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Freedom may be messy, but it beats despotism

The Arab Spring toppled dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Yemen and Syria may be next. Though trials remain, we are witnessing an extraordinary fight for freedom. What emerges may not be the kind of democracy Westerners want, but it beats tyranny.

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It’s been a bad year for despots. The Arab Spring swept them out of power in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Who’s next? And what kind of democracy will the Arab world embrace?

The most discussed prospects for the next toppling are the leaders of Syria and Yemen. Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, was once touted as a Western-educated possible convert to democratic reform. He has turned out to be as murderous as his father who ruled before him. A rebellion there is protracted, but protesters appear determined. Now the Arab League is working on a plan for free elections in Syria and the withdrawal of tanks and armored vehicles from the streets.

Meanwhile Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose cunning has kept him in power for more than three decades, is besieged but reneging on deals to leave. All-out civil war threatens.

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