"Middle East" turmoil?
That's how it's almost universally, described. Let's just remember that the two regime changes so far have occurred in North Africa. And the next mostly likely one will be there, too.
Middle East in Turmoil: Special Coverage
Above is WaPo's standing headline for its repository of region-related reports.
But my map shows Tunisia, Egypt and Libya to be in North Africa. Indeed, the most common short-hand descriptive for Egypt is "most populous country in Africa."
To be sure, unrest has been reported in every Mideast country. But nowhere in that region does a regime appear threatened - save perhaps Yemen, which has suffered a Somalia-like lawless status for years. The big Mideast players, the ones with geopolitical clout - Saudi, Iran, Syria, Kuwait, UAE - are relatively or very quiet.
There is more unrest in Morocco than Iraq. Iraq is a prime candidate, one would think, for radical change in this uncertain hour. Yet the Baghdad protest Friday was, by post-2003 Iraqi standards, a minor event.
Of course, it's early days (weeks). But in referring to upheaval in the region, we at least should be making clear that it's North Africa and the Middle East where the status quo appears fragile. And maybe wondering why it's more fragile - at least so far - in North Africa than, say, among ever-restless Palestinians or the swelling dissident movement in Iran.
Surely now would seem the time for the long-awaited uprising in Tehran. Yet I think waiting on that is as futile a hope as change in Pyongyang. It will come, but for now those regimes we find most odious and a global threat appear militarily secure. The blessings of liberty in this round of revolutionary change will, it seems likely, be limited to citizens of the weakest regimes (Mubarak ruled for 30 years, Gadhafi for 42), and not extend to the most powerful ones.
Notice, too, that Egypt and Libya, after the latter made amends, finally, with the U.S. in the 2000s, were U.S. allies. The regime change America and the world would most like to see in the region - in Tehran and Damascus, each exporters of terrorists mostly targeting Israel - appears to remain on indefinite hold.
I wish it weren't so, and I hope the uprisings do spur regime change in the Mideast. I'm just not betting on it.