The Arab Spring of Northern Africa – Situation Update

Status in Summer 2012

Waves of revolutionary protests and demonstrations in the Arab community have spread throughout the Middle East since last year. As of February of 2012, the rulers or Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia have been forced to step down. Protests in Algeria, Jordan and Morocco have also broken out as the call for fair government is spread. As the summer goes on, it seems these countries are progressing in the right direction.

History of Arab Spring

Civil resistance was most often used by implementing protests, rallies and marches. Social media was also used to show the truth about what was happening in countries that have Internet censorship. The response from authorities has been violent. The protestors, in turn, have rallied right back with their own form of violence. The Arab Spring has been likened to the anti-Communist revolts in 1989 which occurred mainly in Eastern Europe. The disconnect between little government reform and more educated people is also considered a catalyst for Arab Spring.

Tunisia

The protests started in December of 2010 and lasted until January of 2011. The main concerns of the protestors were government corruption, poverty-like living conditions and restrictions on their freedoms of speech. As a result, Political prisoners were released, Prime Minister Ghannouchi stepped down and the political police disbanded. Despite the civil resistance that the crowd used, authorities still shot tear gas at the crowd to control them. On June 15, 2012, more protests about the media’s exaggerated take on the Tunisian revolts took place in downtown Tunisia but were considered peaceful.

Egypt

Egypt’s protests began in January of 2011 and were successful in February of 2011. Violence was common for the Egyptian protestors as evidenced by the 846 casualties. President Mubarak and his family were prosecuted for killing protestors and his presidency was overthrown. The Constitution was also suspended and democratic elections were held to find a replacement president, Mohamed Mursi. On June 24, 2012, protestors arrived at Tahrir Square to condemn the military and its grab for power by electing Mursi. The Muslim Brotherhood is adamant that their candidate was elected fairly.

Yemen

From January 2011 to February 2012, Yemen protestors called for the overthrowing of their autocratic government. Sparked by the Arab Spring, uprising protests became violent resulting in over 2,000 casualties. The Prime Minister Mujawar and President Ali Abdullah Saleh were forced to step down from power. Democratic elections were held and former vice president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was elected. In May of 2012, a suicide bomber killed 90 people near the presidential palace. The attack found weaknesses in Yemen’s security forces. In June of 2012, another suicide bomber killed Major General Salim Al Qatn.

Libya

In August of 2011, Libya’s government was overthrown after a 7 month long revolt. Rebels who were against Gaddafi created their own government but Gaddafi refused to step down from his position. Gaddafi used Libya’s air force, despite his call to a ceasefire, in order to wage war on the Rebels which resulted in 25,000 casualties. President Gaddafi was overthrown and later captured and killed. On June 19, 2012 Libya was supposed to hold democratic elections to select a new president but it has been postponed until July 7, 2012.

Syria

Over a year has passed since Syria began their revolt. As of July 2012, 15,000 casualties were reported as a result of civilians getting shot. The increase in violence is rampant as Damascus and Aleppo were attacked by suicide bombers. Protestors are calling for the resignation of the government and Parliament officials and for the formation of the Free Syrian Army. As of June 20102, President Assad is saying that they will face a real war, which leads authorities to believe that the struggle will be ongoing.

Many of these protests sprang from dictatorships, violation of human rights or corruption within the government. The growing unrest in these countries has caused their economy to take a turn for the worse. Food and oil prices are expected to rise in the future as a result of these protests and government reforms. As the summer continues, it seems these countries are headed in the right direction for their political future.