This commentary was published in The Foreign Policy on 04/05/2011
The strong motivations and deep grievances of the Egyptian people and the opportunities that were available to them to demonstrate in large numbers and great determination were the underlying causes of the success of the Egyptian revolution. But what made the critical difference on the ground was the fact that the Egyptian army refused to intervene and fire at the protestors. Had the Egyptian army reacted to the demonstrations differently, it is not at all clear that the outcome would have been positive. As the bloody showdown between the Syrian protestors and the Assad regime escalates, the attitude and behavior of the Syrian army may prove equally pivotal. Will it?