1. Arab Youth: Demographic Time Bomb
Arab regimes have been sitting on a demographic time bomb for decades. According to the UN
Development Program, the population in Arab countries more than doubled between 1975 and 2005
to 314 million. In Egypt, two-thirds of the population is under 30. Political and economic
development in most Arab states simply could not keep up with the staggering increase in the
population, as the ruling elites’ incompetence helped lay the seeds for their own demise.
The Arab world has a long history of struggle for political change, from leftist groups to Islamist
radicals. But the protests that started in 2011 could not have evolved into a mass phenomenon had
it not been for the widespread discontent over unemployment and low living standards. The anger
of university graduates forced to drive taxis to survive, and families struggling to provide for their
children transcended ideological divisions.
3. Ageing Dictatorships
The economic situation could stabilize over time under a competent and credible government, but
by the end of the 20th century most Arab dictatorships were utterly bankrupt both ideologically and
morally. When the Arab Spring happened in 2011, Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak had been in
power since 1980, Tunisia’s Ben Ali since 1987, while Muammar al-Qaddafi ruled over Libya for 42
Most of the population was deeply cynical about the legitimacy of these ageing regimes, although
until 2011 most remained passive out of fear of the security services, and due to an apparent lack of
better alternatives or fear of an Islamist takeover).
Economic hardships can be tolerated if the people believe there is a better future ahead, or feel that
the pain is at least somewhat equally distributed. Neither was the case in the Arab world, where the
state-led development gave place to crony capitalism that benefited only a small minority. In Egypt,
new business elites collaborated with the regime to amass fortunes unimaginable to the majority of
the population surviving on $2 a day. In Tunisia, no investment deal was closed without a kick-back
to the ruling family.
5. National Appeal of the Arab Spring
The key to the mass appeal of the Arab Spring was its universal message. It called on the Arabs to
take back their country away from the corrupt elites, a perfect mixture of patriotism and social
message. Instead of ideological slogans, the protesters wielded national flags, along with the iconic
rallying call that became the symbol of the uprising across the region: “The People Want the Fall of
the Regime!”. The Arab Spring united, for a brief time, both secularists and Islamists, left wing
groups and advocates of liberal economic reform, middle classes and the poor.
6. Leaderless Revolt
Although backed in some countries by youth activist groups and unions, the protests were initially
largely spontaneous, not linked to a particular political party or an ideological current. That made it
difficult for the regime to decapitate the movement by simply arresting a few troublemakers, a
situation that the security forces were completely unprepared for.
7. Social Media
The first mass protest in Egypt was announced on Facebook by an anonymous group of activists,
who in a few days managed to attract tens of thousands of people. The social media proved a
powerful mobilization tool that helped the activists to outwit the police.
8. Rallying Call of the Mosque
The most iconic and best-attended protests took place on Fridays, when Muslim believers head to
the mosque for the weekly sermon and prayers. Although the protests were not religiously inspired,
the mosques became the perfect starting point for mass gatherings. The authorities could cordon off
the main squares and target universities, but they could not close down all mosques.
9. Bungled State Response
The response of Arab dictators to the mass protests was predictably awful, going from dismissal to
panic, from police brutality to piecemeal reform that came too little too late. Attempts to put down
the protests through the use of force backfired spectacularly. In Libya and Syria it led to civil war.
Every funeral for the victim of state violence only deepened the anger and brought more people to
10. Contagion Effect
Within a month of the downfall of the Tunisian dictator in January 2011, the protests spread to
almost every Arab country, as people copied the tactics of the revolt, though with varying intensity
and success. Broadcast live on Arab satellite channels, the resignation in February 2011 of Egypt’s
Hosni Mubarak, one of the most powerful Middle Eastern leaders, broke the wall of fear and
changed the region forever.
Summary of Events
The Arab Spring was a series of protests and uprisings in the Middle East that began with unrest in
Tunisia in late 2010. The Arab Spring has brought down regimes in some Arab countries, sparked
mass violence in others, while some governments managed to delay the trouble with a mix of
repression, promise of reform and state largesse.
