Arab spring revolutions
The Arab Spring has been the most significant event that has swept over some of the countries in North Africa and the Middle East in the course of this decade. These events have had monumental implications for the politics of the Arab world. Because of this revolution, governments in the region have been toppled over by protestors or forced to engage in reforms to end autocratic rule. Regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya have fallen because of the Arab Spring while the Syrian government is struggling to maintain its hold on power amid violent opposition from a large section of the country. While the Arab Spring Revolutions were initiated by the self-immolation action of the Tunisia street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, deep-seated political discontent and economic grievances made this revolution widespread. AbuZayyad states that the Arab Spring was bound to happen due to the various social, political, and economic grievances that the citizens of the Arab world faced for many decades (127).
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The rule in the countries where the revolutions occurred was characterized by a gross violation of human rights and a lack of individual freedoms for the citizens. In most of the countries, the government did not respect the rule of law and the people whom the government deemed as threats could be arrested and imprisoned without due process. In Libya, Gaddafi was notorious for torturing dissidents and political activists in the country. The disposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak is accused of engaging in widespread corruption and stifling any opposition using the police force (Blanche 26). The oppression of the regimes is evident from the excessive force used against peaceful protests and civil disobedience by rulers in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. The citizens of these countries were inspired to revolt against these oppressive governments and advocate for better governance.
Lack of democracy
In addition to the oppression by the government, the lack of democracy also triggered the Arab Spring in most of the countries. AbuZayyad notes that Arab dictators in Yemen, Egypt and Libya ruled with an iron fist and denied their citizens a political voice (127). The citizens had put up with these authoritative governments for many years and they were at last ready for a change. Salem demonstrates the political causes of the Arab Spring by noting that the citizens of the affected nations were tired of the lack of democracy in their country and they reached a point where they declared to the regimes “the power should be in our hands; you are not our caretakers” (137). Citizens therefore took to the streets to demand for representation in the political affairs of their countries.
The Arab spring has resulted in a number of significant problems for the countries affected.
The most significant problem has been the rise in casualties due to the violence in most of the countries. Protestors in all the countries that have been involved in the Arab spring have been met with some opposition by the government (Jones 57). While some governments have been accommodative of protestors, most have engaged in violent reprisal of the protests. Blanche documents when Syrians took to the streets in protest, the regime of President Assad has engaged in a brutal crackdown on protesters leading to thousands of deaths (27). This led to more protest up to the point there the opposition formed rebel groups and took up arms against the government troops who are now involved in the strife. Because of this, there are many casualties every day as the government forces attack the opposition who are demanding for a change in the country’s governance.
The Arab Spring has led to civil wars in some countries leading to the displacement of many. In Syria, the revolution has led to an armed conflict between the government forces and opposition rebels. Most people have had to flee their homes in order to avoid the gunfights and bombings that take place in the country every day. The BBC reports that up to 1million Syrians have been turned into refugees (Knell 1). The situation for these refugees is dire due to the lack of funding and most of them are struggling to get the basic necessities.
Destruction of Economy and Society
The economies of the countries affected by the Arab Spring have been devastated. Knell documents that the economic situation is most dreadful for Syrian civilians as the country has endured many months of armed conflict in the country (1). The cash flow into the country has reduced dramatically since most business activities in the country have halted. Citizens have therefore had to suffer from a lack of food resources and money. Egypt is facing high rates of inflation and a reduction in foreign investment as investors stay out of the country due to the uncertainty that has followed the post-Mubarak years.
The Arab spring also has caused instability in the region by inspiring revolutions and unrest in other Arab nations. The Arab Spring began in Tunisia following the actions of the Mohamed Bouazizi whose tragic self-sacrifice catalyzed the revolution in his country. However, this revolution did not remain in Tunisia but it quickly spread to other Arab countries. Forstenlechner et al. assert that because of this revolution, it is no longer a question of if the old monarch’s will fall but rather of when they will fall (54). The disruptive nature of the Arab Spring has not been confined to the countries that have experienced the popular uprisings. The Arab Spring has emboldened extremist groups to confront the government and try gain political power in their countries. Forstenlechner et al. document that following the victories of the Muslim Brotherhood groups in Tunisia and Egypt, radical local Islamist groups in the UAE started to become more politically active in the country (55). This is a course for alarm since such groups often adopt extremist stands and are anti-Western.
One solution to the Arab Spring phenomena is modeling the countries in the Arab land after nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Western European Countries and the USA. The model countries highlighted here have not experienced the kind of popular revolt that the Arab Spring countries experienced. Forstenlechner et al. observe that even as the revolution swept across the Arab lands, there was little popular demand for political change in the UAE (54). While the political systems implemented by the Western nations the UAE differ significantly, both have democracy as their basis.
In western nations, the democracy is implemented by means of voting for the desired leaders through the ballot. In the UAE, the “majlistyle” democracy that is comprised of hereditary tribal leaders is used to ensure that the concerns of the citizens are heard and responded to. The two differing democratic systems ensure that people have a forum within which to make their demands and receive responses from the leaders. The leaders of the Arab countries that had their governments overthrown by the revolution were authoritative rulers. The citizens were not allowed to express their needs and any act of dissent was punished forcefully.
“Change or you will be changed” were the last words that came out of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid AlMaktoum at the Arab League in 2004. How did he foresee the Arab spring? Were other leaders walking on the wrong path? The answer to both questions is ‘Yes’. There is a reason why the United Arab Emirates did not take part of the Arab Spring. The rules of equality it implemented to secure the nation’s safety and the citizens’ well-being. By focusing on the wellbeing of the citizens, the nation will ensure that the economic prosperity of everyone is assured (Pundak 57).
