Academic journal article Hemispheres

Post Arab Spring Thoughts: The Middle East between External and Internal Mechanisms (Political Economic & Social Forces)

Academic journal article Hemispheres

Post Arab Spring Thoughts: The Middle East between External and Internal Mechanisms (Political Economic & Social Forces)

Article excerpt


Arabs for years have been divided, dealing with a seemingly endless succession of blows. Arab Nationalism has remarkably transcended boundaries and borders have become a major source of conflicts. Suddenly, an atmosphere of revolution has come to light in this region, which has been described for long time as idle and immune towards transformations, catching everyone off-guard, toppling regimes and shaking the thrones of others; sweeping away the status quo and re-gathering all those concerned under one new name: The Arab Spring. This event has made it clear that the borders separating political units are no longer solid.

For almost three years now, the Arab world has been the scene of an epic paroxysm; the greatest wave of empowerment the world has witnessed for many years.1 Feverish analyses began to mount in an attempt to examine this event: The Arab Spring. Some chose to factor in this context a new foreign conspiracy, aiming at dividing of what is left in the region. Others suggest that the revolution is a long awaited insurrection of dignity, evinced when people have decided to shake the dust of obedience and thus a phenomenon (the Arab Spring) came to pass that was ignited by plain domestic forces. Nevertheless, amidst observers' bewilderment over a fresh set of events, which misrepresented a newly anticipated course of democracy and transformation in the region, new prospects for scholars to address novel hypotheses and theories have come to light. Events have unfolded which pinpoint five evident cases of the Arab Spring; Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria. Demonstrations in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have been colored in a sectarian hue and other demonstrations in Algeria, Oman, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Kuwait and Morocco have not exceeded previous 'regular' protests, similar to many that had occurred in the Arab World before the eruption of the current spate of revolts.

In order to conjure up what has happened in that region, delimiting the scope of our research into well-defined geographical boundaries and well-known geopolitical contours is deemed crucial, especially when adding a brief historical background. In addition, throughout the course of our analysis, the term the "Arab Spring" will be articulated through comparing aspects dovetailing this term into a widely known theoretical framework of revolution. Furthermore, factors (both domestic and foreign) that have inspired, affected and diverted the course of Arab revolution will feature within the course of this paper. Finally, an evaluation and a conclusion of the current status of Arab revolts will be presented in order to give a quasi-accurate prognosis for the future course of events.

The Arab World vs. the Middle East

To start, in today's article we would apply the term the "Arab World" rather than the widespread term the "Middle East". The main reason behind this is to limit the scope of our analysis to specific geopolitical boundaries, due to the continuous disagreements on the exact definition of the Middle East. This fact was clearly referred to by many scholars, like Bernard Lewis who points out the importance of redefining the term the Middle East adding, "we have been always a little vague about the geographical meaning of this expression, which was invented in the west in the early years of this century".2

The term the "Middle East" appeared first in 1902 in an edition of the British journal National Review, in an article by Alfred Thayer Mahan entitled "The Persian Gulf and International Relations", in an attempt to delineate a region from the Mediterranean to India.3 This term was first employed in World War II when Britain established the Middle East Command in Egypt, which had been known previously as the "Near East".4

For a time, the "Near East" was the term used for the Levant, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Jordan, while the "Middle East" applied to Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. …

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