In Egypt, likewise, there have been moments of prerevolution déjà vu. Security forces tried to break up an overnight reform rally in Tahrir Square, truncheons flailing as if the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak weeks earlier had never occurred. A military council has taken interim control – despite some calls for a predominantly civilian five-member presidential council – but has yet to say exactly when it will end Egypt's 30-year-long state of emergency, nor offer a precise timetable for making a new constitution and electing a new parliament and president.
"Part of this moving forward is, 'Where are we, really, now?'" asks James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute (AAI) and author of "Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us, and Why It Matters." "If all that happened was Ben Ali is gone, the party is dissolved, and the military is in control of Tunisia; or Mubarak is gone, his party is hollowed out a bit, but the military is still in control – then maybe nothing happened at all."
The "Shoe-Thrower's Index" of Arab unrest, published by The Economist in February, suggests that the spread of such upheavals may have been inevitable. It weighted several factors such as prevalence of youth, years of unchanged government, and corruption and lack of democracy indices. Top of the list for "potential for unrest" was Yemen – which scored almost 90 out of 100. Libya was next with 70, Egypt slightly lower in a tie with Syria and Iraq.
People have taken to the streets to demand a say in government, for an end to state repression, and for jobs and improved living conditions that have left jobless up to one-quarter of the region's youth – a bubble of 15-to-29-year-olds that, by one count, at 100 million strong, makes up a third of the Arab population.