The economic conditions of the citizens played a big role in the beginning of the revolution as is evident from the case of Tunisia where the revolt was started by the street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi who set himself on fire in protest of the treatment he received from local officials and his poor economic conditions. The economic component of the revolution is confirmed by Forstenlechner et al. who observe that the Arab Gulf countries that have provided enough jobs and housing for their citizens have been saved from experiencing the Arab spring (54).
The Arab Nations should work towards fostering their unity and develop problem-solving mechanisms for their problems. With internal problem-solving measures in place, the Arab league would have a way of reaching solutions without involving the West. The Arab League consists of 22 Arab Nations with an aim to draw relations closer between them along with the goal of coordinating collaborative effort to resolve struggles as a single effective entity. Over the years, the Arab League proved to be capable of promoting peace and unity in the region. Examples would be the adoption of the “Charter of Joint Arab Information Action” and the “Arab Peace Initiative”.
Before reaching out to the supreme powers of the world, the Arab nations could settle issues internally with disciplined execution and effective collaboration. With more than 400 million individuals in all member states, a change is feasible. There is a need for fixed legal rules governing the transfer of power, which should reflect the popular satisfaction of the people. In addition, the subordination of all political parties to the citizens’ satisfaction should be linked to the legitimacy of their status. Introducing democracy to a region as such is an absolute necessity.
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When the Arab League is unable to sort out the problems, the individual nations should reach out to the international community for assistance. The international body such as the UN is capable of coming up with solutions to the solutions that nations face. These bodies also offer a forum for fair negotiation between parties and through this, consensus can be reached. Arab countries can therefore present their problems to this body and solutions can be achieved. The international bodies implement binding resolutions that the conflicting parties must abide by. In cases where military action is required, the UN can authorize the action with the support of the international community. The toppling of the Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, was done with the support of the international community.
Evaluation of solutions
The complete change in governance of Arab Nations will not occur easily since some regimes are keen to maintain their hold on power. Even though the democratic system is the most desirable one for the nations, most Arab rulers are not open to these drastic changes. However, the commitment of the citizens of the countries to bring about change has prompted most countries to implement reforms in their system. Most of the governments have therefore started to demonstrate greater transparency and respect of law. The needs of the people are also addressed by most of the Arab nations since governments have learnt from the Arab Spring that they must remain accountable to their citizens. Failure to do this will result in the legitimacy of the government being questioned and this might lead to a widespread popular uprising against it.
The division between members of the Arab League is a substantial problem. The Effectiveness of the Arab League has been adversely impeded by disputes among the association members. There has been stiff competition for leadership of the League especially between the two regional powers: Egypt and Iraq (BBC 1). In addition to this, hostilities exist between some of the countries due to ideological or political differences. These weak divisions and weak enforcement mechanisms have prevented the Arab League from taking consistently effective action (Williams and Colleen 47).
In other words, these Arab nations pull themselves backwards by highlighting fundamental differences. The BBC highlights the lack of credibility by the Arab League by noting that when the association sent its monitors to Syria, neither the government nor the opposition sought to welcome them (1). The Arab nations need to iron out their differences and form a cohesive and strong association. Such a League will be better placed to solve the problems that the individual countries can encounter.
The perception that the international community is not concerned about the well-being of the Arabs presents a major problem to the third proposed solution of reaching out to the international community. This perception is driven by the fact that most Western countries support Israel in Middle East affairs even when it is evident that Israel is in the wrong. The historical relationship between Arab countries and Western countries has also led to apprehension since the Western countries such as Britain have colonized Arab countries or exploited them because of their natural wealth reserves. As long as such suspicions exist, Arab countries will be unwilling to rely on the international community to act as a mediator in their affairs.
This paper set out to discuss some of the problems caused by the Arab Spring and propose solutions to ensure that the situation does not occur again. It began with nothing that oppression and lack of democracy were the most significant causes of the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring has been a positive development in the Arab world at large, as oppressive regimes have been overthrown. However, the revolution has led to some negative effects such as the killing of many people. It has also created a refugee problem in some of the countries and led to the destruction of the economy and society. Solutions to the Arab world problem are therefore necessary.
This paper has proposed that the nations of the Arab world should be modeled after Western countries and the UAE. It has also suggested that the Arab league should work to solve internal issues and if this does not work, the countries should reach out to the supreme powers of the world to collaborate and tackle these issues. The paper has noted that these solutions might face some problems due to the lack of unity among Arab Nations and the lack of trust in the intentions of the international community. However, these problems can be overcome to ensure that the stability and future development of the Arab land are guaranteed.
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Blanche, Edward. “The Dark Side of the ‘Arab Spring’.” Middle East 432.1 (2012): 26-29. Academic Search Complete. Web.
Forstenlechner, Ingo, Emilie Rutledge and Rashed Salem Alnuaimi. “The UAE, The ‘Arab Spring’ And Different Types Of Dissent.” Middle East Policy 19.4 (2012): 54-67. Academic Search Complete. Web.
Jones, Seth G. “The Mirage of The Arab Spring.” Foreign Affairs 92.1 (2013): 55-63. Academic Search Complete. Web.
Knell, Yolande. Syria Conflict: Refugees Number A Million, Says UN. 2013. Web.
Pundak, Ron. “From The Arab Peace Initiative To The Arab Spring And Back.” Palestine-Israel Journal Of Politics, Economics & Culture 18.1 (2012): 113-118. Academic Search Complete. Web.
Salem, Walid. “The Arab Spring.” Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics & Culture 18.1 (2012): 136-147. Academic Search Complete. Web. 13 Apr. 2013.
Williams, Paul and Colleen Popken. “U.S. Foreign Policy And The Arab Spring: Ten Short-Term Lessons Learned.” Denver Journal Of International Law& Policy 41.1 (2012): 47-61. Academic Search Complete. Web.