There is an unremarked paradox in the tumult of the contemporary Middle East. Syria is an economically impoverished country of a little more than 20 million people that has been politically stagnant until 23 months ago. Egypt, by contrast, never socially at rest and with its ancient energies newly bestirred, is at 80.5 million people more than four times larger. Yet it is the carnage in Syria, not the continuing multiparty political tightrope act in Egypt, that is more likely to unleash a torrent of violence and instability throughout the Middle East. Before it has run its course it could undo multiple existing regimes and even alter the region’s post-World War I territorial boundaries.