Events started in various nations in the first half of 2011 with a list of uprisings and armed rebellions with people for the goal of democracy and better living standards, The “Arab Spring,” which encompassed mainly in Muslim countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and many others. The consequences of these uprisings have changed the regimes of many organizations in the Middle East and remained quite significant, even almost a decade after many of them ended.
This article is giving information about the transformations and democratization in the Middle East, mostly covering the significant parts of the Spring and the contemporary age with additional information including some of the well-known leaders of the countries after the Spring
Regime Shift of Tunisia
The protests in Tunisia started in the last month of 2010 and resulted in a surge of political and social turmoil, which caused long-time President Ben Ali’s displacement, followed by the removal of the 1959 Constitution. Ben Ali’s Party disbanded, and the political transformation of Tunisia commenced. Elections for National Constituent Assembly held on on October 2011, Ennahda, an Islamist party led by Rashid Gannouchi, won the vote with around 40 percent. Composition of the interim government, which is called “Tunisia Troika.” They had dominance in the Assembly that charged for the draft of the country’s new constitution.
The greatest challenge for Tunisia was to respond to the needs of democracy, freedom, and better living conditions with social and financial equality. National concerns remained at the center of political attention. Do people of Tunisia have better conditions today? It is possible to say that it is not as bad as it was before the Spring, while it is not possible to state that they have achieved high standards. The living conditions, freedom, and democracy are still the concerns of the country, such as social and, most importantly, economic affairs.
The Tunisian economy stayed in the ranks of the most unfree for more than a decade, belying the hopes of the 2011 Arab Spring for greater liberalization. GDP growth for the past five years has been relatively tepid.
After The Change
After the shift in political leadership, Tunisia’s foreign policy was unlikely to change substantially because the coalition partners were on the same page, agreeing that the cooperation with Arab countries and European Union had to remain as priorities. Nevertheless, a more vigorous strategy planned for the Tunisian economic recovery, as applying more active and close relations with strategically and financially reliable countries. The Troika’s understanding was a diversified foreign policy, fostering more robust relations with emerging economies such as India, Brazil, China, In addition with their links to Turkey and Qatar, which has been increasing their impact throughout the country.
Which parts of a nation’s history get remembered and which ones are to be forgotten might seem an abstract question. But getting the official history right about people who were marginalized, abused, exploited, or nearly wiped out is a prerequisite to building a pluralistic and democratic political system. Tunisia is almost ten years on from its revolution, but it’s still struggling with what came before that.
The protests that occurred in Tunisia was the starting point of the Arab Spring. It spread to the other countries in a short time and caused many other changes in those regions.
The “Spring” That Started in Tunisia Spread to Egypt and Syria
In Egypt, Cairo’s Tahrir Square was the site of almost 20 days of massive protests that made tens of thousands of Egyptians collectively asking their president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down. Massive protests ultimately forced him to step down after ruling the country for 30 years. The revolution led to an age of political chaos and uncertainty in Egypt, which continued to suppress its citizens.
The dream of democracy also established in Syria, where the peaceful pro- democracy protesters were met with government tyranny. After the Syrian government killed and jailed Arab Spring protesters, the country divided within dissensions, and sectarian violence broke out. Civil war soon followed. Foreign interference has failed to stop the war, and it removed more than half of all Syrians and killed up to half a million people. Everything became more complicated during years and we have came to the point that Syria is one of the significant problems in the Middle East.
What has the “Spring” Achieved?
The “Arab Spring” has named by American conservative commentators, which has been debated as imperfect as a definition.
The Spring showed to the states and the world that people had enough by the freedom restrictions, democracy problems, and the constraints.
With massive protests and showing their desires of the way of living to the world, people caused big changes in the Middle East that are covering hundreds of changes. It is obvious that they had achieved changes at some extend but what are the main changes remained and did not collapse, are the governments better? That is a question that has to be answered in a detailed way, which can also be seen from different perspectives. The Spring has brought chaos in advance and, another question is what happened to the leaders of the Middle East after the Spring?
What happened to some of the famous Leaders of the Middle East After the Spring?
Hosni Mubarak was not a popular vice president before he expected Egypt’s head office after the death of Anwar Sadat, which was an assassination Notwithstanding the low profile of his, he displayed skill at diverting political unrest at the house, positioned himself as a crucial ally of Western governments. Mubarak was known as notorious for his regime as a leader for human rights violations and corruption.
The Spring spread to Egypt at the beginning of 2011. Mubarak removed from his position after 18 days of the revolution that centered in the capital, Cairo. Mubarak was the first dictator to face trial in the wake of the Spring after two months and was charged with conspiracy in various deaths and stealing the state’s money.
