Revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa

As I type this (1 AM GMT), the situation in Libya remains unclear: the drips of information suggest a regime nearing its end, but it may still try to die a violent death, taking down as many people with it as possible. The prospect in Bahrain is also uncertain. However, autocratic regimes have fell across the region, and while it is premature to predict what kind of government will emerge from the ashes of despotism, there is a chance, perhaps once in a generation, perhaps once in half a century, to establish a freer, a happier, a more prosperous, and above all a democratic state.

It seems democratization cannot be enforced and exported, as some American and British politicians believed, or feigned to believe, when the troops invaded Iraq in 2003. A domino theory assumed that once Iraq was democratized, then Syria and Iran would follow suit. Oddly it’s not Syria or Iran that has crumbled, but ‘our bastards’, former president Mubarak of Egypt, and the rehabilitated Colonel Gaddafi, who are gone or going now. If the current revolutionary movement spreads to Saudi Arabia, then the West has a very big problem. Could that happen? No one seems to be sure about anything nowadays.