Chill winds blow over the Arab spring

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Greg Sheridan forecasts a gloomy future for the Arab spring.

Last week there was a demonstration in Cairo by many thousands of Islamists. The Egyptian economy is in free fall. The latest polls show the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots would score spectacularly well in a parliamentary election

In Tunisia, the economy is in trouble and intolerant Islamism is on the rise. Libya is in the midst of a horrible stalemate. In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad has killed thousands of people. The Syrian economy, which has no oil to speak of, is also going down the drain. In Yemen, the future looks very bloody. The old regime has not been toppled and the local al-Qa'ida affiliate is still full of fight. In Bahrain, protesters representing a Shi'ite majority under Sunni rule have been crushed. In Lebanon the government is now dominated by Hezbollah.

Many of the elements we once took comfort from in the Arab Spring have changed. It's true that al-Qa'ida, Hezbollah and Iran were taken by surprise by the Arab uprisings, and neither controlled nor much influenced them. But these forces are well and truly in the game now.

We don't know how this will play out. The Arab world is in turmoil, and the groups most likely to step in and take control are those who have a clear agenda and are organised. Expect militant Islam to seize the opportunity.

So what does this mean for the spread of the gospel?