The revolts known collectively as the Arab Spring are largely reactions of alienated populations to the closed economic and political systems that prevail in the Middle East. Revolutions in individual countries have differed because of the differing status of the military, sectarian divisions, and mineral wealth. The prospect of peaceful political change reduces the appeal of extremist ideologies, but extremists still could make inroads to the extent that high popular hopes are dashed. Democracy will need a long time to take root in Arab political cultures.

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