Rich Galen

In Egypt the ruling military junta has already decided to ban international observers when it holds its parliamentary elections and is, in any case, considering postponing the planned September elections for "from one to three months" according to a recent Wall Street Journal Article.

In Yemen, the near-fatal attack on its president in early June has left the nation in, according to the NY Times, in "a standoff, a leaderless twilight of uncertainty."

Bahrain, which is a tiny island nation in the Persian Gulf, saw the majority Shiite Muslims demonstrate against the royal family and societal elite which is made up of Sunnis. Since the crackdown on the demonstrators the government has been holding formal discussions with Shiites but tensions remain, and changes have not been forthcoming.

Syria is the next big hot spot. The leader, Bashar al-Assad, has employed the most brutal means to put down opposition demonstrators having killed upwards of 1,700 protesters and, again according to the NY Times, "more than 10,000 were reported to be either in custody or missing."

While all this has been going on, the Israelis and the Palestinians have increased the tension levels between them with rockets and small arms fire going back and forth across the borders which has been largely drowned out by the din of all the other aggravation in the region.

Small wonder, then, that President Obama wisely declined to sing the Ren & Stimpy Happy, Happy Joy, Joy song during his brief statement yesterday.

The only predictable thing about the Middle East/North Africa region is it's unpredictability.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at