As in Tunisia, the traditional opposition groups are playing a secondary role in the uprisings, even rushing to catch up. Tunis' Nahda, an Islamist party, appears to have played absolutely no role in the uprisings. Muslim Brotherhood branches in Egypt and Jordan appear to be at least two steps behind the protesters.
And young people, long derided as apolitical and apathetic, are racing ahead, redefining themselves, creating a new political consciousness built around Facebook instead of a political leader or ideology and demanding nothing short of a toppling of the regime and the downfall of the ruling elite.
Western officials reflexively fear Middle East revolutions, in part because of Iran's 1979 uprising that established the Islamic Republic, a source of extremist ideology throughout the region. But many of the Arab world's Islamists don't tout the Iranian model.
Instead, they point to Turkey's example, where a moderately Islamist political party untainted by corruption has improved the economy and increased the country's international influence while expanding democratic participation.