Tunisia is the birthplace of the Arab Spring. The self-immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi, a local
vendor outraged over the injustices suffered at the hands of the local police, sparked countrywide
protests in December 2010. The main target was the corruption and repressive policies of President
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was forced to flee the country on January 14 2011 after the armed
Following Ben Ali’s downfall, Tunisia entered a protracted period of political transition.
Parliamentary elections in October 2011 were won by Islamists who entered into a coalition
government with smaller secular parties. But instability continues with disputes over the new
constitution and ongoing protests calling for better living conditions.
The Arab Spring began in Tunisia, but the decisive moment that changed the region forever was the
downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the West’s key Arab ally, in power since 1980. Mass
protests started on January 25 2011 and Mubarak was forced to resign on February 11, after the
military, similar to Tunisia, refused to intervene against the masses occupying the central Tahrir
But that was to be only the first chapter in the story of Egypt’s “revolution”, as deep divisions
emerged over the new political system. Islamists from the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won the
parliamentary and presidential election in 2011/12, and their relations with secular parties soured.
Protests for deeper political change continue. Meanwhile, Egyptian military remains the single most
powerful political player, and much of the old regime remains in place. The economy has been in
freefall since the start of unrest.
By the time the Egyptian leader resigned, large parts of the Middle East were already in turmoil. The
protests against Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi’s regime in Libya started on February 15 2011, escalating
into the first civil war caused by the Arab Spring. In March 2011 the NATO forces intervened against
the Qaddafi's army, helping the opposition rebel movement to capture most of the country by
August 2011. Qaddafi was killed on October 20.
But the rebels’ triumph was shortlived, as various rebel militias effectively partitioned the country
among them, leaving a weak central government that continues to struggle to exert its authority and
provide basic services to its citizens. Most of the oil production has returned on stream, but political
violence remains endemic, and religious extremism has been on the rise.
Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh was the fourth victim of the Arab Spring. Emboldened by events in
Tunisia, anti-government protesters of all political colors started pouring onto the streets in midJanuary 2011. Hundreds of people died in clashes as pro-government forces organized rival rallies,
and the army began to disintegrate into two political camps. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda in Yemen began
A political settlement facilitated by Saudi Arabia saved Yemen from an all-out civil war. President
Saleh signed the transition deal on 23 November 2011, agreeing to step aside for a transitional
government led by Vice-President Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi. However, little progress toward a
stabile democratic order has been made since, with regular Al Qaeda attacks, separatism in the
south, tribal disputes and collapsing economy stalling the transition.
Protests in this small Persian Gulf monarchy began on February 15, just days after Mubarak’s
resignation. Bahrain has a long history of tension between the ruling Sunni royal family, and the
majority Shiite population demanding greater political and economic rights. The Arab Spring
reenergized the largely Shiite protest movement and tens of thousands took to the streets defying
Bahraini royal family was saved by a military intervention of neighboring countries led by Saudi
Arabia, as Washington looked the other way (Bahrain houses US Fifth Fleet). But in the absence of a
political solution, the crackdown failed to suppress the protest movement. Protests, clashes with
security forces, and arrests of opposition activists continue
Ben Ali and Mubarak were down, but everyone was holding their breath for Syria: a multi-religious
country allied to Iran, ruled by a repressive republican regime and a pivotal geo-political position.
First major protests began in March 2011 in provincial towns, gradually spreading to all major urban
areas. The regime’s brutality provoked an armed response from the opposition, and by mid-2011
By the end of 2011, Syria slid into an intractable civil war, with most of the Alawite religious minority
siding with President Bashar al-Assad, and most of the Sunni majority supporting the rebels. Both
camps have outside backers – Russia supports the regime, while Saudi Arabia supports the rebels –
with neither side able to break the deadlock.
