The battle for the Arab Spring by Lin N. and Alex Warren
The battle for the Arab Spring by Lin N. and Alex Warren
In late 2010, a revolt against the government of Tunisia began. The protest, which was resentment towards dictatorship, corruption, unemployment, security personnel brutality, was just a beginning of what spread through the Middle East and North Africa. In the book, “The Battle for the Arab Spring,” by Lin N. and Alex Warren, the authors explore the cause of the uprising, the results in different countries, and the post-revolution challenges that these countries face. The examination of the core factors that lead to different outcomes in these countries regarding the ease and difficulty of change of the regimes comes in handy. This paper takes a case-to-case analysis to examine the possible cause of the differences.
By looking at the results from Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria, there is clearly a difference in the results. The change in regime, for instance in Tunisia which was peaceful, was accomplished within a short duration, with its dawn in December and ending in January 2011, following the fleeing of the president. The loss of life was negligible as compared to these other countries. In contrast, the ousting of Mubarak in Egypt followed a series of unprecedented events resulting in civil wars among the participants. The case of Syria is by far the worst. The revolution failing to achieve its intended result so far and has led to a civil war in the country.
These states have similar history on leadership; each having had a long-serving leadership, which led to dictatorial or rigged election results.
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In these countries, the media space is suppressed and centralized to ensure they play to the tune of the ruling parties. The authoritarian leaders include their families in running the state affairs. The major government business controlled by those in or close to the ruling families (Noueihed and Warren 33-37). The room for democracy has been flat with the leaders ensuring there is no space for liberal views of the regime. Most people have grown to accept the state of affairs, as any attempt to oppose the government, results in imprisonment, or the parties exiled from their country. The region religion being mainly Islamic has lead to stability among the different tribes and other smaller religions.
The Arab uprising was inevitable from the factors befalling the protests. The economic condition in these states was getting worse by each day. With the increased cost of living, resulting from lower harvests, the increasing prices of oil, civil strife across the Arab world experienced before the 2011 protests. For instance, in Egypt, the textile workers staged demonstrations to complain about the increasing prices as opposed to the low wages they earned. The increased prices of price saw significant growth of the oil-rich countries in the region while the opposite applies to the countries with no oil. Combined with the already harsh living conditions that included a skyrocketing unemployment rate, the resentment against the ruling bodies increased thus 2011 was a place to express their rage. With the growing breach amid the wealthy and the poor, the Tunis protests acted as the benchmark of the way forward among nations undergoing similar situations (Noueihed and Warren 24-27).
The Jasmine upspring saw 338 deaths in Tunisia, which is minimal compared to that in Egypt where at least 846 people lost lives with over 6000 injured. In Syria, varying reports show that over 350,000 people have lost their lives. The protests in Tunisia lasted for a shorter duration compared to the later. The transition in Tunisia was by far peaceful compared to that in Egypt that was accompanied by violence while in Syria, it has resulted in a continuing civil war. The differences in these results showcase the imminent difference of the approach and the strength of the people.
McAdam proposes cognitive liberations; these fall in handy in explaining the differences in the outcomes of these uprising tin these countries. According to McAdam, in his book, “Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930- 1970,” he defines cognitive liberation as the shared belief among the people in a movement that they can achieve their aim during the vulnerability of the regime, (106; 24-26). Therefore, in trying to find the answer to the difference outcomes in these states we can base our analysis on this model.
Tunisia, which is the mother of this Arab spring, as can be established must have had a higher cognitive liberation. All people are putting their differences aside, worked together towards the goal that they wanted. The course to seek change, resulting from the many challenges that the masses faced, gave people a sense of corrective responsibility to make a change. With the notion that the power itself rested among the people and they only could affect any positive change helped them achieve their desired results at minimal cost. The fact that the majority belong to the Sunni Muslim and according to Noueihed and Warren (95;11-12) this minimized the possibility of ultra-violence. The minimum violence experienced was overcome by the higher cognitive liberation among the people. Resulting in positive results.
The peaceful transition in this state would also be analyzed from the point of the strength of the authoritative state, the question here is whether the change was as a result of the regime being vulnerable. At the onset of the protests, the living cost of the people was way beyond the control of the government. The gross domestic growth was not sufficient to facilitate the improvement of the life of the citizens. The resentment among the people was even. Thus with the bureaucratic and corrupt government being in a hard situation to cool down the growing concern about the state of the nation, it lost its moral authority and ability to counter the facts, (Noueihed and Warren 27-29). These can be seen in Tunisia, where the Army refused to interfere with the demonstrations forcing the President to flee. The administration was incapable of holding up the protests over a long time. When a nation has no funds and the only source is through revenues then its operations will be crippled. The relations of one nation with other countries are also critical in enabling the government to overcome the challenges. The fact that Tunisia was undergoing difficulties that most of its friendly countries were also countering minimized the chance of interference. Thus the regime chance of survival was negligible.
Another core factor is the civil society’s strength; in general, these parties have for a long time been shut by the ruling regime. The existing communities being under close control by the government. These groups play a significant role in the education of the public. Thus they get to understand their role in ensuring that the government is put in check, to achieve efficiency and effectiveness. In Tunisia, the continued growth in the civil society voice in public and the disclosure of the fraudulent deeds arose. Another major player is the media. The media plays a crucial role in the society in airing their ideologies, according to Todd Gitlin in his book, ‘The whole world is watching’; the media mostly misrepresents the view of the people. With the press desire to ensure the images and news fit to their points of view and the notion of keeping things as they are, (Todd 2-4). In Tunisia, this is reflective of the situation where the centralization of the media and the continued threat against the journalist resulted in control of what the public got. The emergence of new media houses in the Arab region that went against the prevailing notion in the recent past ensured that the people got uncensored news and would debate and question the regime, such is the rise of Al-Jazeera that podcasts in the region. Enabling, ease in the receipt and sharing of information among the people (Noueihed and Warren 45-47).
