Unprecedented convulsions across the Middle East, from Morocco to Iran, prompt three reflections:
First, these rebellions fit into the context of a regional chessboard, what I call the Middle East cold war. On one side stands the “resistance” bloc led by Iran and including Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Qatar; it seeks to shake up the existing order with a new one, more piously Islamic and hostile to the West. On the other side stands the status quo bloc led by Saudi Arabia and including most of the rest of the region (implicitly including Israel); it prefers things to stay more or less the way they are.
The former (but not Syria) have an agenda, the latter (except Israel) want primarily to enjoy the fruits of power. (Caged tigers, anyone? Or a private concert by Mariah Carey?) The former enjoy offering a vision, the latter can deploy guns, lots of them.