GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Social engineering vs Democratic reform: The search for Appropriate Platform to the Upcoming Earthquake in the GCC
Paper Proposal Text :
The December 2010 Tunisia wave of political strive for change has swept the Arab World in a unique way. When People in Egypt shortly after decisively demanded Ben Ali to live, people in Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Libya and now in Syria have all spurred the Arab euphoria for change. However, not all of the protests have turned in to success and not all of the people demands have been addressed yet.
Governments in Morocco, Algeria, Oman and Jordan for now have tamed the revolution with promises for political and constitutional reform. Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria have all military confronted demonstrators. Except for Libya, regimes in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria are still in place. At the same time situation both, in Yemen and Syria, is about to explode. Saudi and UAE assistance to suffocate Bahrain’s revolt have nevertheless raised serious questions about potential influence of the Arab Spring to the wealthy Gulf States. The article will address several challenges rising from the Arab wave of democratization that could impact GCC.
Wealthy Gulf states Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar are still opposing the demands for change. Broadcasting a massive program of state investment in order to by social peace Saudi Arabia has tried to prevent pro-democratic protests. Furthermore, behind the facade of UAE’s wealth and stability there are significant social and economic problems. Wealth for example is not divided evenly among the populace or within the federation. On the other hand even though there are numerous grievances that accompany Arabs’ revolt in almost all of the above mentioned states beside economic deprivation, people struggle for social justice, equality, transparency and willingness for participation have shaped peoples’ demand.
Therefore we argue that without appropriate political reforms Gulf wealth will fail to prevent eruption of peoples’ demand for social justice, dignity and demands for equal access to the world’s opportunities. We offer several arguments that support this thesis focusing predominantly on impact of globalization and the recent estimates about this region’s highest population growth in the world. In this context we will explain why and how Arab Spring could spark struggle for sharing of power, women’s rights as well as overall human rights.
Beside social and human rights issues Arab Spring could cause serious security challenges to the Gulf countries. Religion plays great role in everyday people’s life in this region. However, not all of them share the same religion. Although most of the populace is Muslim the potential Shia-Sunni tensions raise serious concerns in two directions.
There is a social dimension to the problem that has immerged in Bahrain for example, especially after the Arab Spring’s spirit has affected Arab World. Bahrain’s Shia majority has complained of receiving poor treatment in employment, housing and infrastructure. Additionally, many scholars have recently stressed the democratic nature of the Shia strand compared to mainstream Islam and reluctance to accept democratic change by the Wealth Gulf states.
Linked to this events security dimension is another part of the Shia – Sunni tensions that require GCC governments seriously to consider political reform. After the bitter strategic shift in Iraq in favor of Majority Shia population and the Sunni led coalition to suffocate Bahrain riots, Shia-Sunni tensions in the region have worsened.
Additionally, social revolt by the young people in the Gulf and strong Gulf governments’ reluctance to address it with political change could reincarnate Al Qaeda’s position in the Gulf. Although Arab Spring has made violent Al Qaeda efforts irrelevant without appropriate reform and brutal military reactions to the protestors jobless angry youngsters could easily become new recruits for Al Qaeda in this Region. Al Qaeda recruitment modus operandi and serious allegations to some of the GCC countries for acting as “safe haven” to its activities seems to confirm the relevance of this debate.
The article concludes with the proposal for reforms that will address all of the about raised issues.