There are three lessons for the region:
1. To get rid of a dictator, you need either Western intervention or the support of the armed forces.
Consider this simple list:
Dictatorships overthrown with Western forces taking the lead: Iraq, LibyaThat shows that it is not popular revolt that changes things in the region.
Dictatorships overthrown with the backing of the army: Egypt, Tunisia
Failed revolutions when these two factors are lacking: Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen.
Dictators must fight or die and concessions don’t help.
The Western view is that revolutions are prevented by moderation and compromise, steps that please the masses and thus discourage them from revolting. This is so deeply ingrained that Western observers simply cannot conceive that approach as anything but a natural law. In contrast, in the Middle East, the political philosophy has been based on the idea that force and intimidation prevail.
With one notable exception, where brilliant maneuvering and concessions (albeit often illusory ones) worked — Morocco — the Middle East has shown that its approach works locally. Even in Turkey, where democratic norms are observed, once in power the Islamist regime has gained ground through toughness and not through concessions. The prisons are full of its opponents.
The event in Eastern Europe that most impressed Arab governments was the assassination in Romania of dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena. They knew that this could happen to them. When combined with the lesson from the USSR — how Mikhail Gorbachev’s engagement in reforms brought him down — these events played a central role in destroying the 1990s era of toying with possible moderation. The “old-time religion” of toughness and repression was reaffirmed.
Nowhere has this proven to be truer than in Syria. Despite Western fantasies of moderation and reform from dictator Bashar al-Assad, there has never been the slightest chance of this happening. The whole Obama foreign policy toward Syria was demonstrably foolish.
More at: Pajamas Media