The new Middle East is very much a work in progress, but there is little question that the latest developments in that pivotal part of the world are making the stirring picture of freedom, democracy and secularism that so many had envisioned in the early days of the Arab Spring look more like a glassy mirage masking anti-liberal, anti-Western sentiment. As spring has given way to a boiling summer, most of the region's revolutions have either stalled or moved in a direction that bears little resemblance to what progressive forces had initially hoped for.
Not only have Arab liberals experienced dangerous setbacks. The United States and the West are also losing ground in the Middle East.
Progressive, U.S.-friendly forces may regain the upper hand, and they certainly have not surrendered, but the last few weeks have been little short of disastrous. From the battlefields of Libya to the street protests in Egypt, from the gilded palaces of Gulf emirate rulers to the dusty shops of Arab merchants, the news looks decidedly negative for Washington and its friends.