21 February 2011

Monarchy Still Popular

In Libya:

Security forces in Benghazi opened fire on Sunday on protesters storming police stations and government buildings. But in several instances, units of the military turned against them and sided with protesters.

By Monday, protesters had claimed control of the city, overrunning its main security headquarters, called the Katiba.

Celebrating protesters raised the flag of the country's old monarchy, toppled in 1969 by a Gadhafi-led military coup, over Benghazi's main courthouse and on tanks around the city.

"Gadhafi needs one more push and he is gone," said Amal Roqaqie, a lawyer at the Benghazi court, saying protesters are "imposing a new reality. ... Tripoli will be our capital. We are imposing a new order and new state, a civil constitutional and with transitional government."

From here.

The possibility of a restored monarchy in Libya is not hypothetical. There are monarchist factions who favor that approach and men who have claims to be the legitimate heir to the throne of Libya. The man who was the King of Libya when the monarchy was ended in 1969 (King Idris I), and his son, the then crown prince, his nephew Hasan as-Senussi, have died. Idris abdicated the thrown, but the deal in which he did so was not honored by the successor government of Libya. There are two living claimants to the Libyan throne, should the Libyan people want to reinstate the dynasty that was in place before the 1969 revolution: Muhammad as-Senussi, a son of Hasan as-Senussi whom was named as heir by his father shortly before his father's death in 1992, and Prince Idris al-Senussi, a relative of the late King Idris who took up arms against the regime in 1991 with U.S. backing and is an investment banker.

The Senussi royal family is the same one that produced the Mahdi who became a model for Frank Herbert's Dune series. King Idris I took formal power as Emir of Cyrenaica at the behest of the British in 1917, and was in exile presiding over insurgents from 1922 until 1951.

In Morocco, protests have been relatively muted as a result of reforms relative to his predecessor from the nation's king. Protesters in Jordan want governmental reforms, but don't want to oust the king, who has been seens as a reformer who advocated for the average person.

The coming royal wedding in Britain still attracts interest.

And, in Bahrain, a monarchy that has had a violent attack on protesters. It may be possible to convince the the people that there was a power struggle:

The situation in Bahrain is further complicated by a palace feud between the country's prime minister and his nephew, the country's king.

The police involved in Thursday's violence are answerable to the prime minister, and the force's reliance on Pakistanis and other foreign recruits has long been a source of tension in the country.

What remains unknown is whether King Hamad agreed to the action - he had apologized publicly for earlier police violence - and whether the crackdown would continue.

One possible resolution in Bahrain would be for the young king to overrule the country's prime minister of forty-one years in favor of the people and the Crown Prince appears to be positioning himself to step into that role:

On Saturday, it was Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the son of the king and deputy commander of the military, who ordered troops to leave the square.

"I stress, once more, that our duty is to preserve security and stability, to ensure that there is no discord and that the situation does not worsen," the prince said in a statement on Bahrain's national news agency. "Join us to calm the situation, so that we can announce a day of mourning for our lost sons."

(Although the apparent injection of Saudi Arabian forces into the situation casts doubt on this scenario). The tiny Arab island nation has a population and land area similar to Denver, and a large U.S. Navy presence. The U.S. has so far not involved itself on ongoing events there. The Crown Prince has been designated as the King's liason with Shiite opposition leaders.

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