It has been more than five years since the Arab Spring broke out in Tunisia in December 2010 that followed other Arab countries springing their own brand of calls for greater equality, greater freedoms, more economic opportunities, and even greater access to basic social services.
Five years passed and the Arab Awakening is still pretty much going on with many experts weighing in on their views whether this should be aptly called the Awakening of the Arab world or more appropriately the continuing nightmare of millions of people in this part of the globe. The wave of mass protests that spread from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya and Yemen to Syria and other Arab states was primarily centered on the need for political and socioeconomic changes in these countries.
If any, the Arab Spring brought worldwide attention to the plight of many Arab peoples especially among the oil-rich nations in the Gulf. The world became cognizant of the many inequalities that exist in these nations especially among women who were never really given the chance to have their voices heard.
The marginalization of women in the region is strongly ingrained in the Arab world severely limiting their opinions and viewpoints when it came to political and socioeconomic decisions. Such wide disparity between genders is not a unique Arab feature, unfortunately. However the events of the Arab Spring brought to fore the grievances of these marginalized members of society. In general, the Arab Spring brought forth a series of changes in both the political, social, and economic infrastructure of these nations.
Even Arab monarchies have to give some form of concession just to quell the rising discontent in their respective nations. While others resorted to subtle military tactics, the Arab Spring marks the period when the local population decided to stand up for their individual rights and to fight for the same basic freedoms that all other people the entire world are enjoying. The events of the Arab Awakening have been likened to a symbol of hope for people who simply want to be treated as human beings.
And, the Bad
Sadly, not much has changed since 2010-2011. While dictators and authoritarian rulers were overthrown, there were no significant gains in terms of ensuring equality for everyone. Regimes have come and gone, the military often employing restrictive tactics to quell any discontent, and the economic conditions are way worse than ever. If prior to the Arab Spring the economic disparity between the ruling elite and the common people was deemed wide, now the rift has grown wider; albeit the minority that controls the majority of the nation’s wealth is now significantly more in number. Additionally, the Arab Spring has spurred the escalation of uprisings from certain groups within specific countries.
Many experts believe that ISIS expansionism is closely associated with the principles of the Arab Spring. Because the 2010-11 events were more a call for greater freedoms and the establishment of the people’s identity and inherent rights, many now believe that these concepts were morphed into significantly more radical ideas to come up with the ISIS threat – in the guise of creating a caliphate for Islam’s true people.
The Arab Spring also set forth in motion the growing disparity between Sunni and Shia Muslims giving the whole Arab conflict a religious overtone. And with Washington now engaging Tehran on a more open basis, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Zionist Israel are getting more alarmed. And if one can get two diametrically opposed beliefs to agree on one thing, then the issue must be very serious. Five years on and many nations all over the Arab world are still in chaos.
Five years on and many still do not have the economic opportunities they are longing for or even the social equality they are aspiring for. Does this mean the Arab Spring was nothing more than a display of mass action without long-term beneficial effects?
Only time will tell if there will ever be peace in the Arab world.