Daniel Drezner has a thoughtful piece in the current TNR that argues that it is not as unlikely as some think that we can establish something like democratic states in the region. Here is his concluding paragraph:
"The area specialists aren’t necessarily wrong; democratizing Iraq won’t be easy. But the conditions aren’t nearly as barren as these experts suggest, and the potential upside is enormous. If a democratic transition were to succeed in Iraq, then Syria, suddenly surrounded by established democracies (Israel and Turkey) and emerging democracies (Iraq and Jordan), might start to feel nervous as well. Combine democratization in the Fertile Crescent with the continued liberalization of Morocco, Bahrain, and Qatar, and suddenly the neocon vision of a fourth wave of democratization spreading across the Middle East begins to look plausible."
You might also want to glance at Michael Barones good column on the same theme.