King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who in Gulf Arab terms is a real progressive, remains widely popular, but his government bureaucracy is seen as unresponsive and too often corrupt. That’s why Saudi Twitter users have recently created these Arabic hashtags: “#If I met the King, I would tell him”; “#From the people to the King: education is at risk” and “#What Would You Like to Say to the Minister of Health?” (after repeated hospital mishaps).
The images in Egypt are excruciating to behold, both in a literal and philosophical sense. In what appeared to be more of a direct military assault than a police-style crowd-clearing exercise, Egyptian forces reportedly killed nearly 150 people, most of them supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi who were engaged in nothing more offensive than a series of sit-ins. Suddenly, in one awful day, the exercise of the democratic rights and ideals that are so dear to America’s self-image–and which have formed the heart of U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War–were rendered all but irrelevant to many Arabs, especially because of Washington’s mild response