The Middle East's Jittery Monarchies
A Good Piece
By RANNIE AMIRI
".....It seemed unusual for this North African nation—far removed from the troubles plaguing Gaza and Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan—to sever ties with a distant country like Iran. So why did it do so? According to Rabat, it was over an Iranian official who questioned Bahrain’s “sovereignty,” and the “threat” posed to Morocco’s stability by Tehran’s alleged attempts to spread Shia Islam there.
These apparently unrelated grievances put forth by the Moroccan government are indicative of the anxiety and pressure many Middle Eastern monarchies are increasingly feeling these days (especially in the aftermath of the Gaza war). In order to deflect attention away from the (il)legitimacy of their rule, the old canard of “Persian” interference is once again being employed.......
But what underlies Morocco’s and other Arab countries’ paranoia of Shia Muslims?
The answer can be found in both modern and ancient Islamic history. It was Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979 which deposed fellow monarch, and many would say tyrant, Shah Reza Pahlavi. It is therefore perceived that Shia Muslims (always conflated with Iranians), have an inherent tendency to overthrow ‘the established order.’.......
The Kingdom of Morocco cut diplomatic ties with Iran because a kindred monarchy that subjugates and controls its citizens through a family-run security apparatus was challenged, both from within and abroad, and this was deemed unacceptable. Iran did not question the sovereignty of Bahrain but did implicitly question the legitimacy of the Al-Khalifa’s to govern based on policies that exclude the participation of a majority of its citizens. As Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak has done, King Mohammad VI of Morocco—the self-appointed “Commander of the Faithful”— raised the Shia bogeyman for his own domestic purposes.
Israel’s war on Gaza, and the complicity of the Arab world’s U.S.-backed monarchs and dictators in it, exposed the cavernous divide between them and the people they rule. To divert attention away from the ill-effects their own subservience has wrought, they believe redirecting this hostile energy onto Iran, fomenting historical Arab-Persian animosity, hyping sectarianism and scapegoating Shia Muslims will afford them some breathing room. Similar tactics are also evident in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
But the walls are fast closing in. All the above actions are the hallmarks of evaporating authority. By undertaking such desperate measures, these Mideast leaders are telling us the days of monarchy and perpetual dictatorship are coming to an end."