates or became quasi dynastic as in Tunis, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Syria. Even the Lebanese had no problem in amending the constitution to accommodate desire by Presidents to stay in power unconstitutionally.

(6) Many ruled by giving themselves emergency powers (Syria, Egypt, Algeria and Sudan to name a few) that have been in effect for decades. The justification was usually the false claim or blackmail if you will that it is either the regime or disintegration and chaos without it. This appears to be, at the moment, the favourite explanation by the Syrian regime supporters about the need to put down the uprising so brutally.

(7) State security was given almost free hand to apprehend torture and spread fear among peaceful citizens who might wish to object and dissent. Civil liberty was an alien concept in most countries.

(8) Economic performance among the non oil exporting countries was close to dismal. Unemployment was high, economic growth was low, wealth distribution was inequitable, food insecurity was rampant, educational opportunities very limited

(9) Modern technology has made it difficult to keep the abuse, the inequities and the underperformance hidden. The world did shrink as a result of inexpensive transportation but essentially as a result of telecommunication revolutions that allowed individuals to make telephone calls overseas, communicate with friends and relatives in more prosperous parts of the world and the ability to learn that other people in other countries do not have to put up with the daily abuse to their personhood. They have had enough.

As all of you now the above brief list could be expanded into many other areas as corruption and cult of personality. But I trust that the above is enough to make it clear that no people will willingly choose to live under these unjust, unfair and abusive conditions. It was only a matter of time before people would rise and demand their freedom: an inalienable right. That is how history unfolds. All people are destined to be free and all dictators, authoritarian regimes and tyrannical rulers will ultimately fall. This you can count on it is a law as valid as that of gravity. The entire Arab world will ultimately be free.

 

  • 5thDrawer

    We can hope for that freedom Ghassan. Not perhaps in our lifetimes … but it will come, as it has in other places – over time, and with some bloodshed. More people are realizing that life for all of us could be good, when we allow it to happen.
    It is the movement of ideas which need to be rooted in human minds – but all one needs to do is look around.

    At some point, even North Korea may send it’s next Family Member to be schooled in other countries which actually work for their citizens, as the latest Ill was … and perhaps one will be genetically capable of seeing, with some imagination, in his mind’s eye.

    • Ghassan Karam

      5thDrawer,
                     Obviously time is important. As much as I would hate to admit it I am afraid that you are right, we might not experience any of this during our life time. This also reminds me of the quip by Keynes when he was criqued for not being long term oriented: In the long run we are all dead.

  • 5thDrawer

    We can hope for that freedom Ghassan. Not perhaps in our lifetimes … but it will come, as it has in other places – over time, and with some bloodshed. More people are realizing that life for all of us could be good, when we allow it to happen.

    • http://www.cadmeia.com Hannibal

      but here is the problem my dear 5th: In the lack of minds ideas have nowhere to move… lol

      • 5thDrawer

        Well Hannibal, for sure there are some you need to wonder about. ;-)
        Take that guy ‘The Underwear Bomber’. :-) A lot of thinking there, eh?
        Suppose he had succeeded.
        Now he gets his 72 virgins … but what the hell is he going to do with them??? :-)))))

        • master09

          He can sit and talk..to them about life and how good it could have been, he can just watch and dream while the others get it,,,lol  .  :-))))))

      • 5thDrawer

        And … as examples:
        TripoliStar:  A man killed his sister after catching her in the company of a man, while another shooting between relatives left one wounded, in separate incidents Wednesday.
        According to the Central News Agency, a man from the Yaghi family saw his sister with a man in the Tripoli neighborhood of Bab al-Raml and shot her dead. He then attempted to shoot the man who was with her and fired at him while chasing him until he reached Musa Cafés in Bab al-Raml, where several men apprehended him and handed him over to the authorities.
        Separately, in the Beirut southern suburb of Shiyah, Hasan Zeaiter shot at his relative, Zoubeida Zeaiter, over a family dispute, which occurred near the intersection of Mar Mikhael Church. The National News Agency said she suffered injuries to her left hand and feet. The victim was taken to Hayat Hospital for treatment while the shooter escaped and is wanted by the police.

        • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

          What is incredible about these stories is the double standard. The Yaghi man who shot at his sister for being with another man would probably boast about his being with a woman who is the sister of another man. Why is it good for him to go out but not for others?

    • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

      5thDrawer,
                     Obviously time is important. As much as I would hate to admit it I am afraid that you are right, we might not experience any of this during our life time. This also reminds me of the quip by Keynes when he was criqued for not being long term oriented: In the long run we are all dead.

  • Prophettttt

    Ghassan,
    For a while I thought that Arab people  were so subdued and  intimidated  by the fear of dictators and their police states that they gave up on themselves, I can still recall when you were so outraged because the Arab public had not shown outrage at the conditions they were subjected to by their kings ,presidents and emirs.  
    That being said, I can see,as predicted, that Egypt and Tunisia are moving toward political systems where every one, including the extremists, have accepted the fact that their vote counts,and that political positions are to be earned through ballots. There are plenty of work to be done in both countries,and the fact that both countries had a peaceful revolutions is very promising.
    My concern has always been about the counties that were changing through violence and wars. Libya is not too promising. Syria seems to be on blood path where there is no winner.    I guess we’d have to wait and see.

    • Hugo7

       This is such an American view of things. Dont make me laugh, so we are all free, to do what????, buy more Ipads and Ipods? I am not pro regime, but it has to serve a purpose, we are just changing for the sake of changing, so the west has better control of the oil, if there was no oil, no one would care. Why is it that there is no uprising in Saudi Arabia, because the USA does not want it, cannot be without oil. So we send the religious police/Salafists everywhere else to cause chaos. Look at all the “Arab Spring” countries, the chaos there is, with nothing ! in sight to replace what has been torn down in a better way. While we even dont know what better is for the simple man on the street, trying to put food on the table.

      • 5thDrawer

        Hugo … please don’t call that Prophet an American … ;-) He’ll be choking on the scotch. :-)))
        But you should know the answer.
        WHAT you are free to do is THINK, educate yourself, express yourself, practice any religion you think appropriate, and, within a legal framework which attempts to protect all equally, do anything with your life you wish to do.
        If your imagination has been stifled by something pumped into your youth (the controlled time of life), then it’s your fault if you can’t get out from under it. But no-one will prevent you from seeking.
        Chaos happens in chaotic minds which have too many questions with no answers, and yet were not taught/allowed to seek them. Society struggles with that always.

        • Hugo7

           You are totally right, but you have to fix the thinking, political opposition first, and the new house, before you leave the old. The problem is that there is very little organized political opposition, to all those regimes, that can take over, and lead the people to a better future, so fighting and death was not in vain.

      • Prophettttt

        Hugo ,You don’t seem to appreciate  someone’s attempt  to make you laugh. Why not laugh? Life is too short ,friend.
        I suggest you learn from 5thDrawer how to enjoy your scotch and laugh a bit. lol
        On  a serious note, I think you misunderstood my comment altogether. Ipads and Ipods ,are just signs of how far free thinking and freedom takes a society. Not a big fan of either since my kids are so hooked on their Ipods(don’t own an Ipad yet) to the point of obsession, yet they are free to think and speak their minds.
        Although I still say few (meaningless)words here and there ,I  gave up political debates at this forum and others awhile ago because I came to the conclusion that most  members of this forum are set on their rigid  political views , and are only interested in promoting their nonchargeable views instead of true exchanges of views,where one can still learn from those who may have an opposing point of views.
        Again, I urge you to learn to laugh and enjoy life and freedom . I always appreciate people making me laugh,and I’m always pleased to make some one laugh.

