Which Middle East regimes are conservative?

Some interesting comments on my Middle East posts.  Here’s a sample:

Roccasecca:

I do not think there is much difference between the “order” established by Lenin & his successors in the USSR and the “order” established by Gadhafi. Let’s not be obtuse here: Gadhafi is manifestly a tyrannical and revolutionary dictator. If you don’t trust the American media (a perfectly understandable sentiment of course), then peruse Gadhafi’s own “Green Book”. He embraces nearly every error of modernity, including secularism and socialism.

Let’s remember that Gadhafi came to power deposing the legitimate ruler of Libya, King Idris, declared a permanent Socialist Revolution, established a “republic of the masses”, and styles himself Leader and Guide of the Revolution.

Wrangel:

There are some truly insane contradictions in western liberal mindset in middle east policy. While secular Arab nationalists like Saddam and Gadhafi are “tyrants” and “enemies of the freedom”, absolute monarchies and Islamic theocracies like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and others are western allies. How this makes sense according to liberal-secular-democratic mindset of western elites?

But although secular, Saddam, Gadhafi and Assad in Syria mostly have/had moderately conservative religious policy. What is mostly important to us, Saddam, Assad and Gadhafi are/were also very tolerant to Christianity.

While we are talking, there is bloody unrest in Bahrain, which is in the process of crushing with the help of Saudi Arabia army (an absolute Islamic monarchy). Saudi Arabia is main financier and exporter of Islamic fundamentalism in the world.
So why Bahrein absolutist monarch can crush rebellion of 80% of its Shiah population, while Libyan dictator cannot crush rebellion in Cyrenaica? There is also rebellion in Yemen. What makes Libya so special?

Reggie Perrin:

The problem is that the “Middle East” isn’t a single unit. The regimes that the people are protesting against range from the profoundly conservative Islamic theocracy of the Saudis to the secular pro-western fascism of Mubarak to the weird combination of half-baked socialism, tribalism and psychotic lunacy that is the Gadaffy regime.

As with the French in the 1780s and Europeans in the 1840s, I suspect that the real driver for all this is empty stomachs rather than either democracy or Allah.

Wrangel again:

What if monarch (for example) is modernist and anti-traditionalist? We have example of Iranian Shah, who was combination of monarchist authority and anti-traditionalist forces. As such he came into conflict with his country’s tradition and religious authorities.
Thus he was deposed in fine example of conservative revolution.

As a matter of fact, I am a big supporter of the Islamic Republic, as I wrote about in a couple of posts from long ago:

Now, let us ask ourselves, in so far as we as ignorant foreigners may presume to judge, what is the true [unwritten] constitution of Iran?This is a valid question, because Iran is a real country; it is recognizably the nation of Persia which has existed in its modern form since the sixteenth century.  What are its pillars of legitimacy?  First, Shia Islam.  From the Safavid takeover, Persia has seen itself as a Shia nation, and the champion of Shia Islam.  The ulama have have always had a distinct place in the Persian state which is unique to the Muslim world.  In Persia, the clergy are a distinct corporate body established in the state and society.  Second, there was the Safavid dynasty.  The constitution has obviously evolved in the last century.  The Pahlavi dynasty rejected its role as repository and worked to transform Iran into a secular Western country.  Iran was in crisis; the two pillars of the constitutional order were in conflict, and one of them (the monarchy) had transformed itself beyond recognition and betrayed its original mission.  Under the circumstances, the only way for Iran to maintain its identity was to throw its support to the other pillar, the ulama.  Hence the Islamic Revolution of 1979.  It has a better claim to be a conservative revolution, a revolution “not made but prevented”, than either England’s Glorious Revolution or America’s War of Independence.

2 Responses

  1. The contradictions of the liberal mindset Wrangel brought up also affect us, I think. It’s the same problem mentioned in the post on the irony of particularism. As a Christian, I should be vehemently opposed to Islamic theocracies and prefer secularist Arab régimes inasmuch as the latter are more tolerant of Christianity. However, as a traditionalist the Islamic governments are obviously far better aligned with my political ideals.

  2. It has a better claim to be a conservative revolution, a revolution “not made but prevented”, than either England’s Glorious Revolution or America’s War of Independence.

    That’s kind of like saying that the Earth has a better claim to be a planet than does a grain of sand or a cow fart.

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