NEW YORK – The widely held view in the West that the Arab Spring marks a clear step toward freedom and democracy in the Middle East now looks premature. The idea was probably based partly on wishful thinking, which overlooked the power realities actually shaping events. Even a year on, it is impossible to reach a definite conclusion – the situation is still too confusing, and the new leaders too unknown.
Indeed, where new leaders have taken over, they have been unable to deliver what people were hoping for when they went to the barricades. So, while a true “Arab Summer” has yet to materialize (on the contrary, a few of the region’s autocratic rulers appear to be enjoying an Indian summer), there is a growing risk, at least in some countries, of a “Winter of Chaos.”