The former Soviet Union had its era of "colour revolutions" (of questionable success) in the early 2000s, and the Middle East could now be entering a period of "date revolutions" inspired by the Egyptian January 25 uprising.

While Egypt may have lost some of the regional influence it enjoyed in its 1960s golden era, the country is home to almost a quarter of all Arabic speakers and is still a major gravitational force for the political tendencies of the Arab world.

Tunisia's uprising has, in the words of one Cairo business leader, "changed the Arab political psyche on every level". As Egypt's follow-on revolt tumbles toward success, activists in other countries are looking to emulate the model: decentralised protests, led by youth, connected through Facebook (and hopefully, broadcast by Aljazeera).

Three particular examples stand out:

  1. Activists in Bahrain are building support for a national day of protest (Arabic) on February 14, citing grievances including unemployment, corruption, police brutality and sectarianism.

  2. Algerian protesters are planning to march for "the departure of the regime" on February 12, in a continuation of a string of protests that have taken place since the unrest in Tunisia began last December. There have been 12 cases of Algerians setting themselves on fire in public since the beginning of the year.

  3. In Syria, youth are coalescing around a Facebook group planning protests on February 4 (Arabic) - which happens to be the anniversary of the most brutal event in the country's moden history, the 1982 Hama massacre, when more than 10,000 were killed and an entire city flattened in a government crackdown on Islamists.

On Saturday, the New York Times reported "several thousand" Sudanese demonstrators showed up to protests in major cities in the Arabic-speaking north of the country; the protests were organised through Facebook pages.

Obviously every country in the region has its own poltical and social complexities that make the likelihood of an uprising - and the government response - very different. Syria has a much more fractured sectarian makeup, and president Bashir Assad - the only leader of an Arab republic to successfully inherit power from his father - exploits this to maximum advantage. The absolute disaster that was the invasion and civil war in Iraq was a lot closer to home for most Syrians, who experienced a massive influx of Iraqi refugees.

But what is now clear is that a new sense of popular protest - and uprising - is working its way through the Arab world.

One guest on Al Jazeera on Saturday described the shift as the second great period of Arab revolution: the first stating in the 1950s freed the region from colonial masters, and the second, now underway, aims to free the people from domestic authoritarians. And while activism via Facebook and the internet - "slacktivism", some might say - has developed a bad name, Egypt's uprising shows that with the right circumstances, movements that began online can now shake the world.

See also:
Coverage of the Egyptian uprising - FT Tilt