When a 26-year-old fruit and vegetable vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of a government building in a small town of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, he didn’t know what consequences of his actions were about to follow. He was disgruntled with the then government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The main reason behind his suicide was the humiliation he faced when he refused to hand over his wooden cart of fruits and vegetables. As soon as he set himself on fire, the people outraged immediately and the mass protests were captured by cell phone cameras and shared on the internet. Once the protests started to explode across the Middle East, the President was forced to step down and later on he fled away.
So, the question is why I was discussing the story of a small fruit vendor who hails from a rural town?
It is because; this small person has lit a fire in everyone’s heart that was sick and tired of the government. His actions have provided a momentum in Tunisia to set off uprisings across the Middle east that later came to be known as Arab Spring.
Another thing that comes to my mind is that whether the sacrifice of this person is worth or not. When we see after seven long years where does this revolt stand. Whether it has been a success or failure?
Seven years later what we saw is that the spring has made way to winter of economic stagnation and political violence that has thrown Syria, Libya, and Yemen into ferocious civil war. It has also lead to far-reaching disruption in Egypt, Iraq, and Bahrain.
So, where did they go wrong?
The western media was very fast in distinguishing the mutiny as popular democratic revolts against an amoral autocratic regime.
But the thing is that the way the western governments have reacted to this revolt is berserk. They have made a not so popular revolt a very widespread one. It was ideally a conservative crusade that was steered essentially by conservatives, religious and Islamic elements against non-religious Arab regimes.
In Libya, Syria, and Yemen, the uprisings finally lead to a ferocious civil war that remain tantrum ensued by deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Extensive anti-government protest in the Sunni triangle was held in Iraq.
The government of President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in Egypt and government of Mohamed Morsi El Ayat came into power but soon he was also overthrown by Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, due to Morsi’s de facto Islamist coup.
CONSEQUENCES OF ARAB SPRING
As soon as the rebel broke off the immediate consequence that we saw was the three civil wars that have generated dreadful human costs, sabotaged the regions around them and has provided the training grounds for the budding jihadists.
On the other hand, Libya has become a hot spot for jihadism and political inhumanity while Syria has become a source of refugees that is overburdening Europe and escalating serious security concerns there.
Another consequence that we have seen is economic stagnation throughout the Middle East. Tourism, which is a major industry in Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan have been impacted by the jihadists thus resulting in a decline in the no. of visitors. Also, the decline in the petrol prices has restricted the finances of Saudi Arabia thus reducing the economic growth and other programs in the area and increasing the unemployment rate and suffering of the people.
Another major consequence is political instability that has accompanied the Arab spring. Due to this, a huge space has been created for the jihadists where they can easily flourish and establish their franchises in multiple countries.
So after reading the consequences and the effects can I say that Arab spring did not solve the crisis of government legality rather it simply provided enough suppression to adjourn the assured explosion that was likely to happen?
On this note, I would sum up the article by few beautiful lines by a Tunisian poet Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi that says –
“If one day, a people desire to live, then fate will answer their call. And their night will then begin to fade, and their chains break and fall. For he who is not embraced by a passion for life will dissipate into thin air, At least that is what all creation has told me and what its hidden spirits declare…”