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West Asia's kings will survive, believes US

As the Obama administration grapples with a cascade of uprisings in West Asia, it has come to a stark recognition: the region's monarchs are likely to survive; its presidents are more likely to fall.

world Updated: Feb 25, 2011 23:39 IST

As the Obama administration grapples with a cascade of uprisings in West Asia, it has come to a stark recognition: the region's monarchs are likely to survive; its presidents are more likely to fall.

In the region, two presidents have already tumbled: Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia.

Yet in Bahrain, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has so far managed to weather a surge of unrest. Officials believe that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is also unlikely to be dethroned, while the emirs of the Persian Gulf have so far escaped unrest.

This pattern of kings holding on to power is influencing the administration's response to the crisis: the US has sent out senior diplomats in recent days to offer the monarchs reassurance and advice - even those who lead the most stifling governments. But it is keeping its distance from autocratic presidents as they fight to hold power.

"The republics - and hence, the presidents - are the most vulnerable because they're supposed to be democracies but ultimately are not," said an Arab diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"They pretend people have a voice, but this voice doesn't exist. With the monarchy, no one's pretending there's a democracy."