Bashar al-Assad and his father, Hafez al-Assad, kept Syria stable for 40 years through Machiavellian guile and ruthlessness, while sowing havoc elsewhere in the region.
How have authoritarian regimes remained in control so long in the Middle East? In Syria's case, a critical factor is the concentration of power in a single family, political party, and religious sect.
But many are skeptical that the accord will hold, given that huge differences remain between Fatah and Hamas, and Israel is strongly opposed to Palestinian unity.
Some soldiers reportedly refused to open fire against civilians in Deraa today, sparking clashes between units. A divided military could prove the undoing of Assad's regime.
In the absence of the National Democratic Party (NDP), the electoral field in September will be wide open for the Muslim Brotherhood to perform strongly.
Syrian protests, which reached unprecedented numbers today, have spread to the key cities of Aleppo and Hama. The unrest has begun to draw in Lebanon.
Democracy activists in Egypt are on the defensive after a series of authoritarian crackdowns. Pushback is a common trait of democratic transitions. Yet democratic reforms are vital if Egypt is to achieve real social and economic progress. Reformers must organize quickly, for the long-term.
Mubarak is under questioning and he and his two sons are being transferred to a Cairo prison. Egypt's military rulers appear to be responding to escalating public pressure to see the former president behind bars.
The Egyptian Army used to be considered the 'defenders of the people,' but the military council's failure to put former President Hosni Mubarak on trial has raised protesters' ire.