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The Arab Spring: Between Success and Failure Proposal

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Updated: Jun 17th, 2022

Introduction

From the early 2010s, different Arab countries experienced unprecedented cases of uprisings, anti-government protests, and armed rebellions. The primary trigger of such unrest was the low living standards experienced in most of the affected nations. Some of these events attracted the attention of authorities, thereby resulting in numerous deaths and injuries in most of the affected countries. Each revolution took a different path due to the existing factors, expectations of the involved parties, and the influence of external forces. The purpose of the proposed study is to analyze and identify the factors and approaches that explain the failure and success recorded in some of the affected countries. The study will also examine the role of political culture, organization of protests, and civil society in supporting or affecting the intended political change.

Proposed Argument and Research Questions

The Arab Spring of the early 2010s was a widespread upheaval that took place in different Arab countries, including Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and Libya. The citizens of these nations had become unhappy with the recorded levels of bureaucracy, poor government, and reduced levels of stakeholder involvement in leadership. Other key concerns included ineffective policymaking processes and the absence of civilian empowerment. Such situations compelled most people to rise against the government and consider new ways of demanding equality and improved living standards (Masoud, 2018). Unfortunately, some of the authorities chose to respond ruthlessly by arresting civilians and even killing others. The level of violence increased significantly with some regions experiencing unprecedented regional conflicts, insurgencies, and civil wars.

Among the people protesting, most of them wanted to replace the government and focused on an increased level of democracy. Most of the citizens in the affected country focused on a new form of life and were empowered to engage in political decision-making. However, large-scale violence or conflict emerged in specific nations as a result of the uprising (Mushtaq & Afzal, 2017). For instance, the Syrian Civil War and the domination of the ISIL could be attributable to the protests recorded in Syria. Egypt would record a leadership crisis that affected the experiences and lives of many individuals (Tayem et al., 2018). Consequently, the affected nations experienced increased cases of economic hardship, instability, and poor living conditions.

The case of Tunisia is quite different since the people were able to vote in a democratic process that resulted in the adoption of a progressive Constitution in 2014 (Tayem et al., 2018). This achievement has been associated with increased levels of human rights, equality, and empowerment of the people in this North African nation. The government would eventually become decentralized and ensure that more people can engage in policymaking processes. These issues reveal that some factors could have triggered the failure or success of the protests in the recorded countries (Mushtaq & Afzal, 2017). A detailed study can result in the identification of some of the approaches and situations that triggered different results in most of the affected countries. The selected research questions are presented below.

  1. Which factors, situations, and factors could successfully explain why each of the Arab Spring revolutions took place?
  2. Which approaches explain the failure and success of such protests in different countries?
  3. Do civil society and political culture dictate the organization of protection and the path to political change?

Definition of Concepts

  • Arab Spring: A series of uprisings and protests recorded in the 2010s against most of the Arab governments.
  • Civil strife: War recorded between two organized groups in the same state or region to pursue their unique interests.
  • Revolution: A sudden change in political organization and structure emerging from the success of a group that has been oppressed for a specific period. This outcome is associated with civil unrest and armed rebellion (Kudlenko, 2015).
  • Political change: The outcome recorded when the leaders in a given country lose power or the emergence and installation of a new government (Masoud, 2018).
  • Protests: Actions and statements people consider to disapprove or object to something or situation.
  • Civil society: The third aspect of a given society that focuses on the issues affecting the people in a given society.
  • Political culture: Established sentiments, beliefs, and attitudes giving meaning and order to the established political process.

Methodology

A detailed methodology will be needed to support the completion of the intended study and answer the outlined research questions. A qualitative design is the most appropriate to support the targeted research study. The scholar will target most of the studies completed within the past five years (Masoud, 2018). The analysis will identify some of the primary factors and situations that led to the Arab Spring in its subsequent aftermath. The study will examine the role of civil societies and how the existing political culture influenced the outcomes of most of the revolutions.

