The chain of dominoes has brought down the regimes of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt, may topple Gaddafi in Libya… and other presidents and monarchs are in peril. What has happened in these other countries? Welcome to the Spineless Liberal’s fact-file on the Arab Spring.
Divided up into four, including a brief description of the protests and possible outcomes – in this final section, we cover the majority of remaining countries of the Arabic world.
A country governed by a one-party system under military control between its independence in 1962 and 1989, has since moved onto a multiparty system where the military takes precedence. The relatively open economy has meant huge trouble since the economic crisis, and the welfare system that provided the government with popular support has been shaken. 23% live below the poverty line, 20% of youths are unemployed, and there is a mass housing crisis.
Protests spread quickly but also ended quickly – the government lowered the price of staple foods, and poorly organised protesters agreed. After the Tunisian protests a National Coordination for Change and Democracy was founded, but the resulting protests had little actual effect. The government did lift the 19-year-old state of emergency, but true democracy is a long way away.
Self-immolation is common these days in protests. Going back to Jan Palach and Thích Quảng Đức, and many others like them, we now have at least four attempts in Morocco alone.
After weeks of protests, the 20th of February saw at least 37,000 Moroccans rally in Rabat, capital of Morocco, to demand political reform and that King Mohammed VI give up some of his powers. King Mohammed VI is an absolute monarch, and appoints key members of the government.
The King has responded claiming that he will create a comprehensive constitutional reform, to improve democracy and the rule of law in the country. It is unlikely that much else will change, as allowing limited protest, and having widespread support among large sections of the population will keep him firmly in place. Much of the protests has not targeted him.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has announced he will not run for a third term in 2014, in order to avoid unrest – despite this, two thousand protesters took to the streets in Kut on the 16th of February, and many other cities have seen violent protest. 35 have died.
The Kuwawi Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was incredibly clever when he gave the entire citizenry free food rations and a grant of $4,000. Officially this is in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the liberation fom Iraqi troops, and the 50th anniversary of the state’s independence but this was probably a move to stop the population protesting. Some bedouin and opposition groups have protested, but not to any major degree.
General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has received major criticism, most obviously from Yacoub Ould Dahoud, a protester who burned himself near the Presidential Palace on the 17th of January. Hundreds did take to the streets on the 25th of February in the capital Nouakchott.
Sudan has also faced protest, with one death. These are however, not as influenced by the Jasmine Revolution, as by the secession of South Sudan from the north. President Omar al-Bashir has announced he will not run in the presidential election in 2015, thouh this was already probable.
On the 13th of February, many youths marched in the capital of Mogadishu, protesting against the Transitional Federal Government, led by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, and against the Islamist insurgent group Harakat al-Shabaab Mujahedeen, led by Sheikh Ibrahim “al-Afghani”.
The unrecognised autonomous state of Somaliland also saw protests against the government on the 6th of March in Las Anod.
The United Arab Emirates have mostly seen a collection of intellectuals petitioning the leader, President Sheikh Klahifa to bring about reform of the Federal National Council (Parliament), and all free elections.
Protests in Djibouti have mostly revolved around asking President Ismail Omar Guelleh not to seek another term. However, the thousands of protesters soon were met with violence, and by the 24th of February, opposition leader Bourhan Mohammed Ali said he feared that momentum had been lost.
Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa managed to survive an attempted coup d’etat, which resulted instead in the arrest of at least 30 senior military officials.
66 political opponents (including Qatari personalities, ruling families and 16 members of Sheikh Hamad’s own ruling family) signed a statement containing serious accusations against the Emir – including relations with Israel, working with the US to create discord among Arab nations, corruption and social injustice.
A state practising Confessionalism (where government posts are reserved for members of certain social groups), where Hezbollah mas a major presence. Its government fell in late 2010, following threats of Hezbollah resurgence.
Protests have mostly taken place to support the concepts of the Cedar Revolution, and to demand the disarmament of Hezbollah. Many protesters want to replace the sectarian government with a secular government.
…and that appears to be most of the Arab world’s protests. As you can see, most are on a relatively minor scale, but there are interesting moves in the Maghreb, Kuwait, Qatar and Lebanon. I doubt any of these governments will fall in this present revolutionary period, but perhaps in the future we could see change.
- You: Gulf Arabs discuss Iran ‘meddling’ (france24.com)
- Morocco must leave Western Sahara | John Hilary (guardian.co.uk)
- The Muslim sovereign who needs our support (thejc.com)
- Analysis: Arab revolts set to transform Middle East (reuters.com)
- Qatar’s decision to send planes to Libya is part of a high-stakes game (guardian.co.uk)
- Moroccan government appeals to teachers to protest peacefully (cnn.com)