Completing nearly 10 years of the turbulent event, things have not much changed in the affected countries except the number of regimes in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, and Libya. The socio-economic condition remains the same as was before. Lack of political participation in the government, deprived population, economic stagnation, chaos, and uncertainty is still present. Arab spring has changed the regimes and got a broken system and weakened institutions in heritage. The Arab region, especially Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, among others, have not yet recovered from the shock of the mass demonstrations which had toppled the decades-old rulers or the inchoation of mass brutality and killings by the governments. Yemeni and Syrian civil war are such cases of mass brutality and killing of thousands of innocent civilians.
Before Arab spring 2010, the Arab countries were in deep corruption, incompetent authorities controlled the bureaucracy, mass unemployment surging, most of the youth were unable to find jobs after completing their graduate studies. Inflation and mismanagement on the governmental level were increasing every day. People were denied their basic rights such as equality in the economic realm and equal opportunities in every walk of life which a citizen needs. Financial insecurity intensified. The use of the internet was limited or controlled. Institution building was very weak or was absent. Established ones were not as functional as they should be, for proper governance. The economic condition was a kind of oligopoly. People closely connected to President Hosni Mubarak-at the time of his presidency 2010-received 80 percent of the government credit and then also received 60 percent of overall profits from the credit. The same was with the cronies of Tunisian President Zain Al Abdeen Ben Ali, who received 21 percent of overall sector profits in 2010.
Moreover, at the time of the 2008 global financial crisis, credit crunches were also felt in the Middle East region. Unemployment soared, foods, and prices of other basic necessities increased and inflation going up. The effects of the financial crisis have also put the seeds of the Arab uprising which, years later have presented and stimulated as, a fruit seller Mohammad Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of the Municipal office because of the harassment of policemen and confiscation of his merchandise. The act of Bouazizi was the last needle in the coffin of Ben Ali’s regime and his abusiveness, from then on mass demonstrations unleashed resulting in the resignation of Ben Ali followed by Hosni Mubarak’s deposition in Egypt, Muammar Qaddafi’s death from the hands of rebel militias in Libya, deposition of Salih from the government in Yemen and later assassination, ending the repressive old heads of states. Furthermore, the protests were raged in other Middle Eastern countries including Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Sudan, Kuwait, Saudia Arabia, and the U.A.E where governments have fulfilled some of the demands of the protestors by reforming the constitution, changing the Prime Ministers and Cabinet members or they were eased by economic openness and equal opportunity and participation. Kuwait and Jordan reformed their legislative assemblies and provided concessions to the protesters.
Arab spring filled peoples with hope all over the world as it was spread very fast through social media networking and by the posting of live footage of demonstrations. However, it has brought not the same fruits as it brought for Tunisia or Egypt. It was believed that the revolutions were underway which would replace old regimes with Islamized and Iranian style of governments. As the monarchies felt threatened by the uprising and the enmities between Saudia and Iran were underway on the religious leadership and control of the Holy sites Mecca Medina, both countries ended up backing opposing sides into uprisings and endeavors to contain or minimize each other in the region swayed all over the Middle East which resulted catastrophically. Millions of people have fled from war-torn counties like Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq to the neighboring countries ending up pressing their economies.
Moreover, the Syrian government responded to the protests with heavy force. Civilians were ruthlessly attacked by the police and later by the military when needed. Asad didn’t step down but suppressed the uprising. Iran and Russia backed the Asad regime because he is a Shitte Alvi ruling majority Sunni population and the Russia has a valuable seaport in Syria. They don’t want the Asad regime to collapse and lose a trusted ally in the region.
Furthermore, since 2011, Yemen as well has been struggling to stabilize in which power struggle was raged quickly. A power vacuum was created within the country which invited rebel and other armed groups to join power struggle vis-a-vis external powers to expand their muscles and increase their influence, thus creating the worst humanitarian crisis. Yemeni government backed by Saudi coalition is fighting against Iranian backed Houthi rebels in Yemen who have become a national security threat to Saudia.
In Libya and Iraq, strong militias fighting each other to control the country during which the ISIS declared an Islamic Caliphate which soon perished. The instability still looms and both governments are failing to control their territorial integrity. Khalifa Haftar, beleaguered leader of Libyan forces is fighting to control the center against the Government of National Accord (GNA) which was formed by the UN.
In Egypt, after the deposition of Mubarak, Army dictator Abdul Fatah Al Sisi seized power from the democratically elected government of Morsi and crushed the protestors. He, later, promised reforms but has achieved little and is said to be violating the cause of uprising of 2011. Tunisia’s political uncertainty is plausible as the political parties, legislators, and stakeholders are lacking consensus on the governance. The Middle East had been torn asunder by the Arab Spring. It was seen as a strong wave of democracy led by the people, mostly youth, but now it is said to have achieved very little. The region still stands where it was in 2011 increasing the number of conflicts, proxies, creating refugees, posing survival threats also.
The thing which is to focus on is what it has achieved so far? The high hopes and expectations were not fulfilled. The status quo was overthrown and replaced by a new status quo in some countries and destruction, additionally, for some countries. There is a serious lack of communication between the opposing parties, demonstrators, governments, and external forces. When the conflicts started, they had to be managed because once they started and were not closely managed, they become out of control. The Middle East now is seemingly an amalgam of conflicts and instability among other things. If serious steps are not taken and cooperation doesn’t prevail then the status of the Middle East would always remain the same or become even worse since these conflicts have been controlling people and not the other way round.