Across the Middle East, autocrats continue to be shaken to their roots.
From Tunisia and Egypt, the "bug" of democratic aspiration has now spread to Bahrain and Libya. In each country, events are being played out quite differently.
After a period of intense repression unleashed by the Bahraini Sunni monarchy on its Shiite-majority population, there appears to be a pause -- for now. The king seems to have engaged in a strategic retreat, but many among the protesters are unwilling to be mollified by promises of mere reform.
"The thousands of encamped demonstrators [in the main square in the capital Manama] demand nothing short of fundamental change to the kingdom's autocratic political order," Cortni Kerr and Toby C. Jones write for Middle East Report Online. "The wounds from the direct assault at dawn on February 17 are deep."
Libya, for its part, is being subjected to the madness of a tyranny in its death throes. Muammar Qaddafi's Libya is an outlier -- very much an exception to the nonviolent uprisings all over the region -- in the same way that Ceausescu's Romania was to the nonviolent changes in Eastern Europe. Even in Libya, the initially nonviolent approach of the protesters has caused deep fissures (police and army units have crossed over) and resignations within the regime (including the interior and the justice ministers). While the revolt could still go either way, Qaddafi has already lost control of a large section of his country -- and his population.
In Yemen and Algeria, protests are continuing. Pressure is mounting on Yemen strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, while in Algeria the government is trying to appease the population by announcing the removal of draconian emergency laws.
And in a wonderful example of how a good idea has endless resonance, Iran's Green Movement -- which formed in 2009 in response to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's questionable re-election -- has been reenergized by happenings in the neighborhood. Tens of thousands have turned out in recent protests, surprising the world by the movement's tenacity.
At the vortex of the storm sits Saudi Arabia, the fountainhead of regression in the Middle East. But even the Saudi monarchy is feeling the heat, trying to stave off change by extending support to other Arab despots.
"As pro-democracy uprisings spread across the Middle East, the rulers of Saudi Arabia -- the region's great bulwark of religious and political conservatism -- are feeling increasingly isolated and concerned that the United States may no longer be a reliable backer, officials and diplomats say," reports the New York Times.
The U.S. response to the crackdowns has been predictable -- full-throated denunciation when conducted by adversaries such as Libya and Iran, significantly more muted when done so by an ally such as Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain or Yemen.
"The Obama Administration is trapped in its own rhetoric, urging the Al Khalifa [ruling Bahraini family] to pursue 'meaningful reform' and rebuking the regime for its violence, but stopping well short of the condemnatory language it employed to denounce similar repression in nearby Iran," write Kerr and Jones.
There is no telling how all of this will play out. Even in Tunisia and Egypt, where it all started, the transition regimes have sent out very contradictory signals about their ultimate intentions.
But one thing is certain. The Middle East -- and the world -- will never be the same again.
If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of The Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "Gene Sharp's Nonviolent Impact."
Follow Amitabh Pal @amitpal on Twitter.