Over the past six months we have inked a few columns discussing and analysing the forces of change sweeping the Arab region. I have argued that what we are witnessing in numerous Arab republics does not amount to real classic revolutions, notwithstanding the Wests labelling of these unprecedented changes as the Arab Spring. Who would have thought that a little-known man called Mohammad Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, by setting himself on fire last December, would generate this unfolding political tsunami in the Arab world? For the sake of argument let us call these changes 'uprisings that are sweeping the Arab world, from 'the ocean to the Gulf. These are leading to unprecedented changes in the region in terms of liberating the masses from decades of oppression and iron-fisted rule by a single-party apparatus in much of the Arab world. Such fundamental changes are not only changing the face of the region and emboldening the masses, but, along the way, are also eradicating the long-held belief of Arab exceptionalism. This belief held that the Arab world defied change and resisted democracy. Finally something gave in, and Arabs surprised themselves and others and joined other civilisations and cultures in their pursuit of change which has eluded them for generations. But alas, change is costly and is always fraught with unintended consequences and heavy casualties along the way. The optimism of the early Arab Spring seems to be more of wishful thinking than reality. Nobody claimed change will come easy. The beautiful phrase Arab Spring was probably coined by wishful thinkers; what we all cheered for is giving way to a bloody autumn and may even become a winter of discontent. Two of the most repressive Arab regimes, in Tunisia and Egypt, were toppled and disappeared from the political scene in mere weeks with minimal bloodshed. Bewildered and wide-eyed Arabs were glued to their TV screens watching in disbelief a little Pharaoh abdicate his throne in Egypt after trying to pave the way for his son to succeed him. They also saw a brutal little dictator dripping in corruption and nepotism in Tunisia, who amended the constitution many times to become a president for life in a police state, fleeing the country. Unlike fall of communism George Friedman, in his poignant article in Stratfor.com, a private intelligence outfit in the US, titled 'Re-Thinking Arab Spring, argued convincingly that some regimes have come under massive attack but have not fallen, as in Libya, Syria and Yemen. And in many countries, such as Jordan, the unrest never amounted to a real threat to the regime. The kind of rapid and complete collapse that we saw in Eastern Europe in 1989 with the fall of communism has not happened in the Arab world. More important, what regime changes that might come of the civil wars in Libya and Syria are not going to be clearly victorious. Those that are victorious are not going to be clearly democratic and those that are democratic are obviously not going to be liberal. Again the point is made: what we are witnessing in many Arab countries are not real, classic revolutions similar to 1989 post-communist Eastern Europe or the Iranian revolution, where the head of these regimes, along with their entire political apparatus, military, security and intelligence agencies were all swept away and put on trial. This is not the case in Libya, Syria and Yemen. The regimes are digging in and committing atrocities with reports of crimes against humanity that will probably surface in the International Criminal Court, especially in the case of Libya and Syria. Even in countries like Egypt and Tunisia, where Hosni Mubarak and Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali were ousted and departed the scene, their henchmen, political and military leaders, are still running the show appointing prime ministers, and administering and charting their countries political future. Instead of being put on trial and indicted for their role in the old regimes, they have become the new masters. This also could lead to other Arab countries that are undergoing change seeing this as a model to be emulated. The other unintended consequence of change is the unruly masses with high expectations. This manifests itself in Tahrir Square in Egypt, where people of different stripes Islamists, liberals and independents gather in the Square to protest any unpopular government decree. The current Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf pledged his allegiance to the Egyptian people one hot Friday in Tahrir Square Does this mean that Tahrir Square will be the new arbiter in the new Egypt? Moreover, there are now creeping doubts in the minds of many in the Arab World and in the West about the growing clout of Islamists. They feel that the end result of the pangs of Arab Spring wont deliver liberal democracies, but rather Islamic republics. Theres fear, especially in Egypt, of a second revolution led by the Islamists themselves. We are living in exciting times, where change is still happening and these changes have not reached their final stage. At any rate, I repeat, we are making history and living it. Professor Abdullah Al Shayji is the Chairman of the Political Science Department, Kuwait University. Gulf News