Sunday, October 30, 2011

Western pens for hire to praise Gulf potentates

Don't you ever think that only Arabs writers are for sale:  Western writers can serve oil potentates even better.  Look at this guy: I can tell he is making a career for himself already.  "For example, the principle of accountability is a central component of both democratic systems and traditional tribal systems in the Gulf. The relationship between the tribal leader and the people is one of reciprocity, built upon mutual trust and respect. The leader is expected to act generously and consistently on behalf of the people, earning their loyalty and support in return. Historically, this allegiance has been conditional on the leader fulfilling his end of the bargain — if the leader did not justify the people’s support, they would replace him. (i) 
Traditional tribal leadership was not only accountable, but also accessible. Access to leaders enabled broad-scale participation and transparency in governance. This concept is evident in the open-door policy that many rulers in the region maintain to this day. The majilis — or ‘sitting area’ — functions like a ‘town hall meeting,’ in which people can express their views and have their voices heard. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said of the Sultanate of Oman brought this open door policy on the road through his “royal meet-the-people tours.”
Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was likewise renowned for the time he spent out amongst the people, listening to their ideas and concerns.
Broad participation and dependence on popular support meant that tribal leaders traditionally ruled by consent. Achieving consensus through negotiation and mediation was the preferred approach to decision-making. Carrying this perspective into the realm of contemporary governance in the UAE, Shaikh Zayed said, “I am not imposing change on anyone. That is tyranny. All of us have our opinions, and these opinions can change. Sometimes we put all opinions together, and then extract from them a single point of view. This is our democracy.”
Since the era of independence, traditional tribal systems have evolved in many different directions. Nowhere in the Gulf (or around the globe) is there a nation that has mastered democracy. Yet longstanding democratic principles are present, if sometimes latent, throughout the region. Instead of “bringing democracy to the Gulf,” discussions should focus on allowing Arabs to proudly nurture the democratic principles that have long been a part of their own societies."  So if you run a dictatorship, how do you manage to sell it in the age of Arab uprisings? You hire people who are willing to say: these dictatorships are democratic, actually.  It is pretty Orwellian, if you ask me. (thanks Ahmet)