The next generation of leaders will revolutionise Middle East

(Clockwise from top left) Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Saudi's King Salman, Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
(Clockwise from top left) Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Saudi's King Salman, Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said. PHOTOS: REUTERS, AFP, EPA-EFE, MICA

Economic and social renewal is expected with each change of leadership, and those who succeed these leaders will transform the region's politics.

There is now a consensus that any political transformation of the Middle East - a long-cherished goal of both US policymakers and millions who live there - will not be achieved by revolution, foreign intervention or civil war. The failure of the Arab Spring, the disastrous consequences of the US-led invasion of Iraq, and the ongoing catastrophe in Syria have shattered fantasies of sudden change.

It is more fashionable these days to pin hope on demographics and technology, the theory that a massive cohort of young people armed with smartphones will succeed where all other efforts have failed.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 02, 2018, with the headline 'The next generation of leaders will revolutionise Middle East'. Print Edition | Subscribe