18 December 2010
(4 years, 2 months and 2 days)
|Death(s)||169,307–174,339+ (International estimate, ongoing; see table below)|
The Arab Spring (Arabic: الربيع العربي, ar-rabīˁ al-ˁarabī) is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests (both non-violent and violent), riots, and civil wars in the Arab world that began on 18 December 2010 and spread throughout the countries of the Arab League and surroundings. While the wave of initial revolutions and protests had expired by mid-2012, some refer to the ongoing large-scale conflicts in Middle East and North Africa as a continuation of the Arab Spring, while others refer to aftermath of revolutions and civil wars post mid-2012 as the Arab Winter.
By December 2013, rulers had been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt (twice), Libya, and Yemen; civil uprisings had erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests had broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Israel and Sudan; and minor protests had occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara, and Palestine. Weapons and Tuareg fighters returning from the Libyan Civil War stoked a simmering conflict in Mali which has been described as "fallout" from the Arab Spring in North Africa.
The protests have shared some techniques of Internet censorship.
Many Arab Spring demonstrations have been met with violent responses from authorities, as well as from pro-government militias and counter-demonstrators. These attacks have been answered with violence from protestors in some cases. A major slogan of the demonstrators in the Arab world has been Ash-sha`b yurid isqat an-nizam ("the people want to bring down the regime").
Some observers have drawn comparisons between the Arab Spring movements and the Internet-based technologies in the Arab revolutions.
The term "Arab Spring" is an allusion to the Revolutions of 1848, which is sometimes referred to as the "Springtime of Nations", and the Prague Spring in 1968. In the aftermath of the Iraq War it was used by various commentators and bloggers who anticipated a major Arab movement towards democratization. The first specific use of the term Arab Spring as used to denote these events may have started with the American political journal Foreign Policy. Marc Lynch, referring to his article in Foreign Policy, writes "Arab Spring—a term I may have unintentionally coined in a January 6, 2011 article". Joseph Massad on Al Jazeera said the term was "part of a US strategy of controlling [the movement's] aims and goals" and directing it towards American-style liberal democracy. Due to the electoral success of Islamist parties following the protests in many Arab countries, the events have also come to be known as "Islamist Spring" or "Islamist Winter".
The Arab Spring is widely believed to have been instigated by dissatisfaction with the rule of local governments, particularly by youth and unions, though some have speculated that wide gaps in income levels may have had a hand as well. Numerous factors have led to the protests, including issues such as dictatorship or absolute monarchy, human rights violations, political corruption (demonstrated by Wikileaks diplomatic cables), economic decline, unemployment, extreme poverty, and a number of demographic structural factors, such as a large percentage of educated but dissatisfied youth within the entire population. Also, some - like Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek - name the 2009–2010 Iranian election protests as an additional reason behind the Arab Spring, although there is little documentation to support this assertion. Catalysts for the revolts in all Northern African and Persian Gulf countries have included the concentration of wealth in the hands of autocrats in power for decades, insufficient transparency of its redistribution, corruption, and especially the refusal of the youth to accept the status quo. Some protesters looked to the Turkish model as an ideal (contested but peaceful elections, fast-growing but liberal economy, secular constitution but Islamist government). More broadly, increasing food prices and famine rates associated with climate change may have acted as "stressors" that contributed to unrest in the region.
Tunisia experienced a series of conflicts over the past three years, the most notable occurring in the mining area of
Thousands of protestors gathered in Damascus, Aleppo, al-Hasakah, Daraa, Deir ez-Zor, and Hama on 15 March, with recently released politician Suhair Atassi becoming an unofficial spokesperson for the "Syrian revolution". The next day there were reports of approximately 3000 arrests and a few martyrs, but there are no official figures on the number of deaths. On 18 April 2011, approximately 100,000 protesters sat in the central Square of Homs calling for the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad
Protests in Syria started on 26 January 2011, when a police officer assaulted a man in public at "Al-Hareeka Street" in old Damascus. The man was arrested right after the assault. As a result, protesters called for the freedom of the arrested man. Soon a "day of rage" was set for 4–5 February, but it was uneventful. On 6 March, the Syrian security forces arrested about 15 children in Daraa, in southern Syria, for writing slogans against the government. Soon protests erupted over the arrest and abuse of the children. Daraa was to be the first city to protest against the Baathist regime, which has been ruling Syria since 1963.
