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Where Next for the Arab Spring? Look At Networked Middle Classes Without Oil

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, March 21 2011

Philip Howard adds one more crucial variable to the discussion of the factors affecting the Arab Spring (see my "Egypt, Tunisia: Generation TXT Comes of Age?"): oil, or the degree to which a country's economy has or hasn't developed a middle-class not dependent on Texas Tea. Howard, whose book "The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Information Technology and Political Islam" offers a complex and nuanced (if dry and somewhat academic) taxonomy for analyzing the varied pace of democratization across the region, suggests that Jordan, Morocco, and Syria may be the closest to experiencing uprisings such as the ones that overthrew despots in Tunisia and Egypt. While noting that they each have complicated histories and unique domestic political profiles, "They also have sophisticated, tech-savvy publics, economies not dependent on fuel exports, and regimes that may try to rig elections in the next two years," he writes on the Oxford University Press blog.