Thus with increased knowledge and understanding among the people, the results were achieved through a peaceful mode, by continued sharing of information among the people on the progress. A sense of togetherness and focused towards a common cause resulted.
According to Noueihed and Warren (48;78), the continued growths of Institutions in the region constituted to a base for the uprising success. The Islamic identity of the people for instance in Tunisia was essential in achieving a Peaceful change of regime. Most people being Sunni Muslims brought about togetherness and division among this group was almost impossible. Enhanced with a high cognitive liberation this, ensured to a large extent a peaceful transition.
In Egypt, the common course to follow suit to the Arab spring in the nation brought about the change desired. The togetherness in seeking this goal played a pivotal role leading to Mubarak resignation. The common belief for change ensured that all people from different religions gave a great cognitive liberation providing their desires were achieved. However, in contrast to the case of Tunisia, the after month revelation resulted to the people going back to Tahrir Square. The difference this time being a division had erupted within the people; the Muslim Brotherhood had taken the protests to serve their agenda resulting in the use of whatever means to get power. Cultivating opposition among different parties leading into inter-religion conflicts resulting to loss of life. The division following the new political systems was also eminent.
The Egyptian case is entirely different with the country having a large economy, the continued rise in the price of foodstuffs, and the increase in the level of unemployment, the general increase in the living standards lead to a rise. The government being in a distress lead to meet its mandate resulted in an urge among the general population of the need to change the ruling parties. The UAE companies purchased major businesses in Egypt, the international investment flow of funds to Egypt show an increase in the level of corruption with the proceeds ending in the hands of the ruling class and their families, (Noueihed and Warren 27-28).
The civil society in Egypt suffered due to a long-term suppression of the space, the level of participation in the country in comparison to other nations. The civil society is not independent of the government. However, the rise in the demand for human rights was part of the flagship that resulted in the successful change of the regime. The civil society mainly pro-democracy had massive street protests against corruption before the 2011 protests. The universities play a significant role especially as it plays a role in the empowerment of the masses. The media space to the built up was narrow though with a widespread internet access and the role of media houses such as Al-Jazeera the dispersion of news was enhanced. Giving a two-sided point of views (Noueihed and Warren 47-50). With the increased government opposition, the protests had a better chance to be accepted by the populations. However, the division of the part civil society after month led to continued demonstrations. The continued rally thus extended the duration of achieving the desired results. The desires for more by the civil society lead to a crackdown of the governments that followed thus still minimizing their space. Resulting to continued protest.
The rise of new political parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood played a significant role in the change, though the self-centeredness brought about the prolonged protest as it resulted in divisions among the different groups.
The case of Syria, which has led to more negative results than the intended. The cognitive liberation is quite small as compared to that of Egypt and Tunisia. The movement failure to successfully remove President Assad from power. Thus, the belief that they could make that change that they need to be diminished. Thus as time went by they found that that desire would not be achieved as in the neighboring countries. The failure to take advantage of the vulnerability within the short time frame gave an open space for the other nations to interfere resulting in a civil war that continues.
The Syrian government had the same difficulties as the other countries above, the corruption in the administration and the favor to the protests. With the Syrian case, there emerged different groups, the army defectors forming Free Syrian Army, whereas the minority Alawite religious siding with the president. The incidents, intensifying the situation leading to a long-standing revolt. Following the division, foreign interference has resulted, with the Russian government backing President Bashar al-Assad and the Saudi Arabia supporting the rebels. Amid this division, the end of this uprising is uncertain.
The fact that civil society is mostly state controlled as a result of the emergency rule in 1960 (Noueihed and Warren 157). At the start of the uprising, there were a higher number of civil societies that were majorly focused on the welfare of the women and children. The civil society in Syria is trying to educate the masses on the need to maintain peace in their quest for a democratic transition. However, the civil society has had many difficulties in achieving their mandate as the protests have taken a different direction with both parties armed. Some are playing the role of leadership in regional levels. With the division, the impact of the civil societies in limited thus contributing to the continued struggle.
With the conflict resulting in the development of alignment to different parties, the achievement of the goal has suffered a major blow. The fall in the coordination of the target for the uprising thus has resulted in a civil war within them, thus preventing the attainment of the liberation that was intended.
In conclusion, it has been established that the Arab Uprising has led to entirely different outcomes in the different countries. While change has been experienced, the difference in the strength of the regimes, the actions of each movement and the institutions in these countries have lead to varied results in this nations. There is a need for the society to have a common desire and to put their differences aside to achieve any significant results. The authors of, ‘Battle for the Arab Spring’ brings out clearly the different factors that caused the difference in the results. Among them, the strength of the authoritarian administration, the civil society and the institutions of the Islamic identity.
Gitlin, Todd. The Whole World Is Watching: Mass Media in the Making & Unmaking of the New Left. Berkeley: U of California, 1980. Print.
McAdam, Doug. Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1982. Print.
Noueihed, Lin, and Alex Warren. The Battle for the Arab Spring: Revolution, Counterrevolution and the Making of a New Era. New Haven: Yale UP, 2013. Print.
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