The Arab Spring hit Morocco on February 20 2011, when thousands of protesters gathered in the
capital Rabat and other cities demanding greater social justice and limits on the power of King
Mohammed VI. The king responded by offering constitutional amendments giving up some of his
powers, and by calling a fresh parliamentary election that was less heavily controlled by the royal
This, together with fresh state funds to help low-income families, blunted the appeal of the protest
movement, with many Moroccans content with the king’s program of gradual reform. Rallies
demanding a genuine constitutional monarchy continue, but have so far failed to mobilize the
masses witnessed in Tunisia or Egypt.
Protests in Jordan gained momentum in late January 2011, as Islamists, leftist groups and youth
activists protested against living conditions and corruption. Similar to Morocco, most Jordanians
wanted to reform, rather than abolish the monarchy, giving King Abdullah II the breathing space that
his republican counterparts in other Arab countries didn’t have.
As a result, the king managed to put the Arab Spring “on hold” by making cosmetic changes to the
political system and reshuffling the government. Fear of chaos similar to Syria did the rest. However,
the economy is doing poorly and none of the key issues have been addressed. The protesters’
demands could grow more radical over time.
The situation in the Middle East has rarely been as fluid as today, the events seldom as fascinating to
watch, as well as challenging to comprehend with the barrage of news reports we receive from the
region every day.
Since early 2011, heads of state of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have been driven to exile, put behind
bars, or lynched by a mob. Yemeni leader was forced to step aside, while the Syrian regime is
fighting a desperate battle for bare survival. Other autocrats dread what the future might bring and,
of course, foreign powers are closely watching the events.
Political System: Monarchical rule, limited role for a semi-elected parliament
Current Situation: Civil unrest
Further Details: Mass pro-democracy protests erupted in February 2011, prompting a government
crackdown aided by troops from Saudi Arabia. But unrest continues, as a restless Shiite majority
confronts a state dominated by the Sunni minority. The ruling family has yet to offer any significant
Political System: Political System: Interim authorities, elections due early 2014
Current Situation: Transition from autocratic rule
Further Details: Egypt remains locked in a protracted process of political transition after the
resignation of the long-serving leader Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, with most of the real
political power still in the hands of the military. Mass anti-government protests in July 2013 forced
the army to remove Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, amid deep
polarization between the Islamists and secular groups.
Political System: Parliamentary democracy
Current Situation: High risk of political and religious violence
Further Details: Iraq’s Shiite majority dominates the governing coalition, placing growing strain on
the power-sharing agreement with Sunnis and Kurds. Al Qaeda is using the Sunni resentment of the
government to mobilize support for its escalating campaign of violence.
Political System: Islamic republic
Current Situation: Regime infighting / Tensions with the West
Further Details: Iran’s oil-dependent economy is under severe strain due to sanctions imposed by
the West over the country’s nuclear program. Meanwhile, supporters of former president Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad vie for power with factions backed by Ayatollah Khamenei, and reformists who are
placing their hopes in President Hassan Rouhani.
Political System: Interim governing body
Current Situation: Transition from autocratic rule
Further Details: July 2012 parliamentary elections were won by a secular political alliance. However,
large parts of Libya are controlled by militias, former rebels that brought down the regime of Col.
Muammar al-Qaddafi. Frequent clashes between rival militias threaten to derail the political process.
6. Saudi Arabia
Political System: Absolutist monarchy
Current Situation: Royal family rejects reforms
Further Details: Saudi Arabia remains stable, with anti-government protests limited to areas
populated with the Shiite minority. However, growing uncertainty over the succession of power
from the current monarch raises the possibility of tension within the royal family.
Political System: Family-rule autocracy dominated by minority Alawite sect
Current Situation: Civil war
Further Details: After a year and a half of unrest in Syria, conflict between the regime and the
opposition has escalated to full-scale civil war. Fighting has reached the capital and key members of
the government have been killed or have defected.
Syrian Civil War
Syrian civil war grew out of a popular uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in
March 2011, part of Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East. The brutal response of the security
forces against initially peaceful protests demanding democratic reform and end of repression
triggered a violent reaction. An armed rebellion to the regime soon took hold across Syria, dragging
the country into a full-scale civil war.