On 23 September, three months since the assassination attempt, Saleh returned to Yemen abruptly, defying all earlier expectations. Pressure on Saleh to sign the GCC initiative eventually led to his signing of it in Riyadh on 23 November, in which Saleh agreed to step down and set the stage for the transfer of power to his vice-president. A presidential election was then held on 21 February 2012, in which Hadi (the only candidate) won 99.8 percent of the vote. Hadi then took the oath of office in Yemen's parliament on 25 February. By 27 February, Saleh had resigned from the presidency and transferred power to his successor, however he is still wielding political clout as the head of the General People's Congress party.
After Saleh pretended to accept a Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered plan allowing him to cede power in exchange for immunity only to back away before signing three separate times, an assassination attempt on 3 June left him and several other high-ranking Yemeni officials injured by a blast in the presidential compound's mosque. Saleh was evacuated to Saudi Arabia for treatment, but he handed over power to Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi, who has largely continued his policies and ordered the arrest of several Yemenis in connection with the attack on the presidential compound. While in Saudi Arabia, Saleh kept hinting that he could return any time and continued to be present in the political sphere through television appearances from Riyadh starting with an address to the Yemeni people on 7 July. On Friday 13 August, a demonstration was announced in Yemen as "Mansouron Friday" in which hundreds of thousands of Yemenis called for Ali Abdullah Saleh to go. The protesters joining the "Mansouron Friday" were calling for establishment of "a new Yemen". On 12 September, Saleh issued a presidential decree while still receiving treatment in Riyadh authorizing Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi to negotiate a deal with the opposition and sign the GCC initiative.
 tribesmen and army defectors allied with the opposition on one side and security forces and militias loyal to Saleh on the other.Hashid. Protests continued over the following months, especially in the three major cities, and briefly intensified in late May into urban warfare between Aden, and Taiz In a "Friday of Anger" held on 18 February, tens of thousands of Yemenis took part in anti-government demonstrations in the major cities of Sana'a,  The protests continued in the days following despite clashes with government advocates. Concurrent with the resignation of Egyptian president Mubarak, Yemenis again took to the streets protesting President Saleh on 11 February, in what has been dubbed a "Friday of Rage"., and many protestors held a pro-government rally in Sana'a.General People's Congress while soldiers, armed members of the ,Tawakel Karman that was called for by  others participated in a "Day of Rage" in Aden On 3 February, 20,000 protesters demonstrated against the government in Sana'a,.presidential term in 2013 In response to the planned protest, Ali Abdullah Saleh stated that he would not seek another  A major demonstration of over 16,000 protesters took place in
Protests occurred in many towns in both the north and south of Yemen starting in mid-January 2011. demonstrators initially protested against governmental proposals to modify the constitution of Yemen, unemployment and economic conditions, and corruption, but their demands soon included a call for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been facing internal opposition from his closest advisors since 2009.
In late August, anti-Gaddafi fighters captured Tripoli, scattering Gaddafi's government and marking the end of his 42 years of power. Many institutions of the government, including Gaddafi and several top government officials, regrouped in Sirte, which Gaddafi declared to be Libya's new capital. Others fled to Sabha, Bani Walid, and remote reaches of the Libyan Desert, or to surrounding countries. However, Sabha fell in late September, Bani Walid was captured after a grueling siege weeks later, and on 20 October, fighters under the aegis of the National Transitional Council seized Sirte, killing Gaddafi in the process.
On 17 March, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 was adopted, authorising a no-fly zone over Libya, and "all necessary measures" to protect civilians. Two days later, France, the United States and the United Kingdom intervened in Libya with a bombing campaign against pro-Gaddafi forces. A coalition of 27 states from Europe and the Middle East soon joined the intervention. The forces were driven back from the outskirts of Benghazi, and the rebels mounted an offensive, capturing scores of towns across the coast of Libya. The offensive stalled however, and a counter-offensive by the government retook most of the towns, until a stalemate was formed between Brega and Ajdabiya, the former being held by the government and the latter in the hands of the rebels. Focus then shifted to the west of the country, where bitter fighting continued. After a three-month-long battle, a loyalist siege of rebel-held Misrata, the third largest city in Libya, was broken in large part due to coalition air strikes. The four major fronts of combat were generally considered to be the Nafusa Mountains, the Tripolitanian coast, the Gulf of Sidra, and the southern Libyan Desert.
Amidst ongoing efforts by demonstrators and rebel forces to wrest control of Tripoli from the Jamahiriya, the opposition set up an interim government in Benghazi to oppose Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's rule. However, despite initial opposition success, government forces subsequently took back much of the Mediterranean coast.
Anti-government protests began in Libya on 15 February 2011. By 18 February the opposition controlled most of Benghazi, the country's second-largest city. The government dispatched elite troops and militia in an attempt to recapture it, but they were repelled. By 20 February, protests had spread to the capital Tripoli, leading to a television address by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who warned the protestors that their country could descend into civil war. The rising death toll, numbering in the thousands, drew international condemnation and resulted in the resignation of several Libyan diplomats, along with calls for the government's dismantlement.
