When the Arab Spring began erupting late last year, most world leaders responded with a mixture of bewilderment and incoherence. Whether in Tunis or Cairo, Washington or Paris, heads of government seemed confused about how to react to the mass popular demands for democratic change. That, however, was not the case inside the palaces that house the reigning monarchs of the Middle East. There, the swelling political seas were met with a steady hand on the rudder. As they watched besieged presidents plead or do battle with their people, and as they observed Western leaders nudge and later withdraw their support from erstwhile allies, Arab kings stood determined to defend their realms from those who might wish to topple their regimes. They also decided to extend their efforts to contain the turmoil beyond the borders of their respective domains.
Months after the start of the revolts, the political panorama looks as confusing as ever. The West is still trying to come up with a coherent approach to the revolutions, staging bombing raids purportedly to stop the slaughter in Libya while doing close to nothing to stop the mass killings in Syria. In the countries still convulsing with revolution, the men who once thought they would rule their countries forever continue performing their grotesque dance, which consists of talking about granting concessions, while cracking down brutally on protesters.
However, in the monarchs' palaces of the Persian Gulf -- known to Arabs as the Arabian Gulf -- the air of confusion does not reign. There, the mostly Sunni leaders of the mostly oil-rich nations have a plan.