The Arab revolution, a pro-democracy, modern day rebellion that has engulfed most of North Africa and the entire Middle East region since 2010, has been illustrated as a devastating revolutionary wave that has brought about the over-throw of many political regimes in its wake. The downfall of the Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, and Muammar Gaddafi governments and the riots of displeasure of Algerian and Moroccan citizens are the result of a deep revolution of these realities This phenomenon has had a great effect on the political advancement, and democratic supremacy in the Arab world in particular. Many scholars argue that, although the political, environmental, and socioeconomic aspects and variables that brought about, and sustained the revolutions in the affected countries appear similar in nature, they vary from one country to the other. Recent findings however, show that the inability of governments in these affected states to respond adequately to the growing demands of political inclusion, good governance, job creation and policies of inclusive growth played fundamental roles in awakening the people’s consciousness, resulting in the revolutions, this paper draws a comparative analysis of the key factors and variables that gave rise to the Arab Spring.
Many political scientists argue that the prevailing patterns of the Arab revolution have many underlying causes that vary sharply by country, For instance, religion, tribal, ethnic, sectarian, and regional ideology differences within each given nation (Rand. p. 126). Nonetheless, an examination of the broader demographic, economic, and security trends in the MENA region shows how these critical factors are in shaping public anger and discontent. The results from this analysis also show the critical role of the quality of governance, internal security systems, Justice systems, and progress in social change in shaping and dealing with each nation’s problems
Though different in many aspects, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt share a range of similarities with regard to the socioeconomic and political origin of the revolts as well as the contemporary phase of transition. Despite the issues, being brought to light by different reports claiming that there is no reliable way to assess the deep underlying structural impact of factors like demographics and economics on unrest. A number of skeptical technocrats claim similar efforts to underline these factors, like the Arab Development report warned nearly a decade ago, however, a combination of factors such as dictatorships or absolute monarchy, demographic pressures, human rights violations, extreme poverty, government corruption, economic decline, unemployment, and several demographic structural factors such as a great percentage of educated, but displeased youths within the population have been identified as having led to the objections. However skeptical these scholars may be, no one can realistically address the current upheavals in key countries and the MENA region without considering such factors.
Unequal distribution and income fluctuations create instability
During the making of this analysis, a common critic always came up, in some regions of political science, some researchers claimed that the data involved are uncertain, and many proceed the current period of unrest, but it is clear that economics and inequities in the distribution of wealth are among the key forces driving unrest in the MENA region.
The critics may hold some fact in their opinions, The Middle East GDP has lagged considerably behind other regions in the world. The per capita GDP for the North American region grew at a much greater rate than the per capita GDP in the Middle East between 1980 and 2010. During this time the North American GDP per capita nearly quadrupled, while the Middle East GDP per capita grew, expanded by just 25 times its original value. In 2010, the per capita GDP in North America was $47,111, while the average per capita GDP in the MENA region has been just $6,488 (Livingston. p. 23). However, the rate at which the regional GDP lagged behind is what is considered as the major factor or the Arab spring. Furthermore, while Kuwait had a GDP per capita ratio of $46,970 in 2012, Jordan’s ratio was $4,788, additionally, the per capita oil export income of Qatar, the MENA state with the highest per capita income is 25 times the per capita income of Algeria, the MENA State with the lowest income. The MENA region had wealth disparities among themselves and this was a sign that the region had financial issues despite them being oil-producing countries.
Figure 1: this graph shows the degree that the Middle East region has performed over the years against other regions
Economic adversity can be tolerated if the citizens believe there are a better days ahead, or have a sense that the burden is at least to some extent equally distributed (Morgeson. p. 159). This was not the case in the MENA regions. Political analysis show that the previous governments-led development gave place to a friendship based capitalism that benefited only a small minority. For example, in Egypt, new corporate elite’ entities collaborated with the Hosni Mubarak regime to accumulate fortunes unthinkable to the majority of the population living on 2 dollars a day. Additionally, in Tunisia, no investment arrangement was closed without approval of the ruling family.
Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia for Selected Years
Sources: (Lambsdorff .p. 212 )Author’s Compilation from Transparency International (CPI Report for Selected Years)
From the above data, it is evident that through the decade all three countries got worse in terms of corruption ratings. This showed that though the degree of corruption was different amongst the countries, it was a predominant factor in all countries and led to the revolution.
The economic situation in the Arab region could steady over time under a capable and credible government, however, by the end of the 20th century nearly all Arab dictatorships were outright bankrupt both ideologically and morally. For example, as the Arab Revolution happened in 2011, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had been leader of government since 1980, his Tunis counterpart Ben Ali had ruled since 1987, while the self-proclaimed imperial leader Muammar al-Qaddafi ruled over Libya for about 42 years (Rand. p. 3).
A majority of the population were deeply skeptical about the authenticity of these ageing regimes. Although until 2011, most citizens remained submissive out of fear of the government security services, and as a result of an apparent lack of better option or fear of an Islamist takeover.
Bungled State Response
The response of Arab dictator leaders to the mass protests was predictably brutal and unlawful, going from removal from office claims to panic, from law enforcement brutality reform that came too little too late. Attempts to calm the protests through the use of force flop spectacularly (Rand. P.130). For example, in Libya and Syria the conflict between citizens and law enforcement led to civil war. Every funeral for the casualty of state violence only fueled the anger and attracted more people to the street.
Even though backed in a number of countries by youth activist groups and unions, the riots were initially largely impulsive, not linked to a fastidious political party or an ideological wave. This phenomenon made it difficult for the old regimes to discourage the movement by simply arresting a few rabble-rousers, a situation that the law enforcement forces were entirely unprepared to encounter.
National Appeal of the Arab Revolution.
The explanation for the collection appeal of the Arab Revolution came from its universal message. A major motto of the protestors in the Arab world was “ash–shag lurid isa at an–nixam” that was translated to English, as ‘the will of the people is to bring down the regime’. This message called on the Arabs regains their country away from the fraudulent elites, a perfect fusion of patriotism and social message. The demonstrators wielded national flags, along with the iconic rallying call that became the symbol of the uprising across the region. The Arab revolution united, though for a brief time, groups of secularists and Islamists, both left wing groups and supporters of liberal economic improvement, middle classes, and the underprivileged
Arab Youth: Demographic Time Bomb
Most earlier Arab regimes for years had sat on a demographic time bomb. Results from the UN Development Program revealed that the population in Arab states had more than doubled between 1975 and 2005 to about 314 million people. For example, in Egypt, two-thirds of the inhabitants are under 30 years of age. Political and economic progress in most Arab countries simply could not cope up with the astounding increase in the youth population, as the ruling select group incompetence aided to lay the causes of their own end.
The MENA region has an extended history of struggle from leftist groups to Islamist radicals for a change of political structures. However, the protests that began in 2011 could not have developed into a mass phenomenon had it not been for the prevailing discontent over unemployment and low living standards. The rage of university graduates required driving taxis to make a living for themselves, and families struggling to afford for their children exceeded ideological divisions.
Massive conflict due to unemployment were largely responsible for the can, stir up in places like the Gaza Strip (40% unemployed), Afghanistan (35% unemployed), Yemen (35% unemployed), Libya (30% unemployed) and other Middle Eastern and North African countries.
The first group protest in Egypt was publicized on social media site Face book, by an unidentified group of protesters, who in a few days were able to attract a large number of supporters (Howard, and Muzammil. P.4). the social media platform provided a powerful recruitment tool that aided the activists to outsmart law enforcement.
In conclusion the Arab spring phenomenon that brought about extraordinary changes that have taken place in the Arab world since 18 December 2010 have changed the landscape of Arabic or Islamic politics. Many scholars will argue their facts that despite the spontaneous reaction of the revolution each country had a variation of revolutionary aspect that sparked the unrest. However, through this analysis, it is safe to say that there are similarities in the factors that brought about political change in the affected states. A combination of factors such as dictatorships or absolute monarchy, demographic pressures, human rights violations, extreme poverty, government corruption, economic decline, unemployment, and several demographic structural factors such as a great percentage of educated, but displeased youths within the population have been identified as having led to the objection.
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