1. Main Issues: The Roots of the Conflict
The Syrian uprising started as a reaction to the Arab Spring, a series of anti-government protests
across the Arab world inspired by the fall of the Tunisian regime in early 2011. But at the root of the
conflict was anger over unemployment, decades of dictatorship, corruption and state violence under
of the Middle East’s most repressive regimes.
Reasons for the Conflict:
a) Political Repression
President Bashar al-Assad assumed power in 2000 after the death of his father Hafez who
had ruled Syria since 1970. Assad quickly dashed hopes of reform, as power remained
concentrated in the ruling family, and the one-party system left few channels for political
dissent. With no peaceful transfer of power since the 1950s, change can seemingly happen
only through a military coup or a popular uprising.
b) Minority Rule
Syria is a majority Sunni Muslim country but the top positions in the security apparatus are
in the hands of the Alawis (the followers of Ali) , a Shiite religious minority to which the
Assad family belongs. Most Syrians pride themselves on their tradition of religious tolerance,
but many Sunnis still resent the fact that so much power is monopolized by a handful of
Alawi families. While not a driving force of the Syrian uprising, the combination of a majority
Sunni protest movement and an Alawi-dominated military has added to the tension in
religiously mixed areas, such as the city of Homs.
Whether it's a license to open a small shop or a car registration, well-placed payments make
wonders in Syria. For those without the money and good contacts, it's a powerful grievance
against the state. Ironically, the system is corrupt to the extent that anti-Assad rebels buy
weapons from the government forces, and families bribe the authorities to release relatives
that have been detained during the uprising.
d) State Violence
Syria's vast intelligence services, the infamous mukhabarat, penetrate all spheres of society.
The fear of the state is one of the reasons why so many Syrians simply take the regime as a
fact of life. But the outrage over the brutal response of the security forces to the outbreak of
peaceful protest in Spring 2011, documented on social media, helped generate the snowball
effect as thousands across Syria joined the uprising. More funerals, more protest.
e) Population Growth
Syria's rapidly growing young population is a demographic time bomb waiting to explode.
The bloated, unproductive public sector and struggling private firms could not absorb a
quarter of a million new arrivals to the job market every year. This led to poorer living
standard of people with increase in unemployment levels.
2. Why is Syria Important?
Syria’s geographical position at the heart of the Levant and its fiercely independent foreign policy
make it a pivotal country in the eastern part of the Arab world. A close ally of Iran and Russia, Syria
has been in conflict with Israel since the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, and has sponsored
various Palestinian resistance groups. Part of Syria’s territory, the Golan Heights, is under Israeli
Syria is also a religiously mixed society and the increasingly sectarian nature of violence in some
areas of the country has contributed to the wider Sunni-Shiite tension in the Middle East.
International community fears that the conflict could spill over the border to affect the neighboring
Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Jordan, creating a regional disaster. For these reasons, global powers such
as the US, European Union and Russia all play a role in the Syrian civil war.
3. The Main Players in the Conflict
The regime of Bashar al-Assad is relying on the armed forces and increasingly on pro-government
paramilitary groups to fight the rebel militias. On the other side is a broad range of opposition
groups, from Islamists to leftwing secular parties and youth activist groups, who agree on the need
for Assad’s departure, but share little common ground over what should happen next.
The most powerful opposition actors on the ground are hundreds of armed rebel groups, which have
yet to develop a unified command. Rivalry between various rebel outfits and the growing role of
hardline Islamist fighters prolong the civil war, raising the prospect of years of instability and chaos
even if Assad were to fall.
4. Is Civil War in Syria a Religious Conflict?
Syria is a diverse society, home to Muslims and Christians, a majority Arab country with a Kurdish
and Armenian ethnic minority. Some religious communities tend to be more supportive of the
regime than the others, fuelling mutual suspicion and religious intolerance in many parts of the
President Assad belongs to the Alawite minority, an off-shoot of Shiite Islam. Most of the army
generals are Alawites. The vast majority of armed rebels, on the other hand, come from the Sunni
Muslim majority. The war has raised the tension between Sunnis and Shiites in the neighboring
Lebanon and Iraq.
