Revolutions are set off by dramatic events, yes — a stolen election in Iran in 2009, a self-immolation in Tunisia. But they also reflect longstanding economic depression, not to mention rising expectations and the temptations of comparison: the Internet meant Arab youth could now compare their own stunted rights with those of their Western counterparts. The generational difference between their wizened pharaohs and the Twitter-obsessed youth worsened the crisis, which may yet mark the end of the ancient paradigm of the Arab ruler, the wise strong sheik, el Rais, the Boss. A dictator who is regularly mocked by the young for his Goth-black dyed hair and surgically enhanced cheekbones, and whose entourage features as many nurses as generals, is in trouble — he has lost "the personal gift of grace."
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment