By Abdulhadi Khalaf, Giacomo Luciani
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Extra resources for Constitutional Reform and Political Participation in the Gulf
Modern elites in the Gulf monarchies emerged within sociopolitical structures that are dominated by the ruling families – a dominance guaranteed by British protective agreements. Their right to claim a political role has never been a natural prerogative of their positions in their communities. Theirs is an assigned role and their status is bequeathed. They are selected to provide support and to advise, rather than to represent. Individually, some intermediaries may have been powerful patrons of local networks, clans, villages or religious communities, but they were not allowed to speak for the “people” as a whole.
However, the ruler of Qatar made an unexpected move in 2003 when he announced his decision to discharge his son from the position of crown prince, and replace him with a younger son. There is no credible official explanation for the move, but it nevertheless represents a discontinuity in the expected order of things. E. ’ Compared to the other Gulf ruling families, Oman's ruling family, the Al Said, is small and without influence on the ruler. ”18 Since his assumption of power in 1970 after a palace coup against his father, Sultan Qaboos concentrated all power in his own hands.
In spite of their slow reactions, the ruling cores of the Gulf monarchies also seem aware that their regimes cannot continue to enjoy those privileges associated with their regional role throughout the Cold War era. At the outset, I must make clear three points. First, while each of the ruling families in the Gulf has its own form of family council, these councils wield no real power. Political powers exist outside the formal settings of these councils. Political powers, and the exercise of these powers, remain highly personalized and centralized around what I call the ruling core.