Copeland: Syria is on the brink of civil war. Democracy is being undermined in Egypt. Is the Arab Spring over?
It is necessary to take a country-by-country approach to assess the bigger picture. To touch on a few of the significant indicators:
Substantial improvements, expressed in terms of reforms in favour of democracy, good governance, civil society engagement and respect for human rights, appear to have been achieved in Tunisia, with more modest gains in Egypt, Yemen and Morocco.
The jury is still out on Libya, but to date the elimination of Gaddafi has not delivered as advertised. There have been some real costs to popular welfare, with setbacks in public safety, education, health care, and infrastructure.
The situations in Algeria and Jordan, and most of the Gulf states are little changed.
The reformist wave has – for now – been rolled back in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Overall it is a very mixed picture. Relative to expectations, progress has been modest.
The spark, however, has not been extinguished.