A number of you have been asking me on Facebook, Twitterand iReportabout my predictions for the Middle East ten years down the line.
I think we’re seeing the beginning of fundamental change in the Middle East. This is the region’s 1989. The big caveat, however, is that the Middle East is not Eastern Europe. So change will not happen on the scale or with the speed and scope that it happened in Europe.
There are going to be much slower transitions. The line forward is going to be much more meandering. Not all countries will be affected.
The key places to focus on are the non-oil-producing countries like Egypt, Tunisia and, to a certain extent, Jordan and Morocco. Those are the places where there is significant pressure for economic and political reform. There you can’t buy off the population easily, which is the typical strategy of the rich oil states.
The Middle East governments have used two methods of control – mass repression and mass bribery. The oil-rich countries use mass bribery. Countries like Syria use mass repression.