Toby Craig Jones:
In the mid-2000s, most of the Gulf kingdoms were keen to indulge the pretense of reform. They did more talking about reform than reforming — but even the talk is now passé. Back in vogue today are the police state and the counterrevolutionary tactics that prevailed in the 1970s. Indeed, the Arab uprisings and local unrest seem to have convinced rulers in the Gulf to offer less accommodation and wield more blunt force. It is arguable that, in the Gulf of the twenty-first century, crises are no longer undesirable, but rather have considerable political utility. In fact, given the arc of history — whereby the redistribution of oil wealth has failed to ensure regime stability or political quietism — the regional system may have arrived at a moment where political survival actually requires the manufacturing of permanent crisis at home and in the region.