One of the really misleading things in the way the Arab Spring movements are explained is the supposition that they were political revolutions. If we are talking about the motives and real goals of these movements, they were not primarily political…these were socioeconomic revolutions.
They were not primarily about governments but about policies. I think that where you see them becoming about governments (like in Libya and Syria, and it has come to be the case in the way Egypt is discussed) instead of about socioeconomic policies, this indicates that those movements have been infiltrated, if not instigated and controlled by foreign powers who benefit from the socioeconomic policies opposed by the population.
The reality is that the socioeconomic policies against which the people rebelled, in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Syria, and in Yemen, are not changed by changing the governments. This has been clearly demonstrated. Shifting focus to personnel changes in the governments is an excellent way to circumvent the revolutions, and that is what has happened.
This is why the US is suddenly in favor of democracy in the Muslim world after decades of committed opposition to it. The fortification of global corporate power, the super-sovereignty of Multinationals, defuses the dangers of political democracy. As long as real power lies elsewhere, it makes more sense to let the people vote and feel they are involved, they are thus more effectively sidelined.
If we have learned anything, and if there is any cause for optimism stemming from the Arab Spring, it is the recognition that political changes are largely futile, because real power lies beyond the realm of government.