Resilient Royals: How Arab Monarchies Hang On

Issue Date October 2012
Volume 23
Issue 4
Page Numbers 74-88
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No monarchy fell to revolution in the Arab Spring. What accounts for this monarchical exceptionalism? Analysts have argued that royal autocracies are inherently more resilient than authoritarian republics due to their cultural foundations and institutional structure. By contrast, this paper leverages comparative analysis to offer a different explanation emphasizing deliberate regime strategies made in circumstances of geographic fortuity. The mobilization of cross-cutting coalitions, hydrocarbon wealth, and foreign patronage account for the resilience of monarchical dictatorships in the Middle East. Without these factors, kingships are just as vulnerable to overthrow as any other autocracy—something that history indicates, given the long list of deposed monarchies in the region over the past half-century.

About the Authors

Sean L. Yom

Sean L. Yom is Associate Professor of Political Science at Temple University and Senior Fellow in the Middle East Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

View all work by Sean L. Yom

F. Gregory Gause III

F. Gregory Gause III, professor of political science at the University of Vermont and nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, is the author, most recently, of The International Relations of the Persian Gulf (2010).

View all work by F. Gregory Gause III