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The protests that toppled governments were fueled by anger over the lack of a basic element in market economies.

By Hernando de Sotoa

February 26, 2013 - Al Qaeda is resurgent in Mali, Algeria and beyond. Violent turmoil and anti-Western hostility are rising in the Middle East and North Africa. Two years after the Arab Spring, it would be easy to become discouraged about what the mass awakening has wrought.

That would be a mistake. Unfortunately for al Qaeda and its allies, much more promising forces are at work, sending positive signals for the West, if only the West will listen.

Research in the region conducted by my organization, the Peruvian-based Institute for Liberty and Democracy, has found strong evidence that the Arab Spring revolution was rooted in a desire for what in the West would be called a market-based economy. Arabs and others may not always use that phrase, but their desire for the economic security that comes with property rights and other rights is a force that the foes of individual freedom will not easily overcome. The challenge is to harness that force by offering people of the region the legal protections and security that are the bedrock of all successful economies.

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