28 February 2011

Pretenders to the former monarchies of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya

It has been fascinating to witness through the media how the unrest in Tunisia, which ended with the fall of the dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has spread to other Arab countries this winter. President of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was the next one out, and it is today obvious that it is only a question of time before the regime lead by the "Guide of the Revolution" and de facto head of state, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, goes into history too.

As of today most Arab monarchies seem to be safe, including the monarchy of Morocco. The weekly magazine Time published an interesting article on the subject on 22 February 2011, Protests in Morocco: Just Don't Call It a Revolution. But it is impossible to predict what could happen in the weeks and months to come.

Monarchists and "royalty watchers" are discussing the possibility of a restoration of the throne in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya in various forums. I sincerely doubt that there is any considerable support of restoration in any of these countries, but the pretenders might play a role in their respective homeland if they should wish to.

As far as I know the former King of Egypt, (Ahmed) Fouad II, has not publically commented on the events in his home country since the Mubarak regime was toppled. He doesn't seem interested in the question of restoration at all, but its idea has at least some supporters, and two Facebook groups have been created, Restore the Egyptian Monarchy and King Fouad II. The Wall Street Journal's online version had an interesting interview with the former king last year, by the way.

I have not read any news about the pretender to the Tunisian throne, who according to the Royal Ark is Prince (Sidi) Muhammad Bey, b. 1928, but there could of course be articles in Arabic on the subject.

But the pretender to the Libyan throne, Crown Prince Sayyid Muhammad, b. 1962, a grand-nephew to the last King, Idris I, has got some media attention lately, including giving an interview to the TV channel Al Jazeera last week. He didn't rule out the question of restoration, but wisely enough wanted to focus on how to stop the bloodshed. He appeared to be a well-meaning and sympathetic man, although somewhat powerless. It is difficult to say how well-known he is in Libya and how large his contact net is, but if he really wants to build up a support base he needs to travel to the Eastern part of Libya, now controlled by the opposition, and start from there. The Sanussi dynasty has its roots in the Eastern part - Idris was Emir of Cyrenaica before he became King of Libya. Regardless of the chances of restoration, it is nice to see that the flag of the Kingdom of Libya now has become a symbol of freedom and will most likely replace the current flag in due time.

Updated on Monday 28 February 2011 at 23.00 (typo corrected).


1 comment:

  1. I agree that if Prince Muhammad wants to have a chance (and I have no idea if he does) he should to seize the moment and show up in Benghazi immediately and present himself as a figurehead for the resistance. Otherwise, it is hard to see him having any credibility later. (On the other hand, I am no Libya expert, but a keen student of revolutions.)