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Kings for All Seasons: How the Middle East’s Monarchies Survived the Arab Spring

Content from the Brookings Doha Center is now archived.  After 14 years of an impactful partnership, Brookings and the Brookings Doha Center are ending their affiliation as the center launches a separate public policy institution based in Qatar. The center will continue its important work under the name the Middle East Council on Global Affairs by the end of 2021.

No Arab monarchy has fallen during the Arab uprisings, and only one – Bahrain – has had a regime-shaking crisis. These regimes have been written off for decades as anachronisms. How did they weather the region’s political storm better than their republican neighbors?

In this Analysis Paper from the Brookings Doha Center, F. Gregory Gause, III lays out the strategies that the Arab monarchies have utilized to stay in power.

The democratic wave that has swept the Arab world has put new pressure on the Gulf monarchies to pursue reform. Still, Gause writes these regimes’ hydrocarbon wealth and coalitions of domestic and international allies – their basic sources of strength – remain intact. Contrary to predictions of the monarchies’ imminent demise, then, Gause argues that these rulers are here to stay. He provides a detailed look at these regimes’ responses to the Arab Spring, including their political reforms – and whether it is realistic to push them any further.

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