The Political Dynamics of the Middle East Beyond 2010: The Aftermath of the Arab Spring
e Journal of International Relations
yna mics of the Middle East Beyond
Studies 0 1
Development 0 1
Peter Akpo Adams 0 1
0 Ebaye, Sunday EsosoNsed; Ellah, Timothy Ogbang; and Adams, Peter Akpo (2017) "The Political Dynamics of the Middle East
1 The Journal of International Relations, Peace and Development Studies A publication by Arcadia University and the American Graduate School in Paris
Sunday EsosoNsed Ebaye Timothy Ogbang Ellah
THE POLITICAL DYNAMICS OF THE MIDDLE EAST BEYOND 2010:
THE AFTERMATH OF THE ARAB SPRING
Sunday EsosoNsed Ebaye- Ph. D1
Peace & Conflict Resolution Studies Unit, Centre for General Studies, Cross River
University of Technology, Calabar- Nigeria. E-mail:,
Ellah, Timothy Ogbang2
Department of History and International Studies, University of Calabar, PMB 1115
Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. Email:
Adams, Peter Akpo3
Department of Religious and Cultural Studies, University of Calabar, PMB 1115 Calabar
Cross River State, Nigeria. Email:
Beyond Tunisia, Libya and parts of the Middle East, the wave of protests emboldened by North
African crises have been driven by similar demographic realities, failures of state policies and
demands for greater participation, representation and democracy. However, these protests to some
extent have failed to effect regime change in some cases. The Arab Spring which started in Tunisia
was a historic moment in the politics of North Africa and the Middle East but its aftermath remains
unpredictable. This research is an attempt to understudy the Arab spring and its political dynamics on
North Africa and the Middle East, with a view to stemming autocratic leadership and replacing that
with people oriented government based on legitimacy and democratic values. The methodology
adopted was based on secondary sources of data such as reports and articles published within the
scope of this study, to identify the main issues raised by scholars on this topical issue. Findings reveal
that the aftermath of the Arab spring is a revolutionary Middle East/ North Africa against autocracy.
The paper recommends that leaders across the globe should gain from these experiences, and therefore
promote democratic institutions and values in their art of governance in order to avert the occurrence
of similar revolutionary experiences in their home countries.
The Arab Spring heralded a wave of demonstrations and protests in the Arab world, which began in
December 2010. Popular protests have led to the overthrow of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, a civil
war in Libya, civil uprisings in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen, major protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan,
Morocco and Oman, and civil war in Yemen and in a number of other countries in the Middle East
and North Africa (MENA) regions. These protests have been widely seen as a ‘watershed’ event,
which have ‘irrevocably changed’ the region and the global political landscape” (Yacoubian, 2011:1).
The primary impact of the Arab Spring has been to change the social contract governing the
relationship between Arab ruling elites and their people. Cracks in this contract emerged over the last
decade, but the Arab Spring has led to a rapid and radical empowerment of Arabs in the grassroots. It
is important to note that although other parts of the world face similar problems of economic
stagnation, corruption and burgeoning populations, the protests in the Arab world have not so far
spread beyond the region. The Arab Spring therefore has demonstrated a strong regional dynamic.
Protests have spread within the Arab world because of the cultural affinity felt by Arabs (Hayes,
This study assesses the impact of the Arab Spring on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)
regions and how it has continued. Methodologically, it is drawn from briefings, reports and articles to
identify the main issues raised by scholars. However, based on the fact that the events analyzed here
are current and contemporary events, much of the analysis is lacking in rigorous documentary
evidence. While this paper focuses on regional impacts and implications of the protests, it also
considers the wider global impacts insofar as these have had a knock-on effect on the North African
and the Middle East regions.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE ARAB SPRING
The Arab Spring, by its 2010-2011 definition, was instigated by a seemingly minor event, a personal
tragedy, on December 17th, 2010 when a Tunisian grocery vendor set himself on fire as a reaction to
being apprehended by the Tunisian police for selling vegetables without a valid permit. The grocery
vendor; a 26 years old Mohammed Bouazizi, a bride winner of an extended family of eight, was
beaten up, by the police as they interfered in his affairs; confiscated his cart, and according to
witnesses, physically and verbally humiliated him
. When Bouazizi reported the
malpractice to the authorities, he was ignored, and it was when he was shunned at the municipal office
that he, in great desperation, resorted to self-immolation. It is highly unlikely that Bouazizi knew the
implications of his act; it did however strike a chord with the generality of the Tunisian population.
The mentioned act was symbolic of the dire state of affairs for the Tunisian population; Tunisia had
overtime experienced widespread unemployment, a highly corrupt judicial system, poor living
standards, and a lack of respect for basic human rights (Al-Jazeera, 2011). Bouazizi’s desperate actions
led to demonstrations, and while the protests were at first confined to his hometown of Sidi Bouzid it
soon spread to the capital Tunis. As the situation worsened President Zine el-Abidinde Ben Ali visited
Bouazizi at the hospital, the images of the Tunisian President at the sick bed, containing the
completely gauzed Bouazizi spread across the globe, Bouazizi died just days after the president’s visit.
Several youths identified themselves with the desperation of Bouazizi and demanded better living
conditions, and that Ben Ali, who had been in office since 1987 step down. In the turmoil that
followed, several hundred lost their lives as Ben Ali ever more desperately fought to remain in power.
A United Nations delegation put the number of deaths at 219, but this estimate may very well be
subject to changes as more organizations get access and official investigation is completed (UN
Report, 2011). The Tunisian uprising removed Ben Ali from power, showing that the will of the people
did in the end prevail, and proved to be an important event that encouraged fellow North Africans to
revolt against corrupt and autocratic regimes.
