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The Arab Spring’s Unintended Consequences

DENVER – Yemen’s renewed violence is just the latest sign that the Arab Spring may be joining the list of those historical contagions that, in the fullness of time, did not turn out well. Indeed, its effect may be reaching countries in ways that we did not expect.

Israel, in particular, can be forgiven for curbing its enthusiasm over the effect of the Arab Spring on its own security. On August 19, Israel absorbed an attack in the Negev Desert, through an increasingly dangerous border with Egypt, which left eight civilians dead. Just a few weeks later, a mob attacked Israel’s embassy in Cairo, forcing the evacuation of Israeli diplomats and creating a major row with Egypt’s fragile interim government. In Syria, nobody is prepared to predict the outcome of what is turning into a bloody battle with sectarian overtones. And in Libya, while getting rid of Muammar el-Qaddafi is a good first step, democracy and the rule of law are, to be optimistic, years away.