5. The Role of Foreign Powers
Syria’s strategic importance has turned the civil war into an international contest for regional
influence, with both sides drawing diplomatic and military support from various foreign sponsors.
Russia, Iran, the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, and to a lesser extent Iraq and China, are the main
allies of the Syrian regime.
Regional governments concerned about Iran’s regional influence, on the other hand, back the
opposition, particularly Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The calculation that whoever replaces Assad
will be less friendly to the Iranian regime is also behind the US and European support for the
Meanwhile, Israel sits on the sidelines, anxious about the growing instability on its northern border.
Israeli leaders have threatened with intervention if Syria’s chemical weapons fell in the hands of the
Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.
6. Diplomacy: Negotiations or Intervention?
The United Nations and the Arab League have dispatched joint peace envoys to persuade both sides
to sit at the negotiating table, with no success. The main reason for the paralysis of the international
community are the disagreements between Western governments on one side, and Russia and
China on the other, which hinders any decisive action by the United Nations Security Council.
At the same time, the West has been reluctant to intervene directly in the conflict, wary of the
repeat of the debacle it had suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan. With no negotiated settlement in sight,
the war is likely to continue until one side prevails militarily.
Reasons for lack of foreign Intervention
Unlike the case in Libya, the USA had decided not to intervene in Syria due to various reasons. In a
press conference in March 2012, President Barack Obama said, “What happened in Libya was we
mobilized the international community, had a U.N. Security Council mandate, had the full
cooperation of the region, Arab states, and we knew that we could execute very effectively in a
relatively short period of time. This is a much more complicated situation.”
Reasons for the lack of intervention in Syria/ what makes intervention in Syria complicated:
1) Syria's Armed Forces Compared To Libya's: Syria is a much stronger military power than
Libya and hence intervention is much more complicated
According to NationMaster.com statistics, as of 2005 Syria had total armed forces personnel
of 416,000 (5.49% of its available labor force) compared to 76,000 (3.25% of total labor
force) for Libya.
In 2004, Muammar Qaddafi's Libyan army had 1,800 tanks, compared to 1,400 (some say
4,500) in Syria. Libya, however, contains 680,000 square miles, while Syria has only 71,500
square miles, thus Syria has the ability to concentrate its armored power instead of diluting
across its landscape.
In total weaponry, ranging from sidearms to rolling armor, Syria has nearly 12 million pieces
compared to 5 million in Libya.
Syria reportedly also has biological and chemical weapons hidden throughout the country.
To strike without knowing where BioChem weapons are risks multiplying the human
2) Syria’s Allies
Iran and Syria are known allies. They are also both historic enemies of Israel. Iran's President
Mahmoud Amadinejad has declared he would like to see Israel wiped off the map.While the
removal of Assad could ultimately deprive Iran of a close ally, the intervention to make that
happen could first agitate Iran into action against Israel or other U.S. allies. That at a time
when the United States is leading diplomatic action to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear
Russia and China are allies and trade partners with Syria. They will not any military
intervention by USA but nor will they support it. Russia and China have already vetoed in the
United Nations an Arab League plan to have Assad hand over power to a vice-president.
They certainly would veto any U.N. attempt to authorize armed intervention. That would
prohibit any multilateral approval from an American-led strike.
3) America’s War Weariness
After being at war in Afghanistan and Iraq for more than a decade, Americans are weary of
war. The U.S. ended its combat involvement in Iraq in 2011, and plans to do the same in
Afghanistan at the end of 2012. Americans are loathing taking on another long-term military
Recent Greater Foreign Intervention In Syria
As of September 1, 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama was mulling military strikes against Syria
after Assad's government allegedly unleashed sarin gas against rebels. The United States is
convinced that Assad's forces perpetrated the attack on August 21, which U.S. Secretary of State
John Kerry said killed upwards of 1,400 people.
More than 100,000 people have died since the civil war began during Arab Spring in March 2011.
The war has also caused thousands of Syrians to flee the country, putting pressure on Syria's
neighbors and prompting fears of a humanitarian crisis.
