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The Arab Springs


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This is a very brief summary of what has happened and is happening in the Arab Springs

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The Arab Springs

  1. 1. The Arab Spring
  2. 2. Causes 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. 2. Unemployment 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 years. 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). 4. Corruption 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
  3. 3. 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 the street. 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.
  4. 4. 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. 1. Tunisia 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 forces refused to crack down on the protests. 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. 2. Egypt 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 Square in Cairo. 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. 3. Libya 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.
  5. 5. 4. Yemen 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 to seize territory in the south of the country. 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. 5. Bahrain 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 live fire from the security forces. 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 6. Syria 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 army defectors began organizing in the Free Syrian Army. 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. 7. Morocco 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 court than previous polls. 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
  6. 6. demanding a genuine constitutional monarchy continue, but have so far failed to mobilize the masses witnessed in Tunisia or Egypt. 8. Jordan 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.
  7. 7. Current Situation 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. 1. Bahrain 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 concessions. 2. Egypt 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. 3. Iraq 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.
  8. 8. 4. Iran 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. 5. Libya 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. 7. Syria 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.
  9. 9. 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. c) Corruption 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.
  10. 10. 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 occupation. 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 country. 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.
  11. 11. 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 opposition. 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.
  12. 12. 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 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 devastation. 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 weapons. 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 mission.
  13. 13. 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 years ago. 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 conflict.
  14. 14. 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 crossed it. 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 Arab Spring. 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.
  15. 15. 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.
  16. 16. Evaluation of Arab Springs Benefits 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 power. 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 revolutions. Challenges 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 alienated majority. 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 like. 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 change transformation. 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 morality.
  17. 17. 3 Main Outcomes of Arab Spring #1: 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. #2: 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. #3: 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. In Conclusion… 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.