For this current blog, I decided to write about the Arab Spring and how it has transformed the political landscape in the Middle East. The uprisings that culminated in the Arab Spring social movement first occurred in Tunisia after a treet vender in early 2011 lit himself on fire to protest the corruption and ineffectiveness of the Tunisian government. This single act of defiance radiated throughout the Arab world and soon other countries became engulfed in protests. These countries included Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Jordan. Several of these protests succeeded in forcing authoritarian regimes from power in countries such as Yemen, Tunisia, and Egypt, while others resulted in all out civil war in Libya and Syria. Similar to the protests in Tunisia, citizens in these countries were protesting against their governments, many of whom were backed by Western countries, who were ineffective in providing human rights, employment, and means of free speech. In his narrative entitled Reflections on the Arab Revolution Boris Kagarlitsky describes how through “Tightening the lid of repressive police rule on the boiling cauldron of Arab societies, the ruling classes unknowingly guaranteed that social pressures would blow this lid to pieces” (Kagarlitsky). Hence, Kagarlitsky describes how it should have come as no surprise that mass protests and uprisings took place in the Arab world during 2011. Furthermore, Kagarlitsky comments on the role China played in aiding the circumstances that would culminate in the Arab Spring. He describes how the emergence of China as a monstrous manufacturing power resulted in thousands of industries and their jobs being taken away from countries in the Middle East and North Africa. He specifically describe how the textile industry in Morocco became non-existent after the emergence of the industry in China. The effect, besides high unemployment, of this occurrence was simply that countries in the Middle East and North Africa were increasingly unable to keep up with the rest of the world.

After closely examining this movement, I definitely feel that it was absolutely necessary in order for the Arab world to make any progress. If one were to look at the regions of the Middle East and North Africa closely, they would realize that there is extremely low unemployment and as a result extremely low GDPs. These two aspects, especially high unemployment, contribute directly to public discontent which is a huge mechanism that radical Islamic groups use to appeal to the public and recruit new members. With that said, the two downfalls of this movement have been the violence that has accompanied it and the potential involvement of elements of Al Qaeda. Although the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and other countries experienced little violence, the uprisings in Libya, Yemen, and Syria were met with great violence. In Syria and Libya, civil wars erupted from the uprisings that resulted in the deaths of thousands while in Yemen the new transitional government has had to battle elements of Al Qaeda. Although these movements claim they are fighting for democracy and a progressive platform, the world must be weary of radical Islamic groups infiltrating these movements especially in Libya and Syria.

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One response »

  1. Matt says:

    I agree with you that the wave of protests was a good start for reforming much of the Middle East. I am a little concerned that we have not seen the true outcome of this yet, however. I haven’t followed news coverage much since the initial protests and the end of the conflict in Libya, so unfortunately I don’t know much about the movement. Learning about its origins, like lack of economic opportunity, frustration at their rate of progress, and oppressive regimes was very enlightening, especially the economics side. I am worried at how they will re-organize, however. I have heard Egypt has been having a tough time re-establishing itself, and that was the supposed role model of the movement. I hope that the countries where democracy has prevailed can organize into effective governments, and I hope that the movement in places like Syria will finally prevail. The Middle East was once the technological and cultural hub of the world; there is so much to learn from them, but until the region becomes one of peace, stability, and toleration, I am afraid these bloody wars and protests will continue.

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