The Region: Revolutions, walk-outs and fatwas
There have been major developments in Tunisia, Lebanon and Egypt, each of which is of tremendous importance.
In Tunisia, a popular uprising fueled by unemployment, economic suffering and long-term discontent has overthrown the dictator, but not necessarily the dictatorship. In 55 years of independence, the country has been governed by two dictators, the current one being Zine al-Abedin Ben Ali, who has been president for 23 years and was a key power in the regime even before that.
Is this going to spread? Does it mark some new phase in Arab politics? Probably not. Tunisia is a very distinctive country. It has been the most Europeanized state in the Arab world, due in part to the secular-oriented policies of the regimes. There has been an Islamist movement, but the regime has kept it weak, perhaps making Tunisia the Arabic-speaking state with the lowest proportional support for Islamism among its population.