Following the fall of the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia, unrest has been spreading throughout the region.
Today's events in Bahrain and Libya suggest that it could be a year of unrest, with Arab governments in danger of being toppled and western powers speaking the language of democracy but increasingly concerned about vital interests.
Paul Mason examines what lies at the root of the revolts.
Read Paul Mason's blog
Broadcast on Thursday 17 February 2011.