It is almost a century since the state borders that today divide the Middle East were drawn up. The shape of the region was negotiated behind closed doors and imposed by colonial powers without consulting its people. The impact of those deals still haunts the region and, many would argue, plays a central role in its instability.
Some of the states that emerged from the carve-up later championed independence and social development, while others adopted a conservative stance. But almost without exception they maintained a monopoly on information and communication, underpinned by control and censorship of the media. For many years dissent, criticism or even limited exposure of what was going on behind closed doors was crushed with the argument that "it is not the right time" and "we are in a development and liberation battle". Such dissent and transparency would, the powers-that-be insisted, only "weaken unity and undermine the national interest".