I have for some time thought that in places like Egypt, and perhaps Libya, Western educated sons of current dictators may just be the ones that navigate their countries closer to democracy, partly because they have been educated in the Western world and understand the principles of democracy far better than homegrown groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, or the army establishment's top brass do or would.
But then again, I had the same hopes for Syria when Baby Assad took over from his father. Nothing of the sort has come from that ascension to the throne, perhaps because Baby Assad had not been properly groomed for the task, having been the second son, rather than the first born. But his older brother died suddenly in a car accident, shortly before Hafez Assad's death, and the shy unassuming ophthalmologist was catapulted into the job.
But with Saddam Hussein and his despotic, psychotic sons no longer in the mix, perhaps the time is now ripe. Some little stirrings of democracy have been seen in many parts of the Arab world since the fall of Baghdad. Inch by inch, one son at a time, perhaps we will see democracy emerge.
All of which, makes me wonder what Mahmoud Abbas will come back with from his consultations with the toothless Arab League. What does the Arab League want more? A subdued and contained Iran or a continuation of the old whipping boy Arab countries have been flogging to no avail since 1948 - the Palestinian-Israeli thing. Since the peace talks seem on the verge of failure, as I predicted they would, could there be a Middle Eastern "October Surprise" about to pop out of the box?
Certainly, the time is rip for some outside-the-box thinking and the Palestinian thing has never been more than a diversionary tactic designed to keep their subject peoples preoccupied with something other than their own inadequate governments. Should they go on fiddling while Rome (Iran) is burning?
And so much depends on what happens with Iran. If Iran turns upside down, Baby Assad will have to sing a very different tune, or at least seek out a new puppet master. Perhaps it will be Egypt. Or maybe Russia, as in the good ole days, especially if the Russians have any influence in the new Iran. If he's smart, he'll choose Egypt. I'm predicting the Arab world will be united for the first time since Gamal Abdul Nasser inspired the Nationalist movement. The Israel thing will be relegated to history's dustbin as the old rhetoric subsides and the need for new rhetoric arises. But then again, if Russia fills the Iran void, we're right back to the Cold War with the Arab Nations playing East off against the West.
My, we live in interesting times. I wonder where India's self-interest will align?