This opinion piece of different Arab views and perspectives on the ‘Arab Spring’ and its significance and repercussions in the Arab Gulf region comprises three papers: ‘Repercussions of the Arab movements for democracy on the Saudi street’, by Mohammed Iben Sunitan; ‘Arab Spring … fleeting or perpetual?’, by Jasem Khaled Al-Sadoun; and ‘Repercussions of the Arab movements for democracy in Bahrain’, by Ali Mohammed Fakhro. Iben Sunitan posits a framework for a reading of the repercussions of the current movements on the Arab street in Saudi Arabia in a brief but highly informative account of the various Saudi opposition groups since the inception of the state under King ‘Abd al-’Aziz bin Sa'ud. The author details the various strategies that have been employed by Saudi monarchs for dealing with or assimilating various opposition groups that have appeared and he examines the new dynamics of a situation in which the youth figure prominently and the house of Al Sa'ud is at a crossroads where it must successfully adapt to the new objective conditions and atmosphere engendered by the climactic and momentous events of 2011. Al-Sadoun deals with numerous issues that pertain to the Gulf region in general such as age demographics, unemployment, economic issues, and the question of what he terms the dichotomy of ‘projects of rule’ as opposed to modern ‘projects of state’, where the former have tended to characterize the Arab world at the expense of both efforts to modernize and democratize. In the global context al-Sadoun sees hope for democratic transition provided that various Gulf rulerships and governments arrive at the conclusion that voluntary democratic reform is considerably less costly than suppression of the popular will. With regard to Tunisia and Egypt – despite serious socio-economic challenges in the latter – he sees promise in the models of Malaysia and Turkey. Fakhro deals with the particular situation in Bahrain characterized by ‘missed opportunities’ as well as regional military intervention, where peaceful demonstrations with initial moderate, legitimate demands pertaining to parliamentary representation and housing concerns that started in public areas such as the Pearl Roundabout were handled ineptly by the government, which chose to deal with them by force from the outset. Both sides crossed ‘red lines’ as demands escalated and demonstrators were gunned down not far from the royal palace. The King has called for an unconditional national dialogue; and while the situation has apparently calmed down for the moment, there remains grave concern over the future course of events. All three articles provide useful information and insight into the socio-political and economic dynamics of opposition movements in the Arab Gulf and the nature of their interaction with different types of political authority where it remains to be seen whether or not the prevailing climate of the ‘Arab Spring’ will persist in bringing about structural and genuine democratic reforms or whether protests will ultimately dissipate or assimilated through traditional means.

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