MembersDemocracy and Civil Rights in Arab Monarchies

The murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul allegedly by agents of his own country failed to make any genuine waves in the Arab world.

By Edy Cohen |
Mohammed bin Salman
Photo: Photo: AP

For the rest of us, the affair demonstrated how the monarchical Arab states relate to their own opposition and the true nature of freedom of expression and human rights in these countries.

While in Israel and the West the role of political opposition is anchored in law, the governments of the Persian Gulf states tolerate no such criticism. Anyone defying the government is soon found in a cemetery or in prison or forced to travel abroad. That is because these countries view any lack of support for the regime as treason.The Gulf states have no real political parties, at least not as Westerners would define them. This is how countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait operate. In fact, with the exception of Kuwait, these countries have no parliament at all, and all power is vested solely in the royal families, who, we might remember, were handed the reins of rulership by the British in the early part of the 20th century. The power wielded by these families is absolute. The king, prince or...

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