Evidence of an earlier gas attack prompted Obama to issue a warning to Syria that, if confirmed,
chemical warfare would be a "game changer" for the U.S., which had been giving only non-lethal aid
to Syrian rebels. In April 2013, the U.S. got the confirmation it needed, and Obama okayed more and
other kinds of aid -- presumably lethal -- to the Syrian rebels. No word at this writing if that aid has
actually reached the Syrian opposition.
Soon after the civil war began and Assad's brutal counterattacks were evident, Obama declared
Assad's presidency illegitimate, and that the leader must go.
No one in the Obama administration -- indeed in most western governments -- thought the civil war
would last as long as it has, or that Assad would retain power.
Thus, from the outset, Obama opted for economic pressure -- sanctions -- on Syria, coupled with aid
to the opposition, to push Assad aside.
Long before the civil war began, the U.S. considered Syria to be a state sponsor of terrorism and
both a threat to Israel and the stabilization of Iraq. As such, the U.S. sanctions against Syria began 10
Despite President Barack Obama pressing for Congress approval for military intervention in Syria,
military action was unpopular with the American public and many members of Obama's own party,
who were weary of launching another war and possibly getting mired in yet another Middle East
Reasons for US intervention in Syria
The main reason for US intervention in Syria was the apparent use of chemical weapons outside the
Syrian capital Damascus on August 21 2013. The US has blamed the Syrian government forces for the
deaths of hundreds of civilians in the attack, an accusation vehemently denied by Syria.
But cynics will say that the civil war in Syria had already killed more than 100 000 people since 2011,
with most Western governments sitting on the fence. So why intervene now?
US Credibility on the Line
Washington made it clear repeatedly it had no intention of getting involved in another war in the
Middle East, even as the Syrian opposition accused the US of indifference to the country’s
destruction. The risks were simply too great.
At the same time, Barack Obama drew the line on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army.
The "red line", he called it, promising some sort of punitive action if the regime of Bashar al-Assad
Several alleged incidents involving chemical weapons took place in 2013, but the graphic images of
the destruction caused by the August 21 attack shocked the world. Even without water-proof
evidence of Syrian army’s involvement, doing nothing in the face of open defiance from a Russianbacked Arab dictatorship would make Obama look weak and indecisive.
Yes, the use of chemical weapons is banned by international conventions (to which Syria is not a
signatory). But it was the prospect of appearing irrelevant that spurred Obama into action, after two
years of seeing US influence in the Middle East slowly erode with the changes brought about by the
Why is Syria Important?
The US has of course other reasons to play a role in the Syrian crisis. Syria is one of the pivotal
countries in the Middle East. It borders Turkey and Israel, has a close relationship with Iran and
Russia, plays an influential role in Lebanon, and has a history of rivalry with Iraq.
Syria is a key link in the alliance between Iran and the Lebanese Shiite movement of Hezbollah
Lebanon. Syria has been at odds with the US policies in the region practically since its independence
in 1946, and has fought several wars with Israel, America’s top regional ally.
In other words, the US had plenty of reasons to want to intervene in Syria regardless of who was
behind the August 21 attack. The question was always how to do it on the cheap, and without
making the situation on the ground even worse.
Weakening Assad, But No Invasion
Weakening the Syrian regime has been a long-standing goal of successive US administrations down
the years, with multiple layers of sanctions in place against the regime in Damascus. But what
exactly Obama wants to achieve militarily is less clear.
A push for regime change would probably require an invasion using ground troops, an unthinkable
option given the war-weary US public. Plus, many policymakers in Washington have warned that a
victory for Islamist elements among the Syrian rebels would be equally dangerous for US interests.
Still, it is also unlikely that a limited bombing campaign lasting a few days would really impair Assad’s
ability to use chemical weapons again. The US would most likely have to target a wide range of
Syrian military facilities to significantly degrade Assad’s fighting capacity, sending a clear message
that more damage can be inflicted at a later stage.
