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What if republics were kingdoms?

Nov 30,2015 - Last updated at Nov 30,2015

Historically speaking, most revolutions were followed by long periods of chaos and internal violence.

What people revolted against was usually replaced by a worse dictatorship and dysfunctional state.

The French Revolution started as an attempt to free the political prisoners from the infamous Bastille prison but ended with a series of revolutions and counter-revolutions which eventually led to the Napoleonic era.

Syria has a similar story, at least seemingly. The people in the southern city of Daraa wanted to free prisoners from jailhouse, but were met with fire and disdain.

In retribution, the jail was attacked by the people. This was over four years ago and Syria has become an international battleground.

The American Revolution was basically a British American coup d’état against the British officers loyal to the king in London.

The British officers labelled Washington, Penn, Jefferson, Adams, etc., as traitors and separatists. Yet, the American Revolution had masterminds and intellectual overseers who eventually wrote the American constitutions and built the architecture of a democratic society.

In most developing countries, the wars of independence produced a military junta rule. Many heads of states were toppled only to be replaced by worse ones.

There are exceptions, in India, South Africa and to some degree Egypt under president Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Countries where such junta coups failed managed to survive and even prosper.

Monarchies have proved to be much more resilient and reformist when compared to the so-called republics. 

Had Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Egypt sustained their royal rulers, they would have been much better off today.

All the rhetoric of the Arab republics fizzled down, and many countries witness poverty, despotic regimes, malfunctioning institutional structures and wars that ended in utter disasters.

Modern history in the Arab world does not show any two kingdoms going to war against each other.

They may have had their disputes and divergent positions on certain issues, but they always kept their differences mellow and discretionary.

Republics and kingdoms fought it out quite often, either directly or by proxy.

Republics had a long, shameful, history of media, security and military wars.

Kingdoms rarely use foul language or trite arguments against their foes. Republics, on the other hand, made abusive language a distasteful art.

Edward Gibbon, the 18th century British historian, raised the question “what if”. The late economist Douglas North called it “hypothetical counterfactual analysis”.

Modern historians believe that their job is not only to write history, but to evaluate it and even criticise its events.

In the same fashion, one can ask: “What if Hosni Zaeem, the Syrian who executed the first Arab coup d’état had not done so? Would Syria have been better off today?

If the Hashemite family were still ruling Iraq, would it be the shambles as it is now?

What if Muammar Qadhafi had stayed a major in the Libyan army until he died naturally? Would Libya be the penniless state which we witness now?

These are questions we need to explore in the honest pursuit of a sobering truth. 

Kings and princes in the Arab world make superior leaders in every respect to hot-headed republic rulers.


The writer, a former Royal Court chief and deputy prime minister, is a member of Senate. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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