        • Hugo7

           Totally get your point and I also laugh  :)))….live is too short…for some at least.  I have no political agenda, I just want people to have a better live, and fight for it, but for the right reason, not because some one oppresses their agenda and misuses them, and in the end to exchange one oppression against another. Freedom is not always a better life. But I truely hope who ever looks and fights for freedom also finds a better life. But it has to come from within. …..Get your kids to read books as well…… :)))

    • Hugo7

       This is such an American view of things. Dont make me laugh, so we are all free, to do what????, buy more Ipads and Ipods? I am not pro regime, but it has to serve a purpose, we are just changing for the sake of changing, so the west has better control of the oil, if there was no oil, no one would care. Why is it that there is no uprising in Saudi Arabia, because the USA does not want it, cannot be without oil. So we send the religious police/Salafists everywhere else to cause chaos. Look at all the “Arab Spring” countries, the chaos there is, with nothing ! in sight to replace what has been torn down in a better way. While we even dont know what better is for the simple man on the street, trying to put food on the table.

  • Prophettttt

    Ghassan,
    For a while I thought that Arab people  were so subdued and  intimidated  by the fear of dictators and their police states that they gave up. I can still recall when you were so outraged because the Arab public had not shown its outrage at the conditions they were subjected by their kings ,presidents and emirs.  
    That being said, I can see,as predicted, that Egypt and Tunisia are moving toward political systems where every one, including the extremists, have accepted the fact that their vote counts,and that political positions are to be earned through ballots. There are plenty of work to be done in both countries,and the fact that both countries had a peaceful revolutions is very promising.
    My concern has always been the counties that were changing through violence and wars. Libya is not too promising. Syria seems to be on blood path where there is no winner.    I guess we’d have to wait and see. 

    • Hugo7

       This is such an American view of things. Dont make me laugh, so we are all free, to do what????, buy more Ipads and Ipods? I am not pro regime, but it has to serve a purpose, we are just changing for the sake of changing, so the west has better control of the oil, if there was no oil, no one would care. Why is it that there is no uprising in Saudi Arabia, because the USA does not want it, cannot be without oil. So we send the religious police/Salafists everywhere else to cause chaos. Look at all the “Arab Spring” countries, the chaos there is, with nothing ! in sight to replace what has been torn down in a better way. While we even dont know what better is for the simple man on the street, trying to put food on the table.

      • 5thDrawer

        Hugo … please don’t call that Prophet an American … ;-) He’ll be choking on the scotch. :-)))
        But you should know the answer.
        WHAT you are free to do is THINK, educate yourself, express yourself, practice any religion you think appropriate, and, within a legal framework which attempts to protect all equally, do anything with your life you wish to do.
        If your imagination has been stifled by something pumped into your youth (the controlled time of life), then it’s your fault if you can’t get out from under it. But no-one will prevent you from seeking.
        Chaos happens in chaotic minds which have too many questions with no answers, and yet were not taught/allowed to seek them. Society struggles with that always.

        • Hugo7

           You are totally right, but you have to fix the thinking, political opposition first, and the new house, before you leave the old. The problem is that there is very little organized political opposition, to all those regimes, that can take over, and lead the people to a better future, so fighting and death was not in vain.

      • Prophettttt

        Hugo ,You don’t seem to appreciate  someone’s attempt  to make you laugh. Why not laugh? Life is too short ,friend.
        I suggest you learn from 5thDrawer how to enjoy your scotch and laugh a bit. lol
        On  a serious note, I think you misunderstood my comment altogether. Ipads and Ipods ,are just signs of how far free thinking and freedom takes a society. Not a big fan of either since my kids are so hooked on their ipods(don’t own an I pad yet) to the point of obsession, yet they are free to think and speak their minds.
        Although I still say few (meaningless)words here and there ,I  gave up political debates at this forum and others awhile ago because I came to the conclusion that most  members of this forum are set on their rigid  political views , and are only interested in promoting their nonchargeable views instead of true exchanges of views,where one can still learn from those who may have an opposing point of views.
        Again, I urge you to learn to laugh and enjoy life and freedom . I always appreciate people making me laugh,and I’m always pleased to make some one laugh.