Literature

Past research findings have tried to expose and analyze some of the forces that led to the events and uprisings experienced in different parts of the Arab world. Acemoglu et al. (2018) indicated that the apathy and distrust in the established governance systems triggered such protests. Within a short period, a wave of unrest and protests emerged in North Africa and across the Middle East due to issues of legitimacy and people’s living conditions. Most of the involved individuals were focusing on the best ways to support the introduction of democratic governments (Mlambo et al., 2019). These citizens relied on the power of handheld devices and social media platforms to share their views and communicate the best strategies to transform their life experiences.

Most of the citizens were keen to react to a political culture that existed in most countries before 2010. A study by Dunne (2020) revealed that most of the people in the troubled states were unhappy with the police brutality, had experienced increased cases of corruption, and leading poor lives. Sofi (2019) acknowledges that the Arab Spring movement would become one of the most recognizable events in the region. Scholars and researchers were keen to study some of these uprisings and understand most of the contributing factors. For instance, Alduhaim (2019) indicated that the reduced level of economic development was responsible for the recorded revolutions. Most of the people were concerned that the government had done very little to improve their experiences and living conditions. Another undeniable attribute that compelled many people to fight for a better society was that of political legitimacy.

Most of the monarchs in place were viewed as ineffective or incapable of empowering the targeted people to achieve their maximum potential. According to Kudlenko (2015), the existing authoritarian regimes had consolidated political powers in the hands of a few individuals. Consequently, the governments of the day were not keen to provide freedoms to the citizens. Most of the earlier protests were met with violence and increased levels of human rights abuse. The past of some the countries, such as Yemen and Syria, were associated with increasing cases of repression (Saidin, 2018). The individuals were keen to engage in protests and show their anger. Most of the affected individuals were focusing on new ideologies and political systems that would take them closer to their economic and social goals.

In Libya and Egypt, public anger was high due to various factors attributable to the government’s ineffectiveness. For instance, Saidin (2018) identified corruption, inequality, diminished rights and freedoms, and lack of jobs as some of the obstacles that required immediate and sustainable solutions. The affected people demanded a new form of leadership that was capable of supporting the restoration of both national and individual dignity. Corruption also featured prominently on the list since the elites were engaging in malpractices that resulted in increased levels of inequality. The poor continued to suffer while the rich were widening their opportunities and financial resources (Dunne, 2020). The recorded gaps in social mobilities and economic gains encouraged most of the people to protest and focus on a new form of governance. The challenges of corruption and inequality were also critical in influencing such developments.

While most of these past scholarly studies have focused primarily on the unique factors that led to these events in the Arab world, very few researchers succeeded in describing the approaches and situations that contributed to either failure or success in most of the countries. For instance, Fahmi (2019) observed that the existing political culture formed the basis for supporting the organization of protests and guiding most of the citizens to focus on the best outcomes. For instance, Egypt had recorded numerous cases of violence and abuse of human rights before. Such challenges encouraged most of the people to collaborate and form new alliances to protest and ask for maximum governance reforms. Additionally, Devarajan and Ianchovichina (2017) identified political culture as a unique determinant of the actions and goals of the people who were asking for political change. Despite the existence of such approaches and factors, most of the countries recorded divergent results after the end of the protests.

The issue of social media featured prominently in many types of research completed to understand the factors that led to the uprising and its eventual success. Many people were able to access different sources of information than ever before. They also relied on emerging platforms to share ideas and focus on the best approaches to achieve their potential. In another study by Haas (2017), it occurred that most of the countries were different n terms of their political and cultural histories. For instance, Tunisia’s success was attributable to the presence of a diverse population that practiced a gentler and less violent form of Islam in comparison with the countries across the Middle East (Mushtaq & Afzal, 2017). In Egypt, the citizens were purely Arab and strong believers in Wahhabism. Some of these factors dictated the level of violence, the response by the government, and the support gained from other peaceful nations across the Arab world.

In Tunisia, the promoted concepts of liberty, women equality, empowerment, and fairness had encouraged the new leaders to support a more democratic process and address most of the evils recorded in the country before. However, the violent past of Syria, Iraq, and Yemen affected the effectiveness of the protests, thereby setting the stage for more bloody protests and wars to emerge (Rivlin, 2019). The issue of political culture has appeared in different words to describe the possible forces that led to the emergence of these protests ad their subsequent outcomes. For instance, countries characterized by a violent and authoritarian political structure were unable to record positive gains (Mushtaq & Afzal, 2017). However, the issue of pre-existing civil society has been missed in most of the completed studies and how the factor could have dictated the aftermath of such protests in different countries.

