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Whither the Arab Spring? 1989 or 1848?


Potential Arab democratic transitions will face more substantial obstacles than Eastern Europe did in 1989. Those obstacles include the intense securitisation of the Middle East, the absence of agreed upon models for future polities and economies, the residual power of authoritarian systems, and the limited capacities of newly emerging political and civil societies. Even the poster children of the Arab Spring, Tunisia and Egypt, are not well equipped to imitate the success of Eastern European countries. The Arab Spring of 2011 may thus be more akin to the 1848 failed revolutions than to the democratic transitions set in motion by the crumbling of the Soviet Union in 1989.