Abbas Milani was in Morocco invited by his fellow Stanford colleague Prince Moulay Hicham (member of Morocco’s Royal Family) to debate at a Seminar about Arab reform and the challenges of political transitions from authoritarianism to democracy. (See Larger Photo Here)
(NOTE: See Transcript of another Stanford Seminar with participants Abbas Milani and Moulay Hicham titled ‘After the Revolution’ : Will citizen revolts lead to democracy or Islamic rule? Can freedom and religion coexist? Four faculty experts discuss the dreams and the dangers of the new Arab world. )
Morocco in North Africa and Jordan in the Middle East are not the only regional countries at historical and political crossroads due to the upheavals of what has become known as the “Arab Spring”. Yet they present a particularly interesting observatory for Constitutionalists given that both countries are Monarchies led by fairly young Monarchs educated in the West and therefore due to their upbringing aware of the legitimate democratic demands of their subjects. Although journalists have been subject to intimidation in recent months equally in Jordan (See Related News) as well as in Morocco (See Related News) accused of biased reporting on the unrests in their respective kingdoms, however In contrast to many other neighboring nations which happen to be Republics, these enlightened monarchs to date have refused to use violence to suppress dissent to their reign.
For contrary to the bloody events in republics like Syria, Libya or Yemen, the upheavals in these kingdoms have not demanded regime change but democratic reform.
Although largely welcomed by their people and foreign allies promises of sweeping constitutional reforms in both countries have not yet been translated in concrete terms. What is certain however is that if they do succeed these so called “obsolete” systems of government may well prove far more compatible with modernity than meets the eye and particularly suitable for peaceful democratic transitions. Only time will say if the bitter lessons of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 will well serve as a cautious reminder to these enlightened monarchs and may well save their kingdoms from crumbling to oblivion whilst satisfying their people’s demands for democracy and political self determination.
Abbas Milani with Steve Paikin: Why The Shah Matter:
The political and cultural clash Iran faces today has its origins in the reign of the Shah and his 1979 downfall. Abbas Milani joins the Agenda to discuss the ripple effects of The Iranian Revolution, and what it can tell us about current events in Egypt.
Prince Moulay Hicham, on France 24 English (Feb 20th, 2011):
Prince Moulay Hicham, cousin of King Mohammed VI on the situation in the middle east and Morocco
Prince Moulay Hicham on France 24 French (March 12th, 2011):
Prince Moulay Hicham, cousin of King Mohammed VI reacts to the King’s Reform Speech
Riz Khan - Morocco's Prince Moulay Hicham - 03 Oct 07:
A member and close cousin of the King of Morocco speaks about the necessity of having a purely Constitutional Monarchy
About the Authors:
MOULAY HICHAM BEN ABDALLAH, MA '97, is a visiting scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. A member of the Royal Family of Morocco, he has lectured and written extensively on Arab reform and the transition from authoritarianism to democracy.
ABBAS MILANI is the Hamid and Christina Moghadem Directorof Iranian Studies and a visiting professor in the department of political science. He is also co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution. Milani is an authority on U.S.-Iran relations and Iranian cultural, political and security issues. His most recent book is The Shah, a biography of the Shah of Iran.
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