        • Hugo7

           Totally get your point and I also laugh  :)))….live is too short…for some at least.  I have no political agenda, I just want people to have a better live, and fight for it, but for the right reason, not because some one oppresses their agenda and misuses them, and in the end to exchange one oppression against another. Freedom is not always a better life. But I truely hope who ever looks and fights for freedom also finds a better life. But it has to come from within. …..Get your kids to read books as well…… :)))

  • abulrih

    arab spring?? why not call it **selective arab spring***?…is it by chance that all the nations experiencing turmoils are of a strategic importance to world dominant powers? Tunis was the primer…the litmus test u can say…wake up people and use logical analysis…who is to profit from the **chaos theory**here…other regimes who are in dire needs of reform are sitting pretty and acting as heads of spears to the arab disaster….no sring here

  • abulrih

    arab spring?? why not call it **selective arab spring***?…is it by chance that all the nations experiencing turmoils are of a strategic importance to world dominant powers? Tunis was the primer…the litmus test u can say…wake up people and use logical analysis…who is to profit from the **chaos theory**here…other regimes who are in dire needs of reform are sitting pretty and acting as heads of spears to the arab disaster….no sring here

  • Fauzia45

    Yes!All free men believe that the ¨entire Arab world will be free !¨And yes ,it will take a long long time for there will be a lot of obstacles, but as Lincoln said,¨Freedom is the last,best hope of earth ¨!The dictators and such regimes can send their armies to kill people however they cannot kill  their ideas!!!!

  • Fauzia45

    Yes!All free men believe that the ¨entire Arab world will be free !¨And yes ,it will take a long long time for there will be a lot of obstacles, but as Lincoln said,¨Freedom is the last,best hope of earth ¨!The dictators and such regimes can send their armies to kill people however they cannot kill  their ideas!!!!

  • Full John

    Now Arabs can work at cool jobs at Facebook and Google, travel places and get really good education in their own countries. NOT.

  • Full John

    Now Arabs can work at cool jobs at Facebook and Google, travel places and get really good education in their own countries. NOT.

  • Mahdi Kenaani

    HAHAHAHA since when did southern iran become arab… I know ahVaz (not ahwaz) is populated by arabs, but they are IRANIAN-arabs!

    Actually its the other way around all arabs living in the gulf are of PERSIAN origin which is why most of them are shia’s and speak farsi fluently!

  • Mahdi Kenaani

    HAHAHAHA since when did southern iran become arab… I know ahVaz (not ahwaz) is populated by arabs, but they are IRANIAN-arabs!

    Actually its the other way around all arabs living in the gulf are of PERSIAN origin which is why most of them are shia’s and speak farsi fluently!

  • Mahdi Kenaani

    HAHAHAHA since when did southern iran become arab… I know ahVaz (not ahwaz) is populated by arabs, but they are IRANIAN-arabs!

    Actually its the other way around all arabs living in the gulf are of PERSIAN origin which is why most of them are shia’s and speak farsi fluently!

  • Btru2u

    THE FUTURE OF THE SAUDI MONARCHY….Reports continue to emerge from Saudi Arabia regarding the health of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz after undergoing fourteen hours of back surgery, on November 14, 2012, in a Riyadh hospital. Saudi Arabia, with the world’s largest oil reserves, is a critical piece in the jigsaw of international order. With the end near for King Abdullah, the second generation princes who have ruled the country for most of its 80 year history is coming to an end raising the prospects of potential instability due to a power struggle amongst the ruling family.

