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In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad unleashed security forces to squash demonstrations, after initial concessions, including a new Cabinet and the end to 48 years of emergency rule. Human rights groups say at least 500 people have been killed since the protests began in March.

Koumay Al Mulhem, a Syrian journalist based in Berlin, said most of the demonstrators had been hoping for some kind of peaceful transformation to democracy.

“It is no longer about changing some laws but about calling for the overthrow of Assad,” he said.

There is little chance of the West becoming militarily involved in Yemen or Syria, despite charges of inconsistency from many in the region.

Bruce W. Jentleson, a former State Department policy adviser, said the Obama administration has assessed each situation on its own merits and has opted for the policy “most effective for achieving the objective of peaceful political change.”

In Libya, there was a broad international consensus, including the Arab states, on the need for military intervention. That does not exist for countries like Syria, he noted.

What is clear is that the Arab world will be marked by increased uncertainty and instability in the near future, something that will pose a challenge to the West.

The White House was slow to shift policy after being caught off guard by the Arab Spring, particularly in Egypt and Yemen.

Yet, Mr. Jentleson, now professor of public policy at Duke University in North Carolina,insisted that the White House has not made “any major mistakes” since then because the uprisings have been anti-regime, not anti-American

However, he cautioned: “If people don’t think the U.S. is supportive enough of political change, that could shift.”