Originally, Mubarak sentenced to a lifetime in prison with his inner circle, including the minister of interior affairs of Egypt.
He has moved to a hospital from prison because of the interests regarding his health. In March 2014, he had released from the hospital detention and moved to his mansion, which is luxurious suburbia located in the northern part of Cairo. Despite the concerns and the situation of Mubarak and his family, his sons were getting seen around the city too often. Mubarak has recently died because of kidney failure on February 25th. Hosni Mubarak was one of the significant figures of the Middle East.
Gaddafi was long one of the Arab world’s most notorious and inconstant figures. After taking power in 1969. He has known as a pan- Arabist who aided terrorism plans upon the West with Libya’s oil wealth, including many affairs that caused the deaths of countless people.
After anti-government gatherings spread to Libya in February 2011, Gaddafi responded to the people with particular brutality. Thousands of protestants and civilians have killed. NATO intervened in response, supporting change the wave of the revolutionaries against the regime. Gaddafi was killed brutally in October 2011, under extraordinary circumstances and, the government of Libya originally stated that he was killed in an exchange of shooting. However, the video footage regarding his death emerged shortly after, exposing a bleeding and seemingly unarmed Gaddafi being abruptly forced into a truck. Some conspiracy theorists around the world and people are claiming that Gaddafi’s death was a well- organized plan, a fiction to make the people of Libya and the entire world to believe that he died while he actually did not. There are many ideas about what he is doing today if the claims are true. These are only unproven claims. What is known according to the sources is that his net worth was two hundred billion dollars when he died in 2011. Various sources are claiming different scenarios about the money he has left, and it is a prominent issue that requires extensive investigations.
Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali
The Arab Spring started in Tunisia in December 2010, when some young fruit merchants have set themselves on fire in response to the police harassment. Public outrage had overthrown President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali ina short time, who had led Tunisia for 24 years. Similar to the other dictators ousted by the Spring, Ben Ali was a powerful man who had imprisoned his enemies and let corruption. Unlike other dictators of the Spring, he was allowed to leave the country in January 2011, leaving for Saudi Arabia with his family. Ben Ali has been living in Jiddah since 2011 and has played no role in Tunisian politics and its transition to democracy. Later that year, he and his wife Leila Trabelsi were sentenced to prison for 35 years because of the economic crimes.
Even though he has not returned to Tunisia to face these charges, he released a statement in 2016, in response to the public attention of Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission, confirming that his regime had committed crimes, faults, and injustices.
3 Impacts of the Spring on Middle East
Outrage among youth with the unemployment plus bad living circumstances were the fundamental parts that started the Spring. The national contest on commercial policy has taken the back seat in most countries, as opposing political groups fight over the division of authority. Meantime, continuing uncertainty discourages investors and scares off foreign visitors. Displacing corrupt leaders was a great move for the future, but common society remain a long time away from discussing real reforms to their financial possibilities.
2-Expansion of Political Movements
The Middle East saw an outburst of political movements, especially in the nations where the revolutions successfully removed the corrupt leaders. Many political parties, local community groups, and the media have launched. In Libya, where all political organizations(parties) were banned for tens of years under Qaddafi’s regime, hundreds of political parties attended to the 2012 elections. The result of the election was exciting but also divided and shifting political landscape. Voters in appearing democracies that created in a better way after the Spring has surprised the people by giving them choices. It is possible to state that a better democracy is waiting for the next generation. However, the function and the quality of the regime might be questionable.
3-Complexity and Chaos in the Region
The collapse of the old order led to armed conflict in some nations. The regimes in the region did not give up quickly, while the opposition did not work to form a united front.
The opposition in Libya concluded with the success of anti-government insurgents swiftly only due to the interference of the NATO coalition and Gulf states. The rebellion in Syria, which is one of the most restrictive Arab regimes, fell into a cruel civil war held by outside interference.
The “Arab Spring” was a group of protests that eventually resulted in regime shifts in nations such as Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. Not every single one of the actions could be considered victorious in the savvy of freedom and democracy that led the people to stand against the governments. The long-term, corrupt leaders have overthrown, democratic movements and actions have started, and the Arab states, overall, reformed in a better way. It is not possible to state that they evolved as a perfect system, but they have had significant progress.
Given the significant impact of the Spring throughout north Africa and the Middle East, it’s normal to misremember the series of large and impactful political and social progress arguably began with a single act of resistance.
“Freedom and independence is my character”
– Mustafa Kemal Atatürk