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Analysis Of The Effects Of The Arab Spring On Bahrain And Qatar

3508 words - 14 pages

“Since December 2010, the wave of uprisings and protests across the Middle East has produced spectacular changes in the region’s authoritarian republics but has largely bypassed its autocratic monarchies” (Yom and Gause, p. 1). The most interesting aspect of this trans-national movement of uprisings is how it “has largely bypassed the autocratic monarchies”. In this paper, I will focus on how the Arab Spring affected two such autocratic monarchies: the State of Qatar and the Kingdom of Bahrain. The Bahraini public motivated and frustrated with the way things were went to the streets to protest in mass in February 2011 (Freedom House, Countries at a Crossroads, p. 1). Since this could potentially weaken the existing government, as it did in Egypt and Tunisia, the autocratic government of Bahrain saw the protests as a threat to their power and legitimacy and met the protesters with a brutal crackdown and further political repression. These protests and the subsequent violence did not, however, occur in Qatar. So, why did the Arab Spring affect the domestic stability of the oil-producing constitutional monarchy of the Kingdom Bahrain but not the oil-producing constitutional monarchy of the State of Qatar? Domestic stability here is defined as “the absence of large-scale violence in a country” (Nathan). Energy-rich countries that have recently changed from absolute monarchies to constitutional monarchies are more likely to suffer domestic instability if two things occur. First, that the profits from energy resources have declined and are unequally distributed among its citizens among other policies of sectarian-based economic discrimination. Second, that in the case of the religious minority monarchy that hold the political majority, there is no “cross-cutting coalition” with groups outside of their minority and the repression of the political voice of the religious majority continues (Yom and Gause, p. 10). Fulfilling the aforementioned conditions in the context of regional uprisings calling for democratic reform, such as the Arab Spring, a constitutional monarchy is more likely to suffer domestic instability.
First, I will address the socioeconomic contexts of both countries while tying in how the narrative supports my argument. Then, I will address the political context of both countries as new constitutional monarchies up until the Arab Spring while also highlighting the institutions and policies that supports my argument. This will elucidate the cause for the grievances of Bahrainis that led them to protest and the lack of frustrations in the Qatari public; it will also elucidate the reasons for why the protests were met with violence.
The dichotomy between the religious ruling minority, the Sunni al Khalifa family and their tribal alliances, and the religious majority and political minority, the Shia Bahraini citizens, is crucial in understanding the frustrations of the tens of thousands of Bahrainis who took to the streets on February...

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