The Arab Spring: Change and Resistance in the Middle East

The Arab Spring: Change and Resistance in the Middle East

The Arab Spring: Change and Resistance in the Middle East

The Arab Spring: Change and Resistance in the Middle East

Excerpt

The so-called Arab Spring unexpectedly erupted in late 2010 and early 2011. It was characterized in the beginning by huge and largely peaceful popular protests in a number of Arab countries against long-standing entrenched regimes. It began in Tunisia, where a young man trying to eke out a living as a street vendor engaged in an act of defiance against the government borne of frustration and disillusionment over the socioeconomic malaise and political repression in his country. He lit himself on fire. Little did he know that he would light a fire across the region. Soon mass protests forced the Tunisian president to leave office. In neighboring Egypt, also suffering from many of the same systemic maladies, throngs of protesters gathered at Tahrir Square in the center of Cairo, eventually forcing President Husni Mubarak from power. Protests sprang up elsewhere in the Arab world from the Persian Gulf to North Africa, most spectacularly leading to the death of Libyan President Muammar al-Gadafi following a campaign of armed popular resistance supported militarily by NATO and the Arab League. Then the regime in Syria, which many had thought would weather the storm of the Arab Spring, began to encounter mass protests. The regime in Damascus, however, unleashed a brutal crackdown against the opposition, displaying a resiliency that confounded the prognostications that it, too, would soon fall.

All the while, countries in and outside of the Middle East, such as Iran, Israel, Turkey, the United States, and Russia, that have a significant stake in what the Arab Spring means in terms of their own interests and objectives, look on in fascination and confusion as to how to respond to the tremendous . . .

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