The Arab Spring has started as a monumental historical event.
Both allies and enemies have been impressed by the courage of a lot of individuals in Arab countries.
A big question for observers now is whether the Arab Spring has just begun, or whether it has just ended. Some countries / blocs have a strong interest in an end to the rebellions, a return to stability, while others have an interest in seeing the rebellion grow.
Others, like Saudi Arabia, are in an ambiguous position. On the one hand the rebellions if ultimately successful, will lead to a much wider influence of ideologues influenced by the Saudis. Also, the rebellions are strongly helpful to pan Arabs who want to see a unified Arab and Muslim bloc, economic and political and military. On the other hand, the Arab Spring seems, superficially, to pose a potential threat to the Royal family. Whether the threat is real, and whether the Saudis may be playing up the threat to distract from their motives, is a separate line of study.
A unified Arab bloc is also in China's interest. It would speed the power shift away from the United States and give more economic clout to China.
Managing the Arab Spring has become a clumsy project for the West.
In Bahrain, the United States struggles to maintain a minority government that treats the majority poorly, but allows U.S. military bases that are considered strategic. It is obviously an awkward situation in which the United States is forced to contradict the highest values it claims to promote.
In Yemen, likewise, the United States felt obliged to support an unpopular ruler in order to get a perceived strategic benefit. That country has been unraveling, but the efforts continue.
In Egypt, the United States supported Hosni Mubarak for many years, against all threats, until it didn't support him.
So, what is the answer?
In this case, the solution to the problem is the same solution that is needed for several other major problems that are starting to rage out of control.
1) Israel must solve the Palestinian issue. A two state solution, if there were still time for it, and there is not, would probably last at least several years. The proper one state solution would provide a solution that would be effectively permanent, meaning it would last for the foreseeable future. If Israel were to simply start the process of a one state solution it would buy some time. The main problem there is the abysmally low credibility Israel now has internationally with regard to negotiations. Israeli leaders have engaged in one deception after another and demonstrably have not negotiated in good faith.
2) America must retreat to its borders until the global situation sorts itself out. Certainly there are generals who like the idea of having magnificent battles in far flung lands. A wider war would let them realize their boyhood fantasies of commanding legions into a battle that would be remembered for generations. But it will also ruin America.
The war that is shaping up is not in America's or Israel's favor. America, and Israel, are stuck in an old mindset that will take second place. The general pattern is nothing new. The confidence is nothing new. The solution is nothing new. It is basically an elite mindset that feels so assured of victory that there is no need to think. A monumental tragedy getting ready to happen.
Arab Spring has become Arab Summer.
Chances of a peaceful transition are very low, while chances of a "worst case" scenario are quite high.
The situation in Egypt has a hidden synergy with Iran and Pakistan. The point being to get Western countries to commit to a conflict while the scale of the conflict is still hidden, or at least appears limited to the public.
The conflict will not end well for any countries outside of the region who get involved. That is why China, India and others are explicitly avoiding entanglement. Britain is obliged to the conflict, for various reasons, along with the U.S., but most likely the NATO partnership that operated in Afghanistan and Iraq will not hold.
For senior Israelis, the situation has a dark parallel with Masada, a place where a famous tragedy occurred in the first century.
When Israelis start their military service, they climb Masada and take a vow along the lines of "Never again". This might be trivial, except that right now it is the most hardline Israelis who are making the big decisions, and Israel's situation is pulling in other countries that might otherwise look at the situation more rationally.
Jordan, meanwhile, is starting to show cracks.
There have been warning signs in Jordan for a while, most notably its possible entrance into the Gulf Cooperation Council, basically an agreement that other old school Arab armies will quell unrest if necessary. In a recent demonstration the peace treaty with Israel was the focus.
Jordan has always been considered a moderate, relatively harmless local player. The main relevance it gets now to the developing conflict is its location. Also, because it is widely seen as pro Western, even a "puppet", when it gets caught up in the "democracy" movements it may have a surprising amount of turmoil.
At some point Saudi Arabia (or the "GCC"), will have to commit to a strategy in Jordan. Westerners want Saudi Arabia to be a western country that follows western rules, but all of the evidence suggests Saudi Arabia will end up shifting with the Arab Spring. There is a long history in the region of bitter conflicts followed by reliable alliances.
Saudi influence in Egypt seems to be hard to decipher.
On the one hand, Saudi Arabia is providing aid to try to stabilize the social part of the unrest. On the other hand it is heavily invested in the most radical of the up and coming leaders. A no lose situation. Westerners will generally perceive the aid as being given in the spirit of encouraging stability but the effect and intent of Saudi aid is not clear at all.