Hosni Mubarak and his former interior minister Habib al-Adli were convicted to life in prison on the basis of their failure to stop the killings during the first six days of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. His successor, Mohamed Morsi, was sworn in as Egypt's first democratically elected president before judges at the Supreme Constitutional Court. Fresh protests erupted in Egypt on 22 November 2012. On 3 July 2013, the military overthrew the replacement government and President Morsi was removed from power.
On 10 February, Mubarak ceded all presidential power to Vice President Omar Suleiman, but soon thereafter announced that he would remain as President until the end of his term. However, protests continued the next day, and Suleiman quickly announced that Mubarak had resigned from the presidency and transferred power to the Armed Forces of Egypt. The military immediately dissolved the Egyptian Parliament, suspended the Constitution of Egypt, and promised to lift the nation's thirty-year "emergency laws". A civilian, Essam Sharaf, was appointed as Prime Minister of Egypt on 4 March to widespread approval among Egyptians in Tahrir Square. Violent protests however, continued through the end of 2011 as many Egyptians expressed concern about the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' perceived sluggishness in instituting reforms and their grip on power.
The U.S. embassy and international students began a voluntary evacuation near the end of January, as violence and rumors of violence escalated.
Protests in Egypt began on 25 January 2011 and ran for 18 days. Beginning around midnight on 28 January, the Egyptian government attempted, somewhat successfully, to eliminate the nation's Internet access, in order to inhibit the protesters' ability use social media. Later that day, as tens of thousands protested on the streets of Egypt's major cities, President Hosni Mubarak dismissed his government, later appointing a new cabinet. Mubarak also appointed the first Vice President in almost 30 years.
Inspired by the uprising in Tunisia and prior to his entry as a central figure in Egyptian politics, potential presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei warned of a "Tunisia-style explosion" in Egypt.
On 23 October, citizens voted in the first post-revolution election to elect representatives to a 217-member constituent assembly that would be responsible for the new constitution. The leading Islamist party, Ennahda, won 37% of the vote, and managed to elect 42 women to the Constituent Assembly.
A state of emergency was declared and a caretaker coalition government was created following Ben Ali's departure, which included members of Ben Ali's party, the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), as well as opposition figures from other ministries. However, the five newly appointed non-RCD ministers resigned almost immediately. As a result of continued daily protests, on 27 January Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi reshuffled the government, removing all former RCD members other than himself, and on 6 February the former ruling party was suspended; later, on 9 March, it was dissolved. Following further public protests, Ghannouchi himself resigned on 27 February, and Béji Caïd Essebsi became Prime Minister.
Following the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid, a series of increasingly violent street demonstrations through December 2010 ultimately led to the ousting of longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on 14 January 2011. The demonstrations were preceded by high unemployment, food inflation, corruption, lack of freedom of speech and other forms of political freedom, and poor living conditions. The protests constituted the most dramatic wave of social and political unrest in Tunisia in three decades, and have resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, most of which were the result of action by police and security forces against demonstrators. Ben Ali fled into exile in Saudi Arabia, ending his 23 years in power.
|Country||Date started||Status of protests||Outcome||Death toll||Situation|
|18 December 2010||Government overthrown on 14 January 2011||
Overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali; Ben Ali flees into exile in Saudi Arabia
|29 December 2010||Ended in January 2012||
|14 January 2011||Ended||
||3||Protests and governmental changes|
|17 January 2011||Ended in May 2011||
||2–6||Protests and governmental changes|
|25 January 2011||Two governments overthrown (in February 2011 and July 2013). Ongoing violence.||
Overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, who is later sentenced to life in prison for ordering the killing of protesters. Protests over the imposition of an Islamist-backed constitution by the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi lead to a coup d'état.
