The Middle East might just be a problem that can’t be solved – least of all by Arab dictators

Arab dictators were easy to mock – at least from a safe distance. With their dark glasses, Ruritanian uniforms and omnipresent portraits, men like Saddam Hussein and Hafez al-Assad were derided by foreigners who lived far away from their prisons and torture chambers.

When this pair dominated Iraq and Syria respectively, few would have believed that tyrants of their brand could ever be regarded with nostalgia. And yet today, as ruin overtakes swathes of the Middle East, dictator nostalgia is becoming fashionable.