The spring has seen revolutions started through out the Middle East. Starting with Tunisia and then spreading to other nations including Libya, Egypt, Bahrain and Syria. There have been some improvements and also counter-revolutions, notably in Egypt for example. Egypt goes to the polls for the second round of voting to elect a new government that is not so dominated by the military command. Syria seems to be defying the general change throughout the region though.
Perhaps 5,000 people have been killed in Syria according to UN figures. Areas affected by the uprising seem to be the north west of the country. President Assad’s time must be numbered as there is a growing international focus on the country.
The real issue here is the speed of the political change that has been evident throughout 2011 and the fact that many of the countries involved have really been transformed, but not necessarily with better futures; more likely uncertain futures at least in the short-term. People power has transformed the region where food price rises has affected many people which has led to this “phase transition” of politics. The term phase transition can be borrowed from physics and is the point of rapid state change between physical states, such as liquid to gas or liquid to solid state. It is not a physical state change in the Arab Spring but more of a profound political change on par with the changes of Eastern Europe after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. A change from the dictatorships to something more democratic?
Whether or not the Arab Spring will continue to the second spring in 2012 remains to be seen and if so where will the changes be felt next? There is a possibility in Saudi Arabia, with the Sunni ruling family (the Al Saud), there is an uprising from the Shia majority. Today, according to the BBC, there was a killing of 4 Shia men from the security forces (see this link). With the threat of Iran getting involved and also changing the political game in the region with a nuclear threat then things could become rather unstable. There are old vested interests trying to cling on to power for as long as they can.