    Modern Saudi Arabia was a creation of the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916, a secret understanding between Britain and France defining their respective spheres of influence after World War I. King Abdul-Aziz al-Saud (Ibn Saud) led a band of warriors to capture his ancestral city of Riyadh from a rival family in 1902. Britain signed the “Treaty of Darin” with Ibn Saud that incorporated the lands of the Saud Family as a British protectorate in December of 1915.[1] The western coastal region, Hijaz, was taken next by Ibn Saud along with Mecca and Medina in 1925. He then utilized his 22 marriages to shape and control his vast kingdom. But it was his close alliance with the US that helped him ward off threats towards the nascent state. He signed a concession agreement with Standard Oil of California (now Chevron) in 1935, which included handing over substantial authority over Saudi Oil fields. Standard Oil later established a subsidiary in Saudi Arabia called the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco), now fully owned by the Saudi government.
    There are three key pillars that the house of Saud rests upon, allowing it to play a major role in the region. The first of these is the dominance of the royal family in Saudi politics. The Saudi royal family is effectively an oligarchy that has crafted an absolute monarchy, ruled by consensus. As a result the family continues to dominate the political architecture of the country with no other centers of power existing. The throne of Saudi Arabia changes hands through a power transfer that remains firmly within the Saud clan. Ibn Saud is believed to have had at least 70 children, with at least 16 sons still alive. They and their offspring form a core of about 200 princes who wield most of the power. Estimates of the total number of princes range anywhere from 7,000 upwards. The family’s vast numbers allow it to control most of the kingdom’s important posts and to have an involvement and presence at all levels of government. The key ministries are reserved for the royal family, as are the thirteen regional governorships.
    The Sauds know their own governing elite is deteriorating. Saudi Arabia is a state that, as its name attests, is based on loyalty not to a terrain or an idea but to a family. Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, who established the country along with his son Faisal bin Abdulaziz (the third monarch), dominated the first generation of Saudi rulers. The second generation has been dominated by the “Sudeiri Seven” – the seven sons of Ibn Saud’s favorite wife, Hassa bint Ahmad al-Sudeiri – who oversaw political life, often as kings, giving coherence to the family and thus to the ruling power structure. But that group is disappearing. The current crown prince, Salman, the sixth oldest Sudeiri, is 76. In the third generation, 19 grandsons will compete with 16 surviving sons of Ibn Saud on the Allegiance Council, appointed in 2006 to formalize the succession process. And there are many more grandsons outside the council.
    The second pillar has been the numerous and complex patronage networks established to consolidate control of the oil rich nation. The descendants of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the 18th century founder of the Wahhabi school of thought is only second in prestige to the royal family with whom they formed a mutual support pact and power-sharing arrangement nearly 300 years ago.[2] This pact maintains Wahhabi support for Saud rule and thus uses its authority to legitimize the royal family’s rule.[3] The most important religious posts are closely linked to the al Saud family by a high degree of intermarriage. The religious scholars have promoted the royal family as defenders of Islam through their international efforts in constructing mosques. In situations in which the public deemed certain policies of the royal family questionable, the scholars would invoke fatwas to deflect any dissent. The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa opposing petitions and demonstrations in the middle of the Arab Spring; his fatwa included a “severe threat against internal dissent.”[4]
    The third and final pillar is the country’s mineral wealth, which is concentrated in the royal family and the hands of a few other well-positioned families. The royals receive stipends of varying amounts, depending on their position in the bloodline of King Abdul-Aziz. Possessing the world’s largest oil field has allowed the royal family the means to establish and maintain patronage networks that helped build tribal alliances.
    Saudi Arabia has constructed its foreign relations to protect and enrich the monarchy and in turn the family of Saud. Put within the context of its immense mineral wealth and military riches, Saudi Arabia’s role in the world is largely limited to a mere symbolic leadership due to having the two holy Islamic sites, Makkah and Madina, within its borders. Saudi Arabia has played a role in a handful of regional issues such as hosting negotiations for the two state solution and being a hosting ground for US bases. It is dominated by the royal family who have maintained an internal balance, which keeps them in power. Saudi Arabia was a nation created by the Saud family for the Saud family and as another one of its kings comes to his end in all likelihood there will be a power struggle by various groups of princes whose number is anyone’s guess

  • Btru2u

    THE FUTURE OF THE SAUDI MONARCHY….Reports continue to emerge from Saudi Arabia regarding the health of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz after undergoing fourteen hours of back surgery, on November 14, 2012, in a Riyadh hospital. Saudi Arabia, with the world’s largest oil reserves, is a critical piece in the jigsaw of international order. With the end near for King Abdullah, the second generation princes who have ruled the country for most of its 80 year history is coming to an end raising the prospects of potential instability due to a power struggle amongst the ruling family.

