The Arab Spring Uprisings
The term “Arab Spring” refers to a wave of anti-government demonstrations, upheavals, and armed rebellions that began in the early 2010s and spread throughout a significant portion of the Arab world. The social and political changes during the Arab Spring still impact the region. Although it is too early to tell what the long-term ramifications of the Arab Spring will be, its immediate effects have had a wide-ranging and diverse impact across the Middle East and North Africa. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, which resulted in the toppling of existing administrations and the replacement of those administrations through free and fair elections, were regarded as short-term successes.
On the other hand, the long-term implications will be an increase in sectarianism. Proxy battles will partly cause this and will also contribute to the extension of the proxy battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It would appear that the multitude of disagreements that have surfaced as a direct result of the Arab Spring will not be resolved soon because there is no end in sight (Sadok et al., 2019). Consequently, the only good thing that came out of the Arab Spring in 2011 was that it finally led to the implementation of free elections.
It can be challenging to find optimism ten years after the popular mass revolt that would become known as the Arab Spring began in January of 2011. Even though thousands of people, mainly young people, took part in rallies against the authoritarian leaders of Middle Eastern countries, not much has changed. The people of Tunisia overthrew a dictator and created a representative democracy, but the country is still in its infant stages and faces many challenges. Still, other nations, such as Saudi Arabia, appear to have been unaffected by the uprisings (Sadok et al., 2019). In contrast, others, such as Egypt, have replaced one dictatorial ruler, Hosni Mubarak with another, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The initial events of the Arab Spring were similar to a single massive Woodstock, but there was a distinct lack of organization and planning for the future. Islamists surged to prominence due to the power vacuum, and the remaining autocrats responded by tightening their grip on power. It was shown in Egypt when the military suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood.
Arab Spring in Tunisia
The unrest in Tunisia was precipitated by several factors, including high unemployment, high food inflation, widespread corruption, a lack of political liberties (such as freedom of speech), and poor living conditions. The demonstrations were Tunisia’s most significant outbreak of social and political disturbance in the past three decades (El-Haddad, 2020). They resulted in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries, the majority of which were the direct result of actions taken by police and other members of the security forces. On December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in the act of protest, which was the spark that set off the protests. They were the catalysts that led to the overthrow of Ben Ali on January 14, 2011, when he formally resigned from power after fleeing to Saudi Arabia after being in power for 23 years.
On December 17, Mohamed Bouazizi, a young Tunisian, set himself on fire in front of a municipal office in the town of Sidi Bouzid, located in the middle of Tunisia. This caused discontent across the nation. His predicament, which came to represent the unfairness and economic misery endured by many Tunisians under the Ben Ali dictatorship, sparked nationwide rallies against high unemployment, poverty, and political repression (Barakat & Fakih, 2021). His struggle became emblematic of the unfairness and economic misery that plagued many Tunisians during the Ben Ali government (Matta et al., 2019). When the Tunisian government’s response to the protests resulted in the deaths of dozens of protestors amid skirmishes with police, the tactic was widely criticized amidst charges that excessive force was employed. The Tunisian administration attempted to end the turmoil by resorting to violence against the protesters and offering political and economic concessions.
The Arab Spring had a negative impact on the overall economy of Tunisia. The country’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was lower than that of Synthetic Tunisia in 2011, 2012, and 2013, respectively, by an estimated US$ 600 (5.5 percent), US$ 574 (5.1 percent), and US$ 735 (6.4 percent), respectively (Becheikh, 2021). Even though Tunisia is a young democracy, the revolution changed the mindset of the leaders, showing just how important democracy is to the people and in terms of governance. Today, Tunisia takes great pride in being a growing democracy characterized by good governance and concern for the welfare of its citizens.
Despite the political and social tensions, there has been a consolidation of democratic transition in Tunisia. When considered collectively, a few features of Tunisian society indicate that the country will eventually become a fully functional democracy (Khondker, 2019). Among these are the existence of an exceptional civil society, the awareness and knowledge of human rights, and a generally positive societal attitude toward women. Civil society in Tunisia is an important aspect that distinguishes the country from others in the Arab world, such as Syria, Iraq, and Iran. As a result of government persecution and the polarization of society, civil societies in these countries have faced and continue to face various obstacles. Tunisia, on the other hand, possesses a civil society. The country’s social structure was one factor contributing to the growth of Tunisia’s civil society.
Barakat, Z., & Fakih, A. (2021). Determinants of the Arab spring protests in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya: What have we learned? Social Sciences, 10(8), 282.
Becheikh, N. (2021). Political stability and economic growth in developing economies: Lessons from Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt ten years after the Arab Spring. Insights into Regional Development, 3(2), 229-251. Web.
El-Haddad, A. (2020). Redefining the social contract in the wake of the Arab Spring: The experiences of Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. World Development, 127, 104774.
Khondker, H. H. (2019). The impact of the Arab Spring on democracy and development in the MENA region. Sociology Compass, 13(9), e12726.
Matta, S., Appleton, S., & Bleaney, M. (2019). The impact of the Arab Spring on the Tunisian economy. The World Bank Economic Review, 33(1), 231-258.
Sadok, W., Schoppach, R., Ghanem, M. E., Zucca, C., & Sinclair, T. R. (2019). Wheat drought-tolerance to enhance food security in Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab Spring. European Journal of Agronomy, 107, 1–9.