(SMH) Gerard Henderson–Iran remains at the heart of Middle Eastern instability

As the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed, Iran is getting closer to acquiring a nuclear bomb – it might be able to do so in less than two years. A Persian nuclear bomb threatens Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states as much as it does Israel. Europe and the United States also have reason to be deeply concerned.

And then there is what many had hoped would become the Arab Spring. It may be that a majority of Muslims in North Africa reject the form of democracy favoured in the West. Young Muslims have shown enormous courage in demonstrating for freedoms in the face of repression in Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and the like. Yet, when relatively free elections have been conducted in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, the Islamist parties have prevailed.

This does not mean such nations will become Islamic theocracies like Iran any time soon. It is likely that, in the short term at least, the Islamist parties will share power with other organisations, including the army.

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