History in Reverse
by PATRICK COCKBURN
"Remember the euphoria early last year when long-established police states across the Arab world were tumbling down. Facile comparisons were made with the fall of communist states in Eastern Europe in 1989. Commentators spoke glibly of irrepressible political change in the age of the internet, social media and satellite television. Regime change from Tunisia to Bahrain and Damascus to Sanaa appeared easy and even inevitable.
Instead, history has gone into reverse as military governments clamber back into the saddle in Egypt or slaughter their people in Syria. In Bahrain, the al-Khalifa monarchy has crushed dissent and not much is new in Yemen, aside from the formal displacement of its old leader. Libya is in a state of semi-disintegration, while only Tunisia, where it all started, seems to be managing a successful transition to democracy......."