Causal Analysis of the Arab Spring
On 17 December 2010, 26-year-old jobless Mohammed Bouazizi, frustrated and ashamed by the public humiliation inflicted by a Tunisian female municipal officer and her asides who confiscated the fruit and vegetables he was selling from a street stall and slapped his face in the process, set himself on fire and passed away a few days later. As an aftermath of this incident, a huge wave of protests over unemployment and social issues sparked out in Tunisia, forcing then-president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to step down from his position after 23 years in power. Following this event, activists and ordinary people started to head out onto streets in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and other Arab sub-regions and societies, demanding democracy, social justices, dignity, and freedom. Ultimately, an unprecedented revolutionary wave of nonviolent and violent demonstrations, protests, riots, and civil wars known as Arab Spring, or many may call it Arab Awakening, has spread across the entire Arab World, overthrowing handfuls of tyrants and authoritarian regimes that, for decades, had been taking control over the area. Behind the actual uprisings were many and long gathering root causes. For decades, Arab people had faced repression of free speech, human rights abuses, economic mismanagement, corruption, and stifling of political dissent. Social justice and human dignity were also not respected in most countries. Furthermore, this area of 300 million people was producing an unprecedented youth population, with around two-thirds of the total population below 29 years of age. At the same time, this young generation was annoyed by 25 percent unemployment, frustrated by diminished dreams, motivated greater personal freedoms, and equipped with technological tools of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. In addition to that, international influences from Europe and the United States, actors who have long been desiring for the abundant energy supplies, trade and investment regional security in the region, also induced the event in the name of “promoting democracy.” Looking back to the causes of the Arab Spring, although Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation set fire to the revolution, the actual driving forces behind the revolt were primarily the development of social media and the internal social issues that have been smolderingly existing in the region for decades.
First of all, it is important to mention that even before the happening of Bouazizi’s self-emulation, the Arab World has long been striving for political changes because of the mass unemployment and low living standards of educated class. Unlike most regions, unemployment rates in the SWANNA region are highest amongst the more educated youth. According to Imed Drine in his article “Youth Unemployment in the Arab World: What Do We know? What is the Way Forward?”, published by the World Institude for Development Economics Research, youth unemployment rate in the region was about 25 percent, among the highest in the world. The situation is even worse for young women with an unemployment rate of about 40 percent. Compared to other global regions, the region has shown the highest rate of labour force increase over the last three decades; the unemployment rate for young age groups is 40 percent in some countries. In many Arab countries such as Tunisia and Egypt, it was very usual that university graduates were forced to drive taxis or sell grocery in open stalls to survive, and families with children struggled to provide food and education for their kids. On top of that, there were also drastic gaps between the income of the majority of the population and that of the top elite in most Arabic countries. “Egypt has had a massive income gap throughout Mubarak’s control, which is clearly the root cause of the original uprising. One half of Egyptians live on $2/day or less. The average per-capita income in the country is just $6,200 and 24% of young...
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