(MENAFN - Arab News) THE New York Times posed a question for its readers in "Room for Debate." The newspaper was wondering how the monarchies in the Middle East have managed, for the most part, to weather the turmoil that has brought down authoritarian governments in Tunis, Egypt, Libya and now threatens Syrian rulers.
Many would say instantly that Middle Eastern monarchies are oil-producing countries, which use their wealth to appease their citizens so that they drop the idea of democracy or political change.
But there are monarchies that neither produce oil nor generate petrodollars enough to give away to their citizens. For instance, Morocco is not an oil-producing country.
On the other hand, Oman and Bahrain do not accumulate huge wealth by producing oil. Hence, distribution of wealth by a country plays a minimal role in regime change.
To answer that question, we should look at the reasons that caused political change, or to be specific the Arab Spring, in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and in Syria. Again, among these countries, only Libya is an oil-producing country that generates a great deal of petrodollars.
By examining the political, social and economic situation in the Arab Spring countries, I can say that three primary factors are responsible for a political uprising in any country leading to a quick and swift regime change. These are: (1) lack of justice; (2) deliberate violation of human dignity (oppression); and (3) violation of political and social contract.
With respect to justice, a few months before the Arab Spring took place, social media outlets had shown a video of a Syrian security officer ordering a male citizen to take off his clothes right on the shoulder of the highway, and he did. It is hard to imagine that such a humiliation that violates human dignity could occur in a Muslim or an Arab country.
this amply demonstrates the justice in Syria is nonexistent; consequently, those who would pursue it won't get it.
The security officer felt free to oppress any person he wished, including striping down a citizen in broad daylight in the middle of the road, without expecting any kind of accountability. The citizen, on the other hand, complied with this humiliating order because of he knew there was no entity that he could turn to for justice.
President Bashar Assad and his family are running the country as if it is their personal property, solely enjoying its wealth. They do not believe in sharing natural resources, telecommunication returns as well as oil revenues, thus depriving even the underprivileged Syrians of their due rights. Moreover, the military and security agencies are practically working as security guards for the Assad family warding off any Syrian trespasser on their property.
In the case of Libya, the Tripoli government accumulated billions of petrodollars, but the entire wealth was in the hands of Qaddafi and his cronies who spent the money on sumptuous personal gratifications and gave billions of dollars to foreign political and revolutionary movements. Very little attention was paid to development plans or for raising the standard of living of the ordinary Libyans.
Despite the fact that Libyans had oppressive rulers, they neither complained nor revolted. They only rose when Qaddafi violated their human dignity by dishonoring the tribal traditions, throwing thousands in jail and subjecting them to torture. Ultimately, their growing disdain for Qaddafi and his regime and the boiling anger exploded in a bloody revolt. Thus, the causes of the Libyan regime change were injustice and oppression, rather than the non-distribution of oil wealth that has been generated for over 40 years.
Violation of the political and social contract was the primary cause of regime change in Egypt. Most Egyptians were not expecting their government to distribute wealth, as their country does not posses high-value natural resources such as oil.
Though corruption was rampant, the news that President Hosni Mubarak was grooming his son to succeed him as the president of Egypt frustrated the Egyptians and that was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Egyptians lived with corruption with the hope that their president would leave power through a dignified democratic election, making way for a new leader who would change their situation.
However, President Mubarak's move was perceived as an attempt to shatter their hopes for change, and that meant they would have to live 30 more years in the same situation, while the world, especially the GCC countries were making progress.
Having examined the primary causes of the Arab Spring, I can say that no change is likely to occur in the GCC, particularly in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar or Bahrain. These states provide justice to all; safeguard human dignity; maintain the political and social contract between them and their citizens; and are making efforts to ensure that their citizens get fair share of the wealth the countries possess.