Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Arab dictatorships refers to the governments of most Arab countries which are considered, especially by democratic nations, to be in effect dictatorships because they are ruled by dictators or despots who oppose democracy. The Arab dictatorships consist of hereditary absolute monarchs (as in Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States), or self-appointed "presidents" who seized power in Coup d'états (such leaders of Libya and Syria) or a religious cleric (as in Sudan).
Most of the Arab dictatorships are in a very poor economic situation, due to various degrees of international economic sanctions, local corruption and tyrannical reign which is believed to suffocate personal enterprise. The human rights conditions in Arab dictatorships are often poor. Arbitrary arrests and executions, lack of due process, suppression of civic freedoms, especially of speech and political activism, remain common there.
Some Arab dictatorships have been accused of supporting terrorism by supplying money, people and weapons to terrorist organizations. Syria, for example, is accused by the United States of sponsoring Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad. Libya has paid compensation to the United States and the United Kingdom for the terrorist bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland. In return, international sanctions were lifted. Some Arab dictatorships, like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, are pro-western, advocating a foreign policy designed to conciliate, as much as possible, Western and especially American governments. Other dictatorships have often been accused of encouraging anti-Americanism as a means to divert popular discontent away from themselves.
After the Gulf War of 1990-91 and the liberation of Kuwait, calls for more democracy in Gulf Arab states intensified. The Kuwaiti parliament was resurrected as an elected body, and has been more assertive, though still under the suzerainty of the hereditary Emir. It is notable that the right of women to vote and stand for election has been proposed by the Emir but blocked by parliament. Saudi Arabia held limited-scale local and municipal elections in February 2005 to a Municipal Council where half the seats are appointed. Women are barred from voting or standing for election, although the government has promised to allow their participation in election scheduled for 2009. The dictatorship of Saddam Hussein ended with the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, and the first free multiparty elections took place on January 30 2005, though foreign troops remain in the country. In February of 2005, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak decided to allow multi-party presidential elections, instead of the old system where the largely rubber-stamp Parliament nominates the president who is then confirmed, as the lone candidate, in a referendum. It is unclear how free these elections, scheduled for September 2005, will be.
List of Arab dictatorships
- Egypt - president: Hosni Mubarak.
- Jordan - king: Abdullah II.
- Libya - Moammar Al Qadhafi.
- Saudi Arabia - monarchy with Wahhabi influence.
- Sudan - Lt. Gen. Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir
- Syria - president: Bashar Assad
- Tunisia: Pres.Zine El Abidine Ben Ali
- Morocco: King Mohammed VI
- Mauritania Pres. Walad Taya
- BBC: How democratic is the Middle East?
- From Atlantic online: What Went Wrong? (by Bernard Lewis)
- Professors for a Strong Israel: The democratic roadmap for the Middle East (Eli Pollak)
- The fantasy of democracy in an Arab state (Robert Fisk)
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