History and Society of the Arab Monarchies - Textauszüge
2.1. Morocco (constitutional monarchy):
The Kingdom of Morocco counts 30.704.000 inhabitants. The capital is Rabat which is located along the coastal side. The languages spoken in Morocco are Arabic, French as well as Berber dialects. Most of the citizens are Muslims, besides the life expectancy is about 70 years. The gross domestic product per capita is relatively low with $ 3.900, 52% of the population are able to read and write.
The royal family of the Kingdom of Morocco had existed since the seventeenth century. The country was independent and ruled by a sultan until the early twentieth century. In 1912, Morocco was split by the French and the Spanish during the 'scramble of Africa' (Gelvin, chapter five, p. 121) and thus lost its full independence. This caused a rebellion among the people of the Spanish part eight years later, in 1920. The protesters demanded an independent state; furthermore, Morocco should become a republic which would mean the end of the Sultan's reign. The Spanish and the French managed to put down the protests, the sultan could then continue to rule the state. After the Second World War, the sultan encouraged the nationalists to fight for Morocco's independence, in 1956 Morocco became a fully independent state. The politicians' power was passed on to the sultan, now king of the country, who had absolute control over the country.
3. The stability of the monarchies:
It is noteworthy that the Arab monarchies virtually faced no civil war or far-reaching political changes during the period of the Arab Spring. This leads to the question why the monarchies in the Arab world are also stable in times of uprisings and whether they will manage to fight off any external or internal threats in the future.
A very important factor by which the stability of a monarchy is determined is the respective regime. Constitutional monarchies have proven very stable; half of the monarchies in the Arab world are constitutional monarchies: Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait (constitutional emirate which can be equated to a constitutional monarchy) and finally Bahrain. The exceptions are Saudi Arabia and Oman as 'non-constitutional' monarchies, Qatar as an emirate and the UAE as a federation.
Furthermore, the protection of the British and the Americans led to an increase in stability, as the colonial powers actually supported the Arab monarchies and enabled them to fight off any potential riots or uprisings. The influence of Islam is another reason why the monarchies are stable: Because Islam includes many traditions regarding politics, the government remains relatively unchanged. Apart from that, the tradition of dynastic power is passed on to members of the royal families only. A noteworthy example for this hereditary power is a caliphate in which the power remains in the family.
The monarchies' population is very low (sometimes less than 1 million), for that reson the emir or king is able to control his country more easily, since he has a better 'overview' over his people, especially over the elites who might potentially try to become powerful. During the Arab Spring, the monarchies provided money for the inhabitants in order to prevent them from being unsatisfied with the political system and the economic situation. The Gulf Cooperation Council gave them additional support.
The significance of oil enables the monarchies to be economically stable as well. The Persian Golf States, Kuwait and the UAE in particular, are very rich in oil and export it to the West. In 2010, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi exported about 95%, and Bahrain which is considered relatively poor in oil, exported 60%. Qatar and Saudi Arabia exported 70% (Qatar) and 90% (Saudi Arabia). On the other hand, the guest workers from e.g. China enable the monarchies to improve and stabilise the overall living standards. However, the inequal distribution of oil has lead to conflicts, since the poor people are often unable to get access to it.