February 23rd, 2011
05:38 PM ET

What's likely to fill the power vacuums in Middle East?


Egyptians return home from the Sallum border crossing with Libya as they flee political turmoil in the midst of an insurrection against Moammar Gadhafi's regime. (PHOTO CREDIT: AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The political uprisings across the Middle East and northern Africa have paved the way for change for millions of people who have never known life outside a dictatorship. For the rest of us watching at home, those uprisings have created a lot of questions about the future of a region rich with oil and not exactly starved of anti-Americanism.

Until Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned earlier this month, one party had held all that nation's political power for decades. Other parties were banned or restricted in power. The military is running things now, but who will eventually be in charge?

Moammar Gadhafi has ruled over Libya with a culture of fear since 1969. If he goes – and it looks like he will – what's next? And what if the ruling Sunni family in Bahrain flees and allows the Shiite majority to take control of that tiny nation? Some say it's only a matter of time before they embrace Iranian politics. And of course, what does it all mean for nations like the United States?

In a piece for the Daily Beast, Leslie Gelb writes, "To be blunt, I don't know anyone who has the foggiest idea where these revolutions from Algeria to the borders of Saudi Arabia are going or whether future leaders there will be true democrats or new dictators."

Gelb says he's hoping for – but not betting on – a brighter more democratic future for these countries.

After all, we've got a lot at stake over there. And it's not just about oil. It's anti-terrorist operations, it's U.S. military presence and how our foreign policy fits in the changing policies of Arab nations.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Middle East