Gaps and Proposal Contribution

The literature presented above has described some of the factors and forces that led to the Arab spring. It has also provided additional insights to explain why Tunisia succeeded in its attempt to transform the existing system of governance. During the same period, some countries were unable to benefit from such protests and support the establishment of better regimes (Haas, 2017). However, the available information does not provide adequate insights to explain the role of civil society, existing political culture, and approaches towards supporting the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the protests (Fahmi, 2019). These gaps in literature explain why the intended study is necessary. The proposed analysis will examine what past scholars have presented and present additional ideas to put the Arab spring within its proper context.

The completion of the targeted study will, therefore, present numerous insights to understand the role of political culture, civil society, and other enabling factors in supporting and leading reformatory transitions. These forces have been observed to support the introduction of new policies and governance systems in advanced democracies (Arafa & Armstrong, 2016). The acquired information will make it easier for students of Arab history to learn more about the Arab Spring and how it reshaped governance ideologies in the Middle East and North Africa. The findings could also result in the formulation of a superior model for guiding future leaders and stakeholders to engage in actions that can result in pro-democratic regime changes (Rivlin, 2019). This study will offer a detailed explanation of how political culture and the history of civil society could explain the different outcomes of each revolution that took place throughout the Arab Spring (Arafa & Armstrong, 2016). The insights will guide more governments in the region and across the globe to consider new ways of transforming leadership and empowering more citizens to lead high-quality lives and eventually pursue their social, cultural, and economic goals.

Conclusion

The Arab Spring was a major regional upheaval that exposed the malpractices that different governments had supported for decades, such as corruption, oppression, and ineffective leadership. Most of the people were unhappy with the existing systems and structures since they failed to meet their economic and social demands. However, some countries were unable to achieve their potential by witnessing a change in leadership. The proposed study will offer additional insights to address the gaps in the literature and describe how the history of civil society and political culture influenced the outcomes of the revolutions in different countries across the Arab world.

References

Acemoglu, D., Hassan, T. A., & Tahoun, A. (2018). . The Review of Financial Studies, 31(1), 1-42.

Alduhaim, A. (2019). . Journal of Social and Political Sciences, 2(3), 630-635.

Arafa, M., & Armstrong, C. (2016). “Facebook to mobilize, Twitter to coordinate protests, and YouTube to tell the world”: New media, cyberactivism, and the Arab Spring. Journal of Global Initiatives: Policy, Pedagogy, Perspective, 10(1), 73-102. Web.

Devarajan, S., & Ianchovichina, E. (2017). . The Review of Income and Wealth, 64(s1), S5-S25.

Dunne, M. (2020). . Journal of Democracy, 31(1), 182-192.

Fahmi, G. (2019). . Chatham House.

Haas, M. L. (2017). The Arab Spring: The hope and reality of the uprisings (2nd ed.). Routledge

Kudlenko, A. (2015). . Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, 23(2/3), 169-179.

Masoud, T. (2018). Journal of Democracy, 29(4), 166-175.

Mlambo, V. H., Zubane, S. P., & Mlambo, D. M. (2019). . Journal of Public Affairs, 20(1), e1989.

Mushtaq, A. Q., & Afzal, M. (2017). . Journal of the Punjab University Historical Society, 30(1), 1-10.

Rivlin, P. (2019). . MDC.

Saidin, M. I. S. (2018). Rethinking the ‘Arab Spring’: The root causes of the Tunisian Jasmine Revolution and Egyptian January 25 Revolution. International Journal of Islamic Thought, 13, 69-79. Web.

Sofi, M. D. (2019). . Contemporary Arab Affairs, 12(3), 41-64.

Tayem, F. A., Al-Majali, R. M., & Al-Habashnah, S. A. (2018). . Journal of Politics and Law, 11(3), 98-110.

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