(Government overthrown • Replacement government overthrown)
|27 January 2011||Government overthrown on 27 February 2012||
Overthrow of Ali Abdullah Saleh; Saleh granted immunity from prosecution
|28 January 2011||Ended in March 2011||2||Minor protests|
|28 January 2011||Ended||0||Minor protests|
|30 January 2011||Ongoing||
|23 December 2012||Ended January 2014||
||250+||Civil war and governmental changes|
|14 February 2011||Ongoing||
||120||Sustained civil disorder and government changes|
|17 February 2011||Government overthrown on 23 August 2011||
Overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi; Gaddafi killed by rebel forces
|19 February 2011||Ended in December 2012||0||Protests and governmental changes|
|20 February 2011||Ended in March–April 2012||6||Protests and governmental changes|
|25 February 2011||Ended||3||Minor protests|
|27 February 2011||Ended in December 2011||0||Protests and governmental changes|
|11 March 2011||Ended||24||Minor protests|
|15 March 2011||Ongoing||
||191,000+||Ongoing civil war|
|Iranian Khuzestan||15 April 2011||Ended on 18 April 2011||12||Major protests|
|15 May 2011||Ended on 5 June 2011||
|4 September 2012||Ended||0||Minor protests|
|Total death toll and other consequences:||223,335–228,339+ (International estimate, ongoing, > 80% in Syria)||
Summary of conflicts by country
The geopolitical implications of the protests have drawn global attention, including the suggestion that some protesters may be nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Tawakel Karman from Yemen was one of the three laureates of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize as a prominent leader in the Arab Spring. In December 2011, Time magazine named "The Protester" its "Person of the Year". Another award was noted when the Spanish photographer Samuel Aranda won the 2011 World Press Photo award for his image of a Yemeni woman holding an injured family member, taken during the civil uprising in Yemen on 15 October 2011.
During this period of regional unrest, several leaders announced their intentions to step down at the end of their current terms. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced that he would not seek re-election in 2015, as did Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose term ends in 2014, although there have been increasingly violent demonstrations demanding his immediate resignation. Protests in Jordan have also caused the sacking of four successive governments by King Abdullah. The popular unrest in Kuwait has also resulted in resignation of Prime Minister Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah cabinet.
As of September 2012, governments have been overthrown in four countries. Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on 14 January 2011 following the Tunisian Revolution protests. In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak resigned on 11 February 2011 after 18 days of massive protests, ending his 30-year presidency. The Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown on 23 August 2011, after the National Transitional Council (NTC) took control of Bab al-Azizia. He was killed on 20 October 2011, in his hometown of Sirte after the NTC took control of the city. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed the GCC power-transfer deal in which a presidential election was held, resulting in his successor Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi formally replacing him as the president of Yemen on 27 February 2012, in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
The series of protests and demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa that commenced in 2010 has become known as the "Arab Spring", and sometimes as the "Arab Spring and Winter", "Arab Awakening" or "Arab Uprisings" even though not all the participants in the protests are  The protests have also triggered similar unrest outside the region.
The catalyst for the current escalation of protests was the self-immolation of Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi. Unable to find work and selling fruit at a roadside stand, on 17 December 2010, a municipal inspector confiscated his wares. An hour later he doused himself with gasoline and set himself afire. His death on 4 January 2011 brought together various groups dissatisfied with the existing system, including many unemployed, political and human rights activists, labor, trade unionists, students, professors, lawyers, and others to begin the Tunisian Revolution.
In Western Sahara, the Gdeim Izik protest camp was erected 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) south-east of El Aaiún by a group of young Sahrawis on 9 October 2010. Their intention was to demonstrate against labor discrimination, unemployment, looting of resources, and human rights abuses. The camp contained between 12,000 and 20,000 inhabitants, but on 8 November 2010 it was destroyed and its inhabitants evicted by Moroccan security forces. The security forces faced strong opposition from some young Sahrawi civilians, and rioting soon spread to El Aaiún and other towns within the territory, resulting in an unknown number of injuries and deaths. Violence against Sahrawis in the aftermath of the protests was cited as a reason for renewed protests months later, after the start of the Arab Spring.
In Algeria, discontent had been building for years over a number of issues. In February 2008, United States Ambassador Robert Ford wrote in a leaked diplomatic cable that Algeria is 'unhappy' with long-standing political alienation; that social discontent persisted throughout the country, with food strikes occurring almost every week; that there were demonstrations every day somewhere in the country; and that the Algerian government was corrupt and fragile. Some have claimed that during 2010 there were as many as '9,700 riots and unrests' throughout the country. Many protests focused on issues such as education and health care, while others cited rampant corruption.
.Tahrir Square demonstration on 25 January in Mubarak The government mobilized to break the strike through infiltration and riot police, and while the regime was somewhat successful in forestalling a strike, dissidents formed the "6 April Committee" of youths and labor activists, which became one of the major forces calling for the anti- A Facebook page, set up to promote the strike, attracted tens of thousands of followers and provided the platform for sustained political action in pursuit of the "long revolution.". The idea for this type of demonstration spread throughout the country, promoted by computer-literate working class youths and their supporters among middle-class college students.Cairo, just outside al-Mahalla al-Kubra One important demonstration was an attempted workers' strike on 6 April 2008 at the state-run textile factories of