Power Players in the Middle East: Who’s In, Who’s Out

Determining who has the biggest influence is a selective process that, no matter how neutral one tries to be, ends up being biased. Forbes recently released all manner of “Most Powerful People of 2012” lists, and the general criteria seems to be money: CEO’s and business leaders abound, although the majority of those who aren’t in business are politicians. Fair enough. TIME magazines “100 Most Influential People in the World,” released back in April, was a little less serious and more personal. For example, one of the top 100 was a woman named Maryum Durani, an Afghani woman newsbroadcaster in the Kandahar region. While she is important in terms of women’s rights, her sway barely extends in her own country, much less around the globe (an important criteria, I feel, for what constitutes an ‘influential’ person).

On the Forbes Most Powerful of 2012 list, which included both men and women, not a single Arab woman was included. As such, there were only a mere handful of Arab men, with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud leading the pack at #6 on the list. Not too shabby, your highness! Also fairly high-ranking were Ali Hoseini-Khamenei, the grand ayatollah of Iran (influential, yes, but not in a good way) and Ali Al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister (ranked at #31, thanks to America’s obsession with oil). As for the Arab women on the “Most Powerful Women” list, only Shiekhas with royal heritage were accorded any honor, including Qatar’s

Shiekha Mayassa Al-Thani (ranked #100 at the age of 29? Quite impressive) and Shiekha Lubna al-Qasimi, the UAE’s minister of foreign trade (a woman in an international role, yes!) and Shaikha Al-Bahar, the CEO of Kuwait’s National Bank.  

In light of these highly selective lists, I decided to add a few more (men and women) influencers I felt should have been included, and just for fun also included a list of people in the Middle East who’s power is either long gone or on the brink. Let’s take a look:

The Influencers:

Egypt’s President Mohammad Morsi

Why should people outside of the Middle East care about him?

Because, despite it’s diminished power and prestige, Egypt is still at the forefront of the Middle East (a.k.a. the next emerging superpower).

What Morsi does while in office doesn’t just crucially determine Egypt’s future in the next 100 years, it also affects the rest of the Middle East. Although protests in Tunisia ignited the Arab Spring flame, it was Egypt that fanned the flames and stoked the fire and thus produced a revolution like no other. “Mother Egypt” still sets the standards in the Arab world, even if Saudi Arabia and the Gulf kingdoms carry the bulging purses. And what happens in the Arab world affects the rest of the world now, since we’re in the Age of Globalization, people!

Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia. Sourced from theblaze.com
Why should people outside of the Middle East care about him?

 The Muslim caliphate hasn’t existed since the early twentieth century (thanks Turkiye) so there’s not one official Islamic religious leader for all Muslims. That being said, a Grand Mufti is pretty much the next closest thing. He’s the religious leader in Saudi Arabia, home of the holy city of Mecca, and therefore his word counts a lot. He also sways the royal family (whether they like it or not), so in a way you could say he’s a force behind King Abdullah,who is as aforementioned highly ranked in the scheme of important people).

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran

           Why should people outside of the Middle East care about him?

Because the potential of a nuclear disaster grace a Iran would obviously affect the entire planet, physically, economically, emotionally…

I’m not sure how he escaped being included on the Forbes list, especially since Iran is rumoured to have billions of dollars hiding away in banks. The man has Israel all in a twist with his nuclear project (the rest of the world should be biting it’s nails, too, and figuring out what his-perhaps cruel-intentions are). He runs a nation of smart, educated (although after slicing which degrees women can earn at university by 90%, maybe not so more educated) people who are, according to my National Geographic map, “neither Arab nor East nor West.” Yeah, he’s influential.

The Losers:

Egypt’s defense minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi

Egyptians everywhere were cheering when President Morsi asked Tantawi to step down from office (aka retire). Tantawi was part of the old Mubarak regime, and effectively upped the military’s powers when governing the country was handed over to the military until a legislative body and president could be elected. Tantawi looked like he was not going to give up the reins, and Morsi has now made doubly sure that the traces of the old military are gone. Hey, everyone needs to retire sometime, and Tantawi, being involved with Mubarak and the atrocious handling of the January 25th Revolution, was essential to replace.

Bashar Al-Assad, President of Syria

Even if this egotistical, out-of-touch madman manages to hold onto his country for another year of rebel fighting, he is still going down. His international reputation is forever tarnished, and I think it would be safe to assume that even his supporters are getting tired of being cooped up in their houses in a country that’s a major emergency zone. While Bashar’s former level of power wouldn’t have even brought him in flirting distance of the Forbes 100 Most Powerful People list, he was nevertheless a world leader who will go down in infamy thanks to his megalomaniac killing of innocent civilians.

The men of Saudi Arabia

Saudi men–and the women they oppress. Sourced from BBC UK.
 Saudia women went to the Olympics for the first time in history. Saudia women finally were granted the right to vote in upcoming elections as well as work for a living. I have a feeling that this is only the beginning for Saudiya women. Now that they’ve caught the world’s attention-the Olympics was a perfect forum (non political, displaying pure women strength) for this-there will, I believe, be more focus on these resilient women. The Religious Police and every Saudi man who looks down on women don’t know what’s coming to them!

2. http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/08/12/231916.html

3. http://www.christianpost.com/news/saudis-top-religious-official-calls-for-destruction-of-all-churches-71506/#i9HaK4yUL5Kdd4lY.99


One thought on “Power Players in the Middle East: Who’s In, Who’s Out

  1. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch simply because I found it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your website.

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