Arab World Protesters Are Proving Their Regimes Are Illegitimate

(Ha'aretz) Raphael Israeli - In the Arab world sovereignty rests with absolutist or semi-absolutist rulers - with military juntas who have seized power by force or presidents who were "elected" on single-candidate ballots. As they aged, some founded "republican monarchies" in which their illegitimate power is passed on to their sons, just as it is in monarchical regimes. So long as the ruler governs, the opposition sits in jail, not in parliament. All Arab leaders seek to justify their power, usually either by relying on Islamic law or by using anti-Israel and anti-Western ideology as a pretext to force unity against the outside world and confer political legitimacy. Thus the king of Saudi Arabia calls himself "the defender of Islam's two holy cities," while the King of Jordan, on whom Israel dubiously conferred the status of "the guardian of Al-Aqsa," uses this title to claim legitimacy and to repulse the Muslim Brotherhood, which threatens him. The author is a professor emeritus of Middle Eastern studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

2011-02-04 08:56:06

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