In January and February 2011, Tunisia and Egypt respectively ousted their dictators Ben Ali and Moubarak. The roots of these revolutions were easily identifiable and explainable: high unemployment, poverty, corruption, lack of democracy. However, most historians, journalists, political analysts and politicians were surprised by these sudden upheavals. Who would not have been? This is a very interesting phenomenon where all the ingredients of a revolution are present in a country but where no one is able to determine if and when the revolution will take place. Yemen or Algeria are supposedly the next countries on the list because supposedly similar revolutionary factors are present there. Are politics the simple result of a mathematical equation?
Why Tunisia in January 2011? Why Egypt in February 2011? Everyone can read events with the benefit of hindsight. Isn’t it too easy or should we wait for us to have more information about, for example, the role of the army in Tunisia and Algeria? Should we apply the same criteria to other countries because they share the same Arabic culture? Obviously, diplomats in Yemen or Algeria need to take decisions and make recommendations for their government. They have to give a thorough analysis of the political situation and they have to envisage different scenarios. In February 2011, I am neither a diplomat nor a fortune-teller and I can’t say what will be next.