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French Version

A generation of reformists kings in the Arab world

It surprising to note that rising generation of kings and Arab sheiks is achieving a good work of modernization of their countries, affirms The Wall Street Journal.

Is monarchy better for the Arab world ? The question worries the Arab nationalists who dominated the intellectual life in the Middle East during a whole generation, says The Wall Street Journal.

It also embarrasses the defenders of the democracy to Western, including the greatest world power.

The American decision to deposit Saddam Hussein indeed fed the speculations on a possible replacement of the military dictatorship by a constitutional monarchy in Iraq. It is surprising to note that rising generation of kings and Arab sheiks is achieving a good work of modernization of their countries, better than the military republics did whenthey seized the power during the past half century, underlines the American daily newspaper.

"The old idea that the republics are necessarily better than monarchies is exceeded", affirmed Mohammed Al-Rumaihi last month in the columns of the Arab daily newspaper, based in London, "Al-Hayat", noting that these republics lost more Palestinian territories that monarchies which preceded them. In the same way, the economic development was rather limited and the public freedoms repressed under the nationalist governance, according to the same daily newspaper. "Some could be wary of a possible return of monarchy in Iraq. But in truth, it is necessary to see the good side in this change ". "Why not to consider it instead of being afraid of it?" the newspaper continues.

The debate is open at a time when the Arabs realized, shortly after the shock of September 11, that the royal families innovate and adapt more quickly than the republican systems, considered for a long time as synonimus of progress in the Arab world. The young kings in Morocco, Jordan, Bahreïn and Dubaï revolutionize the methods of their fathers and liberalize, within limits, the political scene in their countries. In the Persian Gulf, the old arguments on the borders were transformed into efforts for
the development of the area. In Jordan and Dubaï, the royal families operate the technological changes necessary to lead their populations to the age of Internet. In Morocco, the new king called on the poor and the oppressed, Wall Street Journal indicates.

"Some princes are telling me: "Please, do not fail in your mission because you allow us to say to our elder: ' look at what happens to Jordan with its young king ' ", declared last year king Abdellah of Jordan in an interview.

Iraq is one of the Arab republics born in the current national and anticolonial movement from the Fifties. Their goal was to put an end to the ineffective and corrupted monarchies supported by foreign powers. But today, it is increasingly difficult to differentiate monarchies from republics: President Bashar Al Assad replaced his father in 2000, Saddam Houssein prepares his son Qusay to his succession, and the Egyptian and Libyan presidents are following the same way. Meanwhile, it is the reign of corruption in these countries that certain Arab newspapers qualify "republican monarchies", underlines The Wall Street Journal. Nevertheless, a significant distinction should be made: the republican dictators do not have the authentic legitimacy of the monarchs. "When a leader is legitimate, it must act as such. But, when it reaches the power on a tank, it must act without mercy ", comments on Fahd Fanek.

Casablanca 10-09-2002
L'Economiste Redaction

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