Biggest Stories of the Decade - The Arab Spring

As part of our series on the biggest scoops of the 2010s, Sesha Subramanian takes a look back at the Arab Spring

Sesha Subramanian
2nd December 2019
Image: Wikipedia
The Arab spring was a series of anti-government protests, rallies, and uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa in the early 2010s, fuelled mainly by the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The protests began in Tunisia, where protests began against an oppressive regime and a low standard of living.
Obama meets with the then-Prime Minister of Tunisia in 2011
Image: Obama White House

The protests would soon engulf many surrounding countries, such as Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. Street demonstrations were a common feature of the Arab Spring, and the authorities in these countries responded with violence. Retaliatory measures were seen in some countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt, including coups d'etat, insurgency and even civil war.

The Arab Spring had mixed results: regimes that weren't as oil rich or lacked hereditary succession plans were more likely to change and democratise themselves. In many cases, intervention by foreign states has not helped the cause of the protesters who - wanting self-determination - were eventually left disillusioned. Many Arab nations also ended up having power vacuums, resulting in a contentious battle between religious elites and those wanting democracy.

The Arab Spring still continues, but it's hard to see new protest movements bearing fruit

Uprisings and protests still go on in many countries across the Arab world, and are seen as a continuation of the Arab Spring. However, the ideals of the original protests have been well and truly lost, barring a few countries like Tunisia where genuine change has happened. Despite the fact that there were people still voicing their displeasure in countries like Algeria, Iraq and others this past year, it is hard to imagine these movements bearing fruit.

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