    Modern Saudi Arabia was a creation of the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916, a secret understanding between Britain and France defining their respective spheres of influence after World War I. King Abdul-Aziz al-Saud (Ibn Saud) led a band of warriors to capture his ancestral city of Riyadh from a rival family in 1902. Britain signed the “Treaty of Darin” with Ibn Saud that incorporated the lands of the Saud Family as a British protectorate in December of 1915.[1] The western coastal region, Hijaz, was taken next by Ibn Saud along with Mecca and Medina in 1925. He then utilized his 22 marriages to shape and control his vast kingdom. But it was his close alliance with the US that helped him ward off threats towards the nascent state. He signed a concession agreement with Standard Oil of California (now Chevron) in 1935, which included handing over substantial authority over Saudi Oil fields. Standard Oil later established a subsidiary in Saudi Arabia called the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco), now fully owned by the Saudi government.
    There are three key pillars that the house of Saud rests upon, allowing it to play a major role in the region. The first of these is the dominance of the royal family in Saudi politics. The Saudi royal family is effectively an oligarchy that has crafted an absolute monarchy, ruled by consensus. As a result the family continues to dominate the political architecture of the country with no other centers of power existing. The throne of Saudi Arabia changes hands through a power transfer that remains firmly within the Saud clan. Ibn Saud is believed to have had at least 70 children, with at least 16 sons still alive. They and their offspring form a core of about 200 princes who wield most of the power. Estimates of the total number of princes range anywhere from 7,000 upwards. The family’s vast numbers allow it to control most of the kingdom’s important posts and to have an involvement and presence at all levels of government. The key ministries are reserved for the royal family, as are the thirteen regional governorships.
    The Sauds know their own governing elite is deteriorating. Saudi Arabia is a state that, as its name attests, is based on loyalty not to a terrain or an idea but to a family. Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, who established the country along with his son Faisal bin Abdulaziz (the third monarch), dominated the first generation of Saudi rulers. The second generation has been dominated by the “Sudeiri Seven” – the seven sons of Ibn Saud’s favorite wife, Hassa bint Ahmad al-Sudeiri – who oversaw political life, often as kings, giving coherence to the family and thus to the ruling power structure. But that group is disappearing. The current crown prince, Salman, the sixth oldest Sudeiri, is 76. In the third generation, 19 grandsons will compete with 16 surviving sons of Ibn Saud on the Allegiance Council, appointed in 2006 to formalize the succession process. And there are many more grandsons outside the council.
    The second pillar has been the numerous and complex patronage networks established to consolidate control of the oil rich nation. The descendants of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the 18th century founder of the Wahhabi school of thought is only second in prestige to the royal family with whom they formed a mutual support pact and power-sharing arrangement nearly 300 years ago.[2] This pact maintains Wahhabi support for Saud rule and thus uses its authority to legitimize the royal family’s rule.[3] The most important religious posts are closely linked to the al Saud family by a high degree of intermarriage. The religious scholars have promoted the royal family as defenders of Islam through their international efforts in constructing mosques. In situations in which the public deemed certain policies of the royal family questionable, the scholars would invoke fatwas to deflect any dissent. The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa opposing petitions and demonstrations in the middle of the Arab Spring; his fatwa included a “severe threat against internal dissent.”[4]
    The third and final pillar is the country’s mineral wealth, which is concentrated in the royal family and the hands of a few other well-positioned families. The royals receive stipends of varying amounts, depending on their position in the bloodline of King Abdul-Aziz. Possessing the world’s largest oil field has allowed the royal family the means to establish and maintain patronage networks that helped build tribal alliances.
    Saudi Arabia has constructed its foreign relations to protect and enrich the monarchy and in turn the family of Saud. Put within the context of its immense mineral wealth and military riches, Saudi Arabia’s role in the world is largely limited to a mere symbolic leadership due to having the two holy Islamic sites, Makkah and Madina, within its borders. Saudi Arabia has played a role in a handful of regional issues such as hosting negotiations for the two state solution and being a hosting ground for US bases. It is dominated by the royal family who have maintained an internal balance, which keeps them in power. Saudi Arabia was a nation created by the Saud family for the Saud family and as another one of its kings comes to his end in all likelihood there will be a power struggle by various groups of princes whose number is anyone’s guess

