The Arab Spring signifance
The Arab Spring or Arab Awakening describes a series of popular uprisings across the Arab world which started in December of 2010 when Tunisian 26-year-old vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi had his fruit cart confiscated by a Policewoman who slapped him afterwards.
In response, Mohamed set himself on fire, and this single act of outrage would be the spark that lit the Arab Spring or Arab Awakening revolts.
Events began swiftly in Tunisia where the Government’s violent Military response was overcome by Protestors which led to President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali resigning and leaving the Country in January 2011.
The events in Tunisia were soon followed by massive protests in Egypt in the same month of January.
Protestors and security forces faced off in Cairo until the Egyptian Army refused to use force against the Protestors any longer. Instead, the Army demanded the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.
Without the Army’s support, Mubarak resigned the Egyptian Presidency on 11 February, handing power over to the Military.
The momentous events in Egypt and Tunisia were broadcast throughout the Arab world on satellite TV stations as well as on Social Media Networks.
As a result, the flame of uprising continued to spread as far as Libya, Yemen and Syria.
In February 2011, Libyan protests against the regime of Muammar al Qaddafi escalated into an armed revolt until Qaddafi was removed from power in August 2011 after rebel forces took command of Tripoli.
Causes Of The Arab Awakening
The Arab Spring protests were instigated mostly by young, socially aware and educated youth.
The movement was driven primarily by economic factors: High unemployment, inflation and the uneven concentration of wealth in the hands of a small elite.
As a result, the Arab Spring may be explained primarily by reference to economic issues which were negatively impacting on the welfare and standard of living as well as a desire for a more liberal form of secular government in the Arab world.
The Arab Spring also seems to have come as a surprise because the dominant Political Theory on the politics of the Middle East at the time argued that political stability was determined by dictatorships in the region which were in turn bolstered by the United States along with other Western nations.
Nevertheless, Citizens within Arab Countries themselves suffered hardship from diminished Social and economic prospects because of an absence of Economic advancement.
This might be traced to the absence of democratic governance which urged corruption, minimal accountability and eventually stunting development and opportunities to unacceptable levels.
All in all, this suggests that internal grievances were the chief cause of the revolts.
Legacy Of The Arab Awakening
The results of the Arab Spring have been mixed because it did not lead to the spread of liberal democracy.
For instance, in Tunisia elections were held which led to the rise of a new Islamist Party called Ennahda to power.
Furthermore, in Egypt, the Military has since assumed power, whilst Syria and Libya have been plunged into devastating Civil War.
The Arab Spring did not therefore usher in the era of liberal democratic secular Government in the Arab world.
Nevertheless, it should be recognised as an important development in the evolution of the Arab World towards alternative systems of Government which remains to be fully realised.