Even optimists are starting to have second thoughts about the Arab Spring, which is quickly turning into blood showers. The numbers of dead and injured are astounding and the prize so far is confined to three bad possibilities. An extension of a dictatorial corrupt regime such as the case in Egypt, the election of an Islamist party that the west don't understand nor trust, as the case is in Tunisia, or an endless insane killing as the case seem to be in Syria, Libya, and Yemen. This bleak picture is unfortunately true.
Consecutive American administrations based its policy in the Arab World, on the need for stable regimes that can maintain the critical oil supply, while ensuring the safety of Israel. The American partner in this policy has been corrupted and autocratic regimes that controlled their countries with iron fests.
The premise of stability was shattered on September 11. However, instead of reassessing our policies and trying to understand the cause and effect we started endless debate about an imaginary clash of civilization. None of our think tanks stopped to argue that in the age of the internet there is only one civilization with different levels of restrictions imposed on its inhabitants.
This year, our politicians were shocked, as usual, to discover that the people of the Arab World, wearing headscarf or jeans and sometimes both, demanded freedom and were willing to die for democracy. The so-called Arab Spring surprised the world and specially America.
In the case of Egypt, after a few days of confusion, the American government supported at least publicly handing Mubarak's power to the second in command, a junta of Egyptian generals. In Libya, our government participated in the physical removal of Gaddafi. In Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria Obama's administration shut in different degrees their eyes on the ongoing brutality.
Ten month after the initial spark, demonstrations are igniting once again in Tahreer square. The Syrian revolution that started peaceful is sliding slowly into an armed conflict, and Yemen is disintegrating. The Arab revolutions are moving to a next phase that is impossible to defined, but will clearly reshape the region and impact American interests for years to come.