Tom Kutsch takes stock of the stick and carrot measures implemented by Arab regimes fearful of uprisings like the ones in Tunisia and Egypt:
Syria and Libya acted preemptively, arresting activists likely to organize any street protests, saturating public places with security forces. In these countries, even a rally of a dozen people is treated like a threat to the status quo. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran combined rank hypocrisy with his trademark brutality, congratulating "the justice-seeking movement in Egypt" while silencing Iranian protest leaders and dismissing their planned solidarity march as "divisive."
Whether shrewder or more fearful, other Arab leaders offered some wilted carrots. Jordan's King Abdullah dismissed his cabinet and appointed a new prime minister, pretending yet again that reform doesn't require constitutional limits on absolute monarchy but merely a shuffle of his minions. Bahrain's King Hamad, following the Kuwaiti example, took the hush money approach, offering more than $2,600 per Bahraini family (Kuwaitis got $3,580 each). The most serious gesture was the promise by the Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika to end decades of emergency rule which, as in Egypt and Syria, allows the government to ban public assemblies at will and detain people without charge indefinitely with virtually no judicial oversight.
None of these measures address the fundamental popular demands in these countries for the chance to live in freedom.
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