In the West the media focus is on Libya because our forces are involved so that is where all the press assets are engaged. Meanwhile there are ongoing civil uprisings against three other dictatorships going on right now, with the governments killing their own citizens in all three of them.
In Yemen yesterday most of the army and much else in the state moved over to the side of the rebels. President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had already promised not to seek re-election, now says he will be gone by the end of the year. It will be interesting to see how he manages that. Yemen is massively strategically important as it controls the entrance to the Red Sea through which much of the West’s shipping passes. It is the home for a proxy war between Sunni (Saudi Arabia) and Shia (Iran) Moslems. Worst of all for the West it is the home for the most virulent and active branch of Al-Qaeda who are now responsible for most of the terrorist activity against us, Anwar al-Awlaki is a very dangerous man indeed.
In Syria the unrest is centred round the town of Daraa and is escalating, with the police shooting protesters.
America has condemned Syria’s use of “disproportionate force”. Syria has been ruled under emergency laws for nearly 50 years as an oppressive hereditary dictatorship so there is a long way to go for the protesters to achieve freedom.
Bahrain is complicated because the oppressive dictators are Sunnis, receiving massive support from neighbouring Saudi Arabia whilst the oppressed majority who are protesting are Shiites. Further complication comes from the massive American naval base there and the resultant cosy relationship between the dictators and the American government. Anything could happen here but currently it is not very nice with peaceful protesters being shot and beaten up.
We live in interesting times. The Arab League has 22 member states, of which just 3 can currently be considered to be democracies. What will that number be in two years time?