It is midterm time for Arab revolutions, which started right after Tunisian Mohammed Bu’azizi torched himself in protest last December. In Egypt, the beating death of Khaled Said had already shocked the country and planted the seeds of January 25. I grade them here according to performance:
Egypt B: Mubarak is gone but too soon for an A or A- (I never gave above A-).
Tunisia B: Still a struggle, and too soon for an A-.
Libya C+: So much to go. We don’t even know who will emerge among the rebel leaders. Some of them were with Qaddafi until recently.
Yemen C+: Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to leave, but is backtracking
Bahrain C: The regime had to import foreign occupation forces to suppress its people. Too early to tell. The al-Khalifa clan (some Bahrainis consider the treasonous for importing foreign forces), Saudi occupation forces, and imported mercenaries from Pakistan and Jordan and other places are ruthless.
Syria C: Still ongoing, although analysts bet the regime will survive (they also mostly thought Bin Ali and Mubrak would survive at the beginning of their revolutions). It is not clear to me who is leading the Syrian uprising, who will dominate. They are against the regime, but what do they stand for? Syrians are traditionally a tolerant secular people, but it is hard to assess how 50 years of Ba’ath dictatorship has affected that (since 1963, before the Assads). There seem to be several factions: various secularists (including exiled Ba’athists), various Muslim Brothers, Salafis. It is not clear how much commitment any of these groups has for democracy. You can scratch the Salafis out as far as democracy is concerned: they believe in it even less than the Ba’ath Party does. We are talking Taliban here. Yet the ruling Ba’ath dictatorship, like other despots in Egypt and Tunisia and Algeria and Bahrain, are chiefly responsible for the growth of fundamentalism.
Saudi Arabia F- (get my point?): Pathetic: only one guy was brave enough to come out into the street of Riyadh and talk to foreign media and protest the heavy security. Khaled al-Jehany said his country was like a big prison. Now he has been in a small cell in a smaller prison ever since. Regime and its palace Salafi shaikhs have most people terrified of prison and torture in this world and hell in the other world. Yet there are many brave men and women in the Arabian Peninsula, for many are in prison and in exile.
UAE F: (a few guys thrown in prison by the al-Nahayan was enough to shut everybody up in this new police state).
Oman C: (for trying).
Algeria: D. Jordan: C-. Morocco: C
Qatar: “WTF is an uprising?”
(Lebanon and Iraq: is it just an illusion, or do Iraq and Lebanon seem like the most stable, most democratic, most free Arab countries now)?