Leader: The new Arab revolt

Even the repugnant autocrats of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are worried.

On 17 December 2010, a fruit seller, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire in protest against the corruption endemic among Tunisia's elite. Within weeks, President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was gone after more than 20 years of despotic rule. In Egypt, as we go to press, President Hosni Mubarak stands on the brink; in Jordan and Yemen, urgent change is a priority. This is the new Arab revolt. The people are mobilising
in mass protests across the Middle East. New technology is aiding them: Twitter, Facebook, video cameras, blogs. Even the repugnant autocrats of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are worried. As they should be. In a special report, starting on page 23, we ask what comes next for the region, its people and the west.

This article first appeared in the 07 February 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The New Arab Revolt