  • 5thDrawer

    We can hope for that freedom Ghassan. Not perhaps in our lifetimes … but it will come, as it has in other places – over time, and with some bloodshed. More people are realizing that life for all of us could be good, when we allow it to happen.
    It is the movement of ideas which need to be rooted in human minds – but all one needs to do is look around.

    At some point, even North Korea may send it’s next Family Member to be schooled in other countries which actually work for their citizens, as the latest Ill was … and perhaps one will be genetically capable of seeing, with some imagination, in his mind’s eye.

  • Hannibal

    but here is the problem my dear 5th: In the lack of minds ideas have nowhere to move… lol

  • Ghassan Karam

    5thDrawer,
                   Obviously time is important. As much as I would hate to admit it I am afraid that you are right, we might not experience any of this during our life time. This also reminds me of the quip by Keynes when he was criqued for not being long term oriented: In the long run we are all dead.

  • 5thDrawer

    Well Hannibal, for sure there are some you need to wonder about. ;-)
    Take that guy ‘The Underwear Bomber’. :-) A lot of thinking there, eh?
    Suppose he had succeeded.
    Now he gets his 72 virgins … but what the hell is he going to do with them??? :-)))))

  • 5thDrawer

    And … as examples:
    TripoliStar:  A man killed his sister after catching her in the company of a man, while another shooting between relatives left one wounded, in separate incidents Wednesday.
    According to the Central News Agency, a man from the Yaghi family saw his sister with a man in the Tripoli neighborhood of Bab al-Raml and shot her dead. He then attempted to shoot the man who was with her and fired at him while chasing him until he reached Musa Cafés in Bab al-Raml, where several men apprehended him and handed him over to the authorities.
    Separately, in the Beirut southern suburb of Shiyah, Hasan Zeaiter shot at his relative, Zoubeida Zeaiter, over a family dispute, which occurred near the intersection of Mar Mikhael Church. The National News Agency said she suffered injuries to her left hand and feet. The victim was taken to Hayat Hospital for treatment while the shooter escaped and is wanted by the police.

  • 5thDrawer

    And … as examples:
    TripoliStar:  A man killed his sister after catching her in the company of a man, while another shooting between relatives left one wounded, in separate incidents Wednesday.
    According to the Central News Agency, a man from the Yaghi family saw his sister with a man in the Tripoli neighborhood of Bab al-Raml and shot her dead. He then attempted to shoot the man who was with her and fired at him while chasing him until he reached Musa Cafés in Bab al-Raml, where several men apprehended him and handed him over to the authorities.
    Separately, in the Beirut southern suburb of Shiyah, Hasan Zeaiter shot at his relative, Zoubeida Zeaiter, over a family dispute, which occurred near the intersection of Mar Mikhael Church. The National News Agency said she suffered injuries to her left hand and feet. The victim was taken to Hayat Hospital for treatment while the shooter escaped and is wanted by the police.

  • Ghassan Karam

    What is incredible about these stories is the double standard. The Yaghi man who shot at his sister for being with another man would probably boast about his being with a woman who is the sister of another man. Why is it good for him to go out but not for others?

  • master09

    He can sit and talk..to them about life and how good it could have been, he can just watch and dream while the others get it,,,lol  .  :-))))))

  • master09

    He can sit and talk..to them about life and how good it could have been, he can just watch and dream while the others get it,,,lol  .  :-))))))