In the end, however, the monarchies may all suffer from such meddling, for these regimes are only as strong as the weakest links in their chain. An especially brittle monarchy succumbing to pressure over Western involvement, Iran, or Israel could easily be the first domino to fall, undoing the illusion of invincibility that the Gulf monarchies have so painstakingly built to distinguish themselves from the floundering Arab republics next door.
By South Asian standards, politics in Bhutan remains exceptionally clean and gentle. The electoral commission forbids even serving beer or yak cheese, chili and rice at campaign meetings. Each night the sole national television channel shows respectful debates between candidates. Policy differences are slight, and parties vie in their adoration for the monarchy.
Southeast Asia has four monarchies, each with its own unique traits. Brunei is an absolute monarchy, while Thailand, Malaysia, and Cambodia have the constitutional form…It remains to be seen if these institutions will play a prominent role in shaping the future of their societies, and whether they will coexist with greater democracy and transparency.
Moroccans, it is said, revere the monarchy as an almost divine institution, and they expect the current Alaoui king, Mohammed VI, to be an active, engaged monarch, to lead the country and serve as the arbiter among its diverse interests, classes, tribes, and regions. The king, in turn, wants to rule, but not dominate, I was told, which is why he agreed last year to promulgate a new constitution sharply limiting his powers. Morocco, in short, isn’t like Tunisia or Egypt or Libya or the other countries turned upside down and inside out by the Arab Spring.