The 'Arab Spring' has not been transformed into an Arab summer. Moves towards democracy in some places have been countered by counter-revolution, civil war and repression. A stalemate has developed as the Islamist movements creep out from the wings and take centre stage. With the strength of their social movements underpinning democratic mobilisation, they are preparing to ride the revolutionary wind and obtain an influential position in post-upheaval elections. Economic quagmires only increase their attraction.
At a further remove, the Islamist movements have taken advantage of war to seize territory and influence. Al-Qaeda adherents have moved to obtain a territorial base in South Yemen. They have seized and maintain a toehold on the towns of Zinjibar and Jaar, despite bombing and shelling by government forces. Internecine tribal warfare has not dislodged them either.
In Libya, Islamists have killed the military commander of the rebels. General Younes, a defector from the Qaddafi regime, was murdered a few days ago. However, the retelling of his death draws out the arbitrary and brutal nature of the fanatics. It appears that a militia undertook an opportunistic revenge killing against one of their old oppressors. It confirms an impression of lawless instability in the rebel ranks and encourages more sceptical parts of the British press to speculate whether partition is on the cards.
A messy and bloody instability, which allows extremists to gain more visibility, though it is not clear if this is a temporary confluence, or a long-term trend.