With everything so in flux in "the Arab world" it's hard to form a coherent thought that hasn't been expressed much more expertly elsewhere. I guess the main point to realize is that these protests mark the end of the stability that the Cold War superpowers imposed on the region. America has three goals in the Middle East:

1. Protect the flow of oil. Necessary not just for America, but for the world economy.

2. Protect our ally, Israel.

3. Mitigate the influence of our enemies. For a long time this meant opposing Soviet influence, but now our enemies are Iran and various supranational Islamofascist groups.

These goals were a lot easier to achieve when we had local dictators than they will be if we have to deal with a host of new democracies -- especially if Islamofascist elements wield significant power in whatever new governments emerge.

Modern Russia shares at least goals one and three with America, and they seem to have decided to side with the dictators.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday predicted decades of instability in the Arab world if protesters whom he called fanatics come to power, adding no such scenario will be permitted at home. ...

Speaking at a security meeting in the Caucasus city of Vladikavkaz, Medvedev didn't name countries, but he was referring to the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa — which has brought down governments in Tunisia and Egypt and sparked protests in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, Morocco and Jordan.

"These states are difficult, and it is quite probable that hard times are ahead, including the arrival at power of fanatics. This will mean fires for decades and the spread of extremism," Medvedev said in televised comments.

He's right, but that doesn't mean that he's choosing the side that will eventually win. Stability is ephemeral.

Also interesting: "Why do protests bring down regimes?".

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