Although the wave of protests in Tunisia was set off by economic complaints, the true threat to stability in the Arab world is poor governance.
Recent events in Tunisia and Egypt have shown that protests driven by a range of socio-economic and political demands have a greater chance of achieving change than uprisings that are motivated by religious and political ideologies.
The Middle East is changing in fundamental ways and U.S. foreign policy must evolve to reflect these changes.
Egypt’s continuing unrest has furthered speculation about whether President Mubarak’s government will fall, who might act as a leader for the opposition, and what effect the upheaval will have on U.S.-Egyptian relations.
The uprising that started in Tunisia in late 2010 was not a completely new development, but rather a more dramatic example of the unrest common across the region, particularly in Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Jordan.
As a new national unity government in Tunisia struggles to gain support, political parties, civil society, and the military will play a critical role in determining whether the country can transition to a more democratic state or will fall back into its old political structure.
The ongoing protests in Egypt, marked by an emphasis on domestic issues, a lack of ideological rhetoric, and a record presence of youth, have created a real opening for broadened popular participation and reform.
Unlike in previous periods of unrest in Egypt, when economic and political demands were separated, the ongoing protests integrate calls for bread and butter domestic issues with demands for democratic reform.
Arab moderates must realize that they cannot limit their moderation to the Arab-Israeli peace process if they hope to remain credible in the eyes of a public demanding serious domestic reforms.
Egyptian authorities have banned protests and tightened security overnight to prevent demonstrators from repeating the rally on January 25, when thousands took to the streets of Cairo to denounce President Hosni Mubarak.