However, wars don’t always go as planned, and Obama could get drawn into a longer commitment
to a conflict he had been trying hard to avoid.
Evaluation of Arab Springs
Very few movements lead to successful
revolutions and Arab Spring is a historic event in
the Middle, which can be considered a success
with the people removing their leaders from
The revolution in Arab Spring has become ‘selflimiting’, focused on individual liberal political
emancipation rather than collective economic
transformation. The demands for full citizenship,
for the recognition of individual political rights,
were a powerful unifying theme across the Arab
The Arab Spring was a historic moment in the
politics of the Middle East but its long-term
impact remains unpredictable. The political
regimes are filled in instability and uncertainties.
The new ruling elites in North Africa, namely in
Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, are faced with
challenges as they set about reorganising the
economy to meet the unfulfilled aspirations of
their populations. The post- revolutionary
regimes have not to date shown any clear idea,
about how they will deliver meaningful growth.
The transitional governments need to
reformulate economic policies in a way that
delivers meaningful growth to this previously
E.g. This is especially problematic in Egypt, which
has demographically passed the peak of its youth
bulge, placing increasing numbers of young
people on the job market. If government fails to
fulfil these people’s needs undesirable
consequences may result.
There is a lack of ‘contemporary revolutionary
ideologies’ binding these movements together
and these new government elites have little
sense of what an alternative order would look
Furthermore, beyond a collective sense of
endeavour and empowerment, the movements
of the Arab Spring were not united by a concrete
or programmatical agenda for post-regime
In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood’s (it is a
political party) ‘auto-reform’, its transition under
state repression from a militant revolutionary
organisation to one committed to democracy,
has not given it a clear or insightful programme
for the transformation of the Egyptian economy
in a way that can meet the aspirations of its
voters or the third of Egyptian society aged
between 15 and 30.
The newly empowered are largely inexperienced
and political parties will fight over secondary
issues, such as dress codes and the policing of
3 Main Outcomes of Arab Spring
Majority of states in the region represents little or no change. From Saudi Arabia to Jordan, the
ruling elites have managed through adjustments to their ruling strategies to stay in power and face
down the protestors.
These countries will now embark on a new round of ‘authoritarian upgrading’. As the Arab Spring
spread across North Africa and into the wider Middle East, ruling elites set about a reassessment of
their formula for continued rule.
The second category of outcomes indicates a more evenly balanced contest between those
mobilising for change and the regime (or remnants of the regime) themselves. For example, Libya,
the 1st country to enter civil war, followed by Syria are in this category. (Yemen is very likely to go
into civil war as well)
For example, in the case of Libya, it is still not clear whether the highly precarious post- regime
change situation will revert to civil war or stabilise into a potentially sustainable transition. The fact
that Libya today has all the prerequisites of a failed state springs from the legacies of Gaddafi’s rule,
the way regime change was realised, and the actions of politicians and militia leaders in its
aftermath. Furthermore, the situation of a weak and under-legitimised government seeking to
impose control over a myriad of militias, fighting to retain their military power and geographic
autonomy, does not bode well for the transition of Libya.
Finally, there are those countries which are in the midst of a largely peaceful transition after regime
change, Egypt and Tunisia.
For all the troubles and uncertainties surrounding politics in Tunis and Cairo, when compared to the
violence and instability in Syria and Libya and the ongoing post-Spring authoritarian upgrading across
the rest of the region, Egypt and Tunisia continue to offer hope for the populations of the Arab
world that sclerotic dictators can be overthrown and a better freer future is possible through
political mobilisation. This is a positive effect of Arab Spring on these countries.
The events of the Arab Spring have given hope to millions of people across the Middle East and
beyond that meaningful political change for the better is a distinct possibility. That said, of all the
Arab countries effected by this wave of political protest, only two, Egypt and Tunisia, is now in what
looks like political transitions to a more representative form of government. Two more, Syria and
Libya, were driven into civil war with Yemen also showing some signs of following them. The rest of
the countries of the Middle East retain the ruling elites they had before the Arab Spring started.
Successful revolutions are very rare indeed.