In recent news, the Middle East has been reported to have been under conflict as many protests and violence had been recorded against the leaders of their governments. Many of the protests concentrated on pushing for political, social, and economic reform while others wished for their governments to be changed entirely to introduce democracy and an open government. It is notable that the trend of protest and calls for reform had emerged after the successful revolution in Egypt wherein the Egyptian public protested against the continuous ruling of 29 year reigning President Hosni Mubarak. Arguably seen as the beginning of the Arab Spring, the Egyptian revolution both inspired other Middle Eastern nations to question their current condition under their governments and incited change throughout the Middle East for a chance to achieve total reform and development, as well as the realization of the importance of social media and the capacity of non-violent measures to foster change.
Even before, the Egyptian revolution came into focus in 2011, many wanted to call for the resignation of Hosni Mubarak since his election to office after the death of Anwar Sadat. He was seen as a lapse ruler, with several calls for reform and political will neglected or disregarded. His policies were also seen as neutral or somewhat reluctant to engage in serious topics such as the Arab-Israeli Conflict, US/USSR Relations and even the Arab-Egyptian relations. Mubarak had also turned a deaf ear when the public wished to make amends and make up with Israel given the effects of the growing war on the country. Mubarak had also earned the ire of the public due to his preference to develop the oligarchy that continues to drain the country’s resources and economic capacity. His government converted various public sector economies owned by the people and turned them to the private sector wealth utilized by his cronies and allies. Many of the country’s lands were also sold to private investors, thereby creating a massive increase of unemployed Egyptians throughout the country. Mubarak also gave concessions to his cronies and allies to maintain their private investments and companies. Most of the nation’s arable lands, which could have been used to till food and create shelter, were converted to commercial lands for the oligarchy. Many farmers had lost their jobs, leaving many hungry and lost to find shelter. The lapses and the incapacity of the Mubarak administration to act upon the plight of the people had raised the flag to call for reform and Mubarak’s removal, not just from the public but also from the international community. However, Mubarak stood firm and only imposed minor political reforms to remain in power. The public remained adamant to have him removed from office even if they have to take it to the streets as the country continued to struggle against its Middle Eastern neighbors and international partners .
With Mubarak entering his 29th year in power as President in 2011, many slowly tried to find means to call the attention of the public and call for his removal. With the oligarchy monopolizing the country’s resources and the continuous decline of the public’s lifestyle, it was visible Egypt would fall in debt and paralysis if Mubarak continued to be in power. In January 25, 2011, the public’s younger sector mobilized the public to call for their attendance in the streets of Cairo and protest against Mubarak’s continuous control over the government. In three, days, the results of calls to protest were met in enthusiasm as the streets of Cairo and Tahrir Square were flocked by people, calling for Mubarak to withdraw from office and to call for a new representative government that would foster democracy to the country. Mubarak and his allies had tried to stop the protests through the use of force, which only added to the tensions already being felt by the public as the government’s forces were led by the unpopular Ministry of Interior. Despite the capacity of the government’s forces to overwhelm the protesters, the sheer number of attendees overwhelmed the government. The continuous use of force against the public protesting for reform had eventually caused sectors to fall such as the economy, political affairs, and even education had stopped. The protesters called for a few things aside from Mubarak’s resignation: a creation of a representative interim government that would settle the transition phase once Mubarak is out of the picture, a revision to the constitution, removal of Egypt’s corrupt and violent leaders, and a new system of elections to prevent any other Mubarak-like politicians from taking over the country. Mubarak continued to defy the protests, promising he would not run for the next elections and that he will remain in his office until his end of the term. A day after his announcement in February 10, 2011, protesters rejoiced that Mubarak resigned and left the city .
With Egypt successfully emulating the Tunesian’ uprising and proceeding with the transition process to change the country’s standing, the immediate impact it created opened the minds of the Middle Eastern countries as to their current situation and the state of affairs their governments are enforcing. The public became aware of the issues regarding society such as the dictatorship or the monarchy system, corruption, economic decline, poverty and other structural factors that influence satisfaction and change in the country. The protests following the Egyptian uprising showcases this growing awareness from the people as the protests had targeted their governments and called for reform. In Yemen, protesters clashed with the police daily as they tried to force their way into the presidential palace and invoke Ali Abdullah Saleh, their leader of three decades, to step down. Saleh had announced that he will step down from office in 2013 and even started talks with the opposition leaders to find a compromise. In Algeria, protesters flocked the country’s capital and central Algiers against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Jordan’s King Abdullah also found himself under protest as tribal and Islamist-led opposition groups and the public did not see the new government established in February 9 to be open for the public. The protesters also called for the limited power of the throne to the government. Bahrain’s leader Sunni King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa had also met anti-government protests due to his orders to arrest minors that had first created the sparks of protests against the government. Sudanese women also held their own protests against the government as they called for the release of their love ones due to their protests that had been inspired by the Egyptian revolt . Iran had also its share of the protests as they called for “Death to the Dictator” while protesting towards Imam Hossein Square. Amidst all of the protests against the government, it is visible that the governments being placed under scrutiny used force to thwart change or cling into power. Nonetheless, it is visible that the public became aware as to the importance of their voice in the country that must be taken into account by the government .
