Revolutions can be short and bloody, or slow and peaceful.

Each is different, though there are recurring patterns - including some that were on show in Egypt. Trotsky once remarked that if poverty was the cause of revolutions, there would be revolutions all the time because most people in the world were poor. What is needed to turn a million people's grumbling discontent into a crowd on the streets is a spark to electrify them. Sometimes the desperate act of a single suicidally inflammatory protester like vegetable salesman Mohammed Bouazizi in Tunisia, in December 2010, catches the imagination of a country. Sclerosis Longevity of a regime and especially the old age of a ruler can result in a fatal incapacity to react to events quickly. Revolutions are 24-hour-a day events - they require stamina and quick thinking from both protesters and dictators. An elderly inflexible but ailing leader contributes to the crisis. Will the successful Tunisian revolt or Egyptian unrest lead to more democratic, stable, and moderate regimes? Or is it the beginning of dangerously unpredictable events in the Arab world that could endanger peace or lead to an ascendance of Islamic regimes? It is next to impossible to predict the course of mass activism and protests in these volatile environments. But there are reasons to think that the fall of authoritarian regimes by mainly young and frustrated protesters will not necessarily lead to a catastrophic outcome. The protesters are mainly young people who have personal and national aspirations, which they believe they can never achieve under authoritarian and corrupt rule. Contrary to the impression Islamic fundamentalism has created in the last decade, most young Arabs do not want to live an isolated, restricted, and medieval existence circumscribed by religion. They want to be educated, enjoy social mobility, have a reasonable hope of a good future and a measure of self-esteem, and to be treated with dignity. Most young Arabs want modernization and a strong economy that would provide jobs, nice cars, and some version of a Western-style, less restrictive social life. The Arab-Muslim world has been facing social and political tensions ever since modernization got under way in the region. However, after more than a century, this partial modernization never enabled Arab nations to really catch up with the West. It did lead to elevated aspirations and increased pressure on youths to succeed in education, launch careers, and gain wealth. But it did not provide sufficient opportunity for these aspirations to be realized To date, there have been revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt; a civil war in Libya; civil uprisings in Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen; major protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, and Oman, as well as on the borders of Israel; and minor protests in Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Western Sahara. The protests have shared techniques of civil resistance in sustained campaigns involving strikes, demonstrations, marches and rallies, as well as the use of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to organize, communicate, and raise awareness in the face of state attempts at repression and internet censorship.

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