When the Arab uprisings started spreading across the Middle East, human rights and democracy activists around the world held high hopes that the peaceful push for reform would spread to the many countries where populations live under repressive leadership. After protesters succeeded in overthrowing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a British member of parliament declared, "I would like to see regime change in Zimbabwe and Burma." The sentiment was optimistically echoed by exiles of repressive states and their supporters in many places. For a moment, it seemed as if the exultant Egyptian protesters might just unleash a wave of freedom that would sweep away the world's most entrenched dictatorships.
More than three months after the so-called Arab Spring claimed its first dictator with the toppling of Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, there is little sign that the flame of the Arab democratic uprising is setting freedom fires anywhere outside the Arab world.
A look at the situation in nations ruled by the most tyrannical regimes -- the countries labeled "The Worst of the Worst" by the nonpartisan Freedom House -- shows that the Arab uprising has so far had only minimal impact on them. The only exception, of course, is in Arab countries that also belong to the group.