"The year 2011 proved extraordinary in the Arab world. Assumptions about the weak appetite for freedom in Muslim societies was discredited as three veteran dictators—Tunisia’s Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Muammar Qadhafi—were toppled by popular movements. The fate of autocrats in Syria and Yemen hung in the balance. In other states, notably Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, sitting regimes have been shaken but applications of repression and largesse permit the rulers to continue
to reign. In Jordan, Morocco and Oman, skillful political maneuvering has tempered demands for reform. In Iraq and Algeria, the living memory of years of trauma and carnage has dampened the appetite for confrontation and protest."
Full piece, and related chapters by Larry Diamond and Michael O'Hanlon, et. al., may be ordered at the Foreign Policy Association website.