By Abdulhadi Khalaf, Giacomo Luciani
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A second issue concerns the nature of the state itself and whether the sources of its legitimacy, the nature of its institutions, the effectiveness of its organizations, the nature of its relationship with society, and finally the relationship between the itself and its rulers do not create obstacles to reform that might prove too difficult to overcome in its present form. While the number of reform measures being introduced is quite impressive, the effectiveness of these initiatives in actually bringing about real change is questionable.
To be assigned the role of an intermediary, whether for short or long periods, does not entitle one to political rights or privileges. The selection of intermediaries is closely guarded and in order to keep one’s intermediary position, one is expected to acknowledge in deeds his/her own subordination to the regime. This, in turn, offers the ruling core in each of the Gulf states ample opportunities to consolidate their position as the supreme patrons. For most of the time, the ruling cores of the Gulf monarchies have demonstrated their remarkable acumen in maintaining balance among intermediaries, whether recruited from traditional or modern corporate groups.
Their achievements are remarkable considering that they have also managed to consolidate the legitimacy of their rule, and to retain the loyalty and support of their social power base. This achievement is evident in the fact that the survival of their regimes has never been seriously questioned. 1- See, further, Heller, Mark and Nadav Safran. 1985. The New Middle Class and Regime Stability in Saudi Arabia, Harvard Middle East Papers, Cambridge, Mass; Lawson, Fred H. 1989. Bahrain: The Modernization of Autocracy.