Anniversaries are dangerous days and dangerous moments. There is often a lot of celebrating, a flash of attention and then the sun goes down and life goes on as before. We properly celebrate an accomplishment from the past without real thought or determination on how to preserve and build on the celebrated triumph.
So now we are in the run of anniversaries of the Arab Spring, where elections have been held in Tunisia and Egypt, disarray and uncertainty pervades Libya and the bloody battle continues in Syria. In places like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen there are different murmurs of dissent and muddle of just what direction the movements and the reforms will go forth.
Are the elections of Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt the teaching moments that shine on this first anniversary? Or is the true result that woman with the blue bra, being beaten in Cairo coupled with a ramp up on as sexual assaults on journalists? Is the complete confusion and uncertainty of Yemen the harbinger, or the frustrating stagnation of political movement in Lebanon? Or is another wave of self-immolations in Tunisia the true elements of the story?
Perhaps it is perfect symbolism that again people are lighting themselves on fire in Tunisia. That says the circle has now been completed. Back to the beginning, the first tipping points that Tunisia — whose previous impact in the modern Arab world was designed by its dictator to be quiet at best — found itself launching a political dynamic unlike any in the area’s history, since perhaps the first great wave of Islam swept over the region.
Yet there is a difference.
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