“All these milder monarchies now risk slipping into the habits of the Gulf’s worst human-rights offenders, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The 2011 crackdown by Bahrain’s rulers left nearly 100 dead and the island kingdom dangerously split between a Shia majority and loyalist Sunnis. Hopes of respite rose when the government accepted the recommendations of an international panel for reform. It has implemented almost none of them, however, and Bahraini courts have continued to dispense cruel justice. This month the highest appeal court upheld life sentences for seven men accused of calling for anti-government demonstrations. Saudi Arabia, however, remains in a league of its own, ranked by Freedom House, along with North Korea and Equatorial Guinea, as one of the world’s least free nations. Its small, harassed band of rights campaigners celebrates such small advances as the induction of women into the shura council. But they face a double challenge—not only from the state but from a religious right that habitually brands democracy supporters as apostates from Islam. ………………..”
Also sprach The Economist, turning its attention back to the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian-American Gulf. In several of the Gulf states, the idea of “reform” is just not tenable under some of the current ruling clans. I can name at least two of them. Can you imagine several thousand Al Saud princes giving up their life-and-death-and-loot grip on the vast country? Can you imagine the leech-like Al Khalifa clan voluntarily releasing their blood-sucking grip over the islands of Bahrain?
Okay, the Al-Saud start to make the right noises about women’s rights and the West goes ape in excitement, thinking their ‘values’ are taking hold. The Al Khalifa allow booze and prostitution in their hotels, and some in the West, mostly European expatriates whose fortunes are tied to the rulers, call that enlightenment. Assigning a few token women to a toothless appointed body in Riyadh that prolongs the repression of the absolute monarchy is called reform. Allowing booze and sinning in Manama hotels (mostly for the benefit of thirsty and hungry Saudi faithful) is supposed to imply that the ruling gang is reform-minded. Some may even call it humanitarian.
Reform? My well-educated guess is that probably very likely possibly almost certainly it is absofuckinglutely too late for mere “reform” in those two oligarchies. It will go on until it is resolved. The fear is gone or it is on its way out.