The Arab Spring which shook the very foundations of dictatorial regimes in the Middle East is ten years this month. Though the people’s burning desire for democracy and freedom were crushed by tyrants backed by United States, Europe and Israel the fire of freedom continue to burn in the hearts and minds of people all over Middle East.
The Arab Spring started on 17 December 2010 when a Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, humiliated by years of police harassment, set himself on fire in the city of Sidi Bouzid -that sparked a wave of anti-authoritarian uprisings across the region.
AS POINTED OUT BY COLUMNIST ERIN BLAKEMORE by early 2011 they had spread into what became known as the Arab Spring—a wave of protests, uprisings, and unrest that spread across Arabic-speaking countries in North Africa and the Middle East. It ended up toppling the governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.
But though they seemed poised to install democratic leadership and quell government repression, the uprisings also led to armed conflict in some countries, including civil war in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen due to US, European, Israeli and Russian involvement
According to reports the conditions that spurred the Arab uprisings, including government corruption, failed economies and deteriorating social services, have only intensified in many countries, exacerbated by 2020’s Covid-19 pandemic. The widespread failure of regional governments to tackle these underlying causes has led to a new round of uprisings in which protesters demand a better quality of life.
Marwan Muasher, a former Jordanian diplomat who authored TheSecond Arab Awakening, told the “First Arab Spring could have resulted in social peace if Arab governments understood the need for new social contracts, for more open political systems,, and, to fight corruption institutionally
“Most did not choose to do that, and instead they entrenched themselves, and the deep state came back very strongly.” Protesters are again raising their voices – but this time, as analysts have pointed out, they have learned key lessons from the past.
Jade Saab, who edited A Region in Revolt: Mapping the Recent Uprisings in North Africa and West Asia, says: “[The first round of Arab uprisings] helped in the removal of what people in the streets are referring to as ‘the barrier of fear’, the idea that change is possible and should be sought at a fundamental level, that demanding change in living conditions alone is not enough.”
Reiterating this Dalia Ghanem, a resident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut said “‘Citizens are asking for their place in decision-making and are renegotiating their citizenry’ she said. “Arab citizens broke the status quo, and that is, by itself, an achievement,” Ghana says. “Since then, autocrats fell and people woke up and decided that they deserved better, and that the post-colonial social contract was no longer working
[Today] citizens are asking for their place in decision-making and are renegotiating their citizenry.
Tunisia was the only country swept by the Arab Spring that did not devolve into civil war or see the return of autocratic rule. But Arab rulers failed to learn their own lessons about the importance of political change.
The first round of Arab uprisings in 2010-11 was followed by a period of relative quiet across the region. Many people were wary of protesting again, given how uprisings in Syria, Libya and Yemen had spiraled into civil wars that devastated countries, killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions. “.
Khalil al-Anani, a senior fellow at the Arab Center in Washington, says it was notable that protesters in Algeria last year remained on the streets even after former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika left office.
The region, he says, will continue to see demands for fundamental change as long as the ruling classes fail to resolve the underlying problems. “Unrest is what gives rise to social movements, and not vice versa,” he says.
“We are in a very peculiar situation where the old Arab order has died, politically, economically and socially, and the new order is having great difficulty being born.”
Anani predicts that young people will likely “flood the Arab streets once again whenever they have the opportunity to do so, and will remain rebellious until their demands for freedom, justice, dignity and representation are met”.
“The bullet of change has already been fired in 2011,” he says, “and it is only a matter of time when it will hit.”
Nonetheless, he said, the memory of the revolution will continue to live on in the minds and the hearts of the people who participated in it.”It will also continue to live in the minds and the hearts of the relatives of the martyrs,”
Disclaimer: Arab Spring-Ten years later today Continues with new spirit seeking change By Latheef Farook - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view