Experts: Political elites, not citizens, emerged victorious from the Arab Spring

Egyptian women and the Arab Spring (2/2) | DW Documentary

Experts: Political elites, not citizens, emerged victorious from the Arab Spring

10 years ago, massive protests began in Egypt, which became part of; the Arab Spring – the most powerful movement against authoritarianism in modern history

10 years ago – on January 25, 2011, massive protests began in Egypt, which became part of the “Arab Spring” – the most powerful movement against authoritarianism in modern history. Its consequences still remain the subject of bitter controversy among political observers and residents of the region. Many participants in those events are now living in exile due to fears for their safety, as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi continues to suppress political opposition, like his predecessor Hosni Mubarak..

Tunisia was the first country where mass protests led to a change of government ten years ago. The main reasons for which people took to the streets were high unemployment, primarily among young people, social inequality, as well as permanent corrupt and authoritarian regimes..

In a commentary for the Russian Voice of America Service Alexander Crowter (Alexander Crowther, Florida International University, an expert at Florida International University, recalls:

“The goal of the Arab Spring was not so much to establish a democratic government as a government that would care more about people and prioritize the well-being of its own citizens.”.

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Tunisian President Ben Ali, in an attempt to rectify the situation, then dismissed the government, announced early elections and promised to deal with corruption, but it was too late, and soon he had to flee to Saudi Arabia.

After Tunisia, protests took place in Algeria and Libya. In the latter, the permanent leader of the “people’s Jamahiriya” Muammar Gaddafi was seized by demonstrators and killed. Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad was “luckier” – with the support of Russia, he remained in power in a practically destroyed country, from which millions of fellow citizens were forced to flee.

“In Syria and Yemen, the civil war is raging, cities are being destroyed. Third players have appeared there: Iran is present both in Yemen and in Syria. Russia is also supporting Damascus. The second country where the situation worsened was Libya. As a result of the civil war, it is essentially divided into three parts. And here we see external players: Turkey and Russia, ”notes Alexander Crouter.

Civil protests swept across Jordan and Mauritania, Sudan and Oman, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The uprising in Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital on January 25, 2011 led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak. Events, however, did not go as protesters had anticipated, leading to Mubarak’s successor, General al-Sissi, who jailed journalists, human rights activists and other dissidents..

“Everything started optimistically in Egypt: Mubarak was overthrown, the first free presidential elections were held, which, however, were canceled by the Egyptian military with the help of the Saudis and other external players. As a result, people in Egypt today live under an even harsher dictatorship than that of Mubarak. The Arab Spring showed a desire for change. But the structures against which people rebelled turned out to be quite stable, “he noted. Doug Bandow, expert of the Cato Institute (Doug Bandow, Cato Institute).

Alexander Crowther notes: the winning side of the Arab Spring was the local political elites, and the losers were the citizens of these countries.

“The regimes were able to use all available methods to stay in power.

The biggest threat in the region is Iran. Its citizens would like to get rid of the theocracy because it doesn’t care about them. The theocracy takes care of itself, as does the Revolutionary Guard Corps. In this regard, they are very similar to the Cubans: the military captured the commanding heights in the economy and really exist only in order to enrich themselves, “he said..

Experts note: the claims that democratic countries will never appear in the Middle East is not true: there are a number of states in the Western Hemisphere that said the same thing, but they proved the opposite..

“I see no reason why the countries of the region cannot be democratic. There is an educated population, a desire for freedom, a desire for self-government. Tunisia and Jordan are positive examples of change. – emphasized Doug Bandow. “Kuwait, for example, has an elected legislature. Positive change is taking place in extraordinarily complex societies, but we are seeing countries emerging across the region with greater freedom – freedom of speech and political opinion. It gives me hope. “.

Alexander Crowther notes that the US could do more to strengthen democratic institutions in the countries of Northern Sahara and the Middle East.

“I think that the United States at one time was unable to help democratic organizations in these regions. I have participated in the democratization of some countries in the Western Hemisphere, and I know what the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute and other organizations are capable of, “he said..

Doug Bandow hopes that the new White House administration will pay close attention to the problems in the regions where the Arab Spring took place.

“President Biden and those around him, such as Anthony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, have demonstrated a commitment to human rights in the Middle East. Of course, there is some realism in relations with the governments of countries in the region, but, nevertheless, the United States, which is more concerned and ready to speak out on these issues, and not just agree with what is happening, can provide an impetus in relations with these countries. And this could be useful for creating and strengthening civil society “.

  • Alexander Yanevsky

    Journalist. Graduated from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. He has worked on Channel 1 + 1 and Channel 5, on the Voice of America since 2014, and was one of two Voice of America correspondents covering the 2018 Russian presidential elections from Moscow. He pays attention to the topic of US-Ukrainian and US-Russian relations. Actively covered the case of Paul Manafort and Maria Butina.

    [email protected]


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Experts: Political elites, not citizens, emerged victorious from the Arab Spring
Experts: Political elites, not citizens, emerged victorious from the Arab Spring

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