Aside from the growing awareness of the public with regards to their rights and current situation, it has been noted that the growing awareness of the Middle East also showcases their growing assessment over their political atmosphere. The Middle East had realized that the Egyptian revolution had showcased the weakness in an authoritarian government the region has firmly grasped for the past decades. The Uprisings had also revealed that the autocracies themselves would not last forever since old ideas would be no longer fit in the ever changing society the Middle East is slowly becoming. Rulers and dictators holding powers in their regions for the past decades are slowly realizing that as they continue to restrict human dignity and freedom of their people, they no longer have the assurance that they can maintain their power for so long given that people are slowly realizing the effects of being suppressed. In Egypt, for example, they wished to disregard the rigged government which deprived the public of development and freedom from poverty. Egypt then became the driving force of the Middle Eastern nations as it targeted the vulnerabilities of the Middle Eastern governments and called for reform that would give people freedom and democracy. It was argued that the Middle East’s government strategies were revealed to be flawed by these uprisings, thus the greatest impact of the Egyptian uprising.
The Egyptian uprising had also revealed that nonviolent tactics such as protests and demonstrations of peaceful intentions can be a powerful method to bring political change in the region. While the Middle Eastern domino from the Egyptian uprising had various effects when it comes to their success, the demonstrations had revealed that it is not by the number that enabled the protests to be victorious to incite change; it is also due to the strength and resolve of both parties. While there were setbacks in terms of fighting for their rights, the Islamist parties were able to use their leverage to support nonviolent Islamist strategies to push for change rather than use violent insurgencies and attacks to the government. Nonetheless, it is also noted that the Middle East had realized that while democratization of the region would be hard with just non-violent strategies, it is crucial to understand that there must be an open understanding of the external and regional dynamics that may influence the change they are calling for in their areas.
The Middle East had also realized the importance of social media and mobile/computer access in opening the minds of the public regarding the nature of their country and their living conditions. The Egyptian uprising was plausible because the younger generation had utilized social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to organize their protests in Egypt on January 25. It is noted by experts that the Arab Spring and the Egyptian uprising can be considered “Young Revolution” as many of the protesters came from the younger sector. Twitter use had been recorded to be at the all-time high since January 25, especially in Egypt as it had managed to get 1.2 million mentions in comparison to the 130,000 recorded users of the social media platform. After the Egyptian uprising, it has been recorded that other regions such as Bahrain, Libya, Syria, Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries took their protests in Facebook and Twitter; especially when coordinating protest schedules, and showcasing videos of how their countries appear with their governments in power. While governments could indeed restrict internet use, it would only result into massive debt as it would incur countries to pay $18 million per day just to shut down mobile and internet networks. Not only would it incur that much money to pay for restriction, but it would also impact eCommerce, tourism and businesses relying on the internet. Some studies have also noted that even if the governments would try to refrain the usage of the internet, the people would just become more active and creative in how they could coordinate and bypass the government .
In addition to this, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had also been influenced by the Egyptian uprising and the growth of the Arab spring throughout the Middle East. From Egypt up to Bahrain, the slogans had not addressed these matters as they protested in the streets against their government. Instead, the Palestinian rights had become a second priority after human rights within their own region. Also, since most Middle Eastern nations emulate the Islamic teachings, their passions emphasizing justice and freedom influenced their foreign policies and how they view their government. Both Arab and Islamic cultures valued human rights and with them fighting for their rights through their protests, they become aware of the situation their governments placed them into. Experts have noted that it is likely that the most lasting impact the Arab Spring and the Egyptian uprising had created is that the Middle Eastern public now shows importance to human dignity, women’s rights, freedom and democracy. As a result of this, it is notable that the Spring would not just cover political aspirations of the public for their nations to change, but it would also change society as one knows it .
Sadly,, the impact of the Egyptian uprising and the Arab Spring had eventually caused some negative effects throughout the Middle East. With the uprisings reaching in migrant-sending countries like Egypt, Yemen and Syria up to the migrant-receiving countries, the movement of migrating citizens has changed. In Libya for example, the growing number of migrants in the area mirrored the similar exodus when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Throughout February and October 2011, it had been recorded that 1 million people crossed out of Libya to escape the growing tensions in the country. At least 37% of the Libyans went to seek refuge while others moved out to return to their home nations. There were also de facto refugees not recorded to have left the country to seek another country to escape the conflicts. While there were Libyans who left the country, there were also migrants from other regions like Sudan, Somalia and Chad who wanted to escape the tensions in their own areas. Sadly, they were not able to stay in Libya for the very fact that the country does not permit refugees. Experts have also noted that the revolts happening around the Middle East may present repercussions if the changes pushed by the people in their protests would not push through. If the revolts become successful, it would foster economic and political change. However, it would influence migration and it is likely that emigration would dwindle or soar depending on the result of each revolt .
At the present time, the protests and violence attached to the Middle Eastern revolution continues to dominate headlines as governments are still trying to maintain their hold to power despite the growing call for change in the region. On the one hand, the impact of the revolutions would cripple the country as it would stop income and development to kindle as the government would be busy to stop the protests. On the other hand, the Middle East indeed needs a makeover with regards to its political sphere as it only brings the Middle Eastern countries lower than their neighbors. The Arab Spring and the Egyptian uprising gave hope to the people across the region as the possibility of political, economic and social change is possible and not just a man’s impossible dream. It can also be noted that the Egyptian uprising had also inspired the people to shift into a more democratic and public-friendly government without inciting violence. While the tensions continue to escalate, it is likely that the spirit of the Arab Spring and the Egyptian uprising will continue for as long as dictators and oppressive governments continue to suppress the people.
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