The Assad regime has been adapting to the new challenges posed by mass uprisings through a process of “authoritarian learning,” and at least some of its methods are being applied elsewhere in the region.
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A long-ruling strongman president has been unseated by popular unrest and a negotiated transition is under way, but to many Yemenis this all appears to be a change more of appearance than of substance.
Qadhafi is gone after subjecting his country to a brutal dictatorship for more than four decades, but the devastated institutional landscape that he left behind bodes ill for Libya’s democratic prospects.
The Arab world’s old autocracies survived by manipulating the sharp identity conflicts in their societies. The division and distrust that this style of rule generated is now making it especially difficult to carry out the kind of pact-making often crucial to successful democratic transitions.