The Many Faces of the Arab Spring

The attack by a Western-led alliance on Muammer Gaddafi’s forces in Libya is driven largely by principled motives. So what explains Western leniency toward violent repression of pro-democracy protests in the Gulf states?

MADRID – The attack by a Western-led alliance on Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in Libya is driven largely by principled motives. Had it turned its back on the Libyan rebels, the West would have betrayed its very identity.

Of course, the same principles are not being applied to save the brutally repressed masses in Yemen or the Shia protesters in Bahrain. It is doubtful whether they will be extended to Saudi Arabia and Syria, let alone to Iran. Nor is it improbable that a protracted war in Libya would end by vindicating the warning of the region’s authoritarian rulers that the Arab Awakening is but a prelude to chaos.

These built-in contradictions are compounded by the domestic conditions in each of the Arab states, as well as by strategic constraints, all of which define the shades of this uneven Arab Spring.

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