The situation in Tunisia after the departure of Ben Ali has been cautiously optimistic, as of recently the
people of Tunisia have once again organized demonstrations voicing their discontent with the interim
body, led by President Fouad Mebezza, currently ruling Tunisia. According to the Tunisian
constitution a presidential election is to be held no later than 45-60 days after the inauguration of an
interim president, Mebezza was inaugurated on January 15th, and as of mid-August 2011, well past
the stipulated 60 days, no elections took place. The demonstrations have not had the same intensity as
the initial demonstrations, but they nevertheless showed that the people of Tunisia will not sit idly if
the anticipated democratization is unsatisfactory or progresses in a replica of a snail movement. This
development could in fact become an obstacle as the expectations of the system that will replace Ben
Ali are high, and the problems that were present in that society are still very real in the post Ben Ali
On October 23rd, 2011 the much anticipated elections in Tunisia took place. The run up to the elections
were peaceful and Election Day passed without any major disturbances. Voter turnout was high;
reports of up to 70 % were filed, It was a dawn of new era in Tunisia as on that Sunday, Tunisians
headed to the polls to vote in the second, countrywide elections since former president Zine el-Abidine
Ben Ali left power in 2011. The first elections were filled with excitement; the world watched
intensely, and citizens – many unpracticed but euphoric – waited patiently for hours to cast their
ballots. These were the first assembly elections in the Arab world after the popular overthrow of a
longstanding dictator. No one was sure who would come out the winner, although the moderate
Islamist Ennahda party was heavily favored, and it was unclear what the future holds for Tunisians,
though it was a moment to remember. In the aftermath of the election, the enthusiasm from both the
international and local communities in the lead-up to elections waned. The world’s attention now
focuses on the civil wars in Syria and the spread of the Islamic State and concerns over insecurity and
instability. Inside Tunisia, too, the mood shifted from optimism to concern. Tunisians have seen their
economy worsen, inequalities persist and frustrations mount. Perhaps most importantly, the elections
saw peaceful turnover of power. The Nidaa Tunis, a party that emerged after uprisings against the
Ennahda-led government, emerged the winner, and Ennahda conceded defeat. Negotiations over the
Cabinet began, with all the usual haggling, in stark contrast to experiences in Egypt and Libya which
had continued to herald civil unrest.
After the initial few months, the Arabian spring started to spread to the east of Suez Canal, to the
heartland of the Middle East, gaining momentum over time. The protest then centered on the same
issues as in North Africa: democracy, unemployment, food prices and in almost all cases (except
Jordan) the ousting of the Monarchy, and/or presidency. The protests in the Middle East started in
March, 2011 and, as in the North African cases, were propelled by social media, namely Facebook and
Twitter. The demonstrations were met with significant brutality, security forces had shot
indiscriminately at protesters, and gatherings have been stormed by riot police. These harsh methods
have brought criticism upon the ruling regimes, but there was significantly less action by the
international community than in the North African cases.
The theoretical postulation that best explicate this research is the frustration and aggression theory.
The frustration and aggression theory with scholars such as Mc Dougall, John Dollard (1939),
Leonard W. Doob (1939), Neal E. Miller (1939), Abraham H. Maslow (1941), Norman R. F. Maier
(1949), J. K. Zawodny (1966), Abram Amsel (1992), among many others, argue that aggression is
always a consequence of frustration, and that frustration always leads to some form of aggression.
When a barrier is interposed between people and their goals, extra energy is mobilized, which flows
over into a destructive behavior (Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff, 1977).
The frustrating barrier target may be physical, psychological, or socially immune to attack a stranger,
vested with an aura of authority, and sacred in character.
However, what constitutes an aggression is not an objective matter, as it often depends on cognition
and interpretation by the individual
. Various types of frustrations may lead to
different types of aggressive reactions (Rosenzweig, 1944).
The frustration and aggression theory finds relevance in this study as the grocery vendor- Mohammed
Bouazizi became frustrated as a result of the beatings, confiscation of his cart, humiliations, and the
inactions of the Tunisians’ authority at the municipal office. Furthermore, the revolutionary attitude of
the Tunisian population has direct bearing with their unfulfilled desires and general poor conditions of
THE ARAB SPRING AND THE POLITICAL DYNAMICS OF THE MIDDLE EAST: CASE
THE CASE OF EGYPT:
On January 25th 2011, tens of thousands of protesters marched to central Cairo to voice their
disapproval of long time ruler Hosni Mubarak. The day, which was termed “the day of rage”, set off a
chain of events that eventually led to the resignation and exiling of Mubarak and his family. The
uprising in Egypt was centred in Cairo, more specifically at the Tahir Square. Another feature of the
uprisings was the element of social media. The protesters used different social media, like Facebook
and Twitter to coordinate and spread information regarding the protests. The use of social media meant
that the international press was updated in real time regarding the events in Egypt; this in turn created
a huge coverage of the events as they unfolded.
By the end of January 2011, the square became a meeting point for the protesters, and only a week
after “the day of rage” an estimated 250, 000 demonstrators had gathered there displaying a pattern
that was similar to the Tunisian case of Ben Ali. Mubarak offered concessions to the protesters;
sacking his cabinet and promised not to re-run for the election. None of these appeasement offered
satisfied the growing number of protesters, and faced by insurmountable domestic pressure Mubarak
stepped down on 11 February 2011 (Bush, 2011).
As in Tunisia, the demonstrations and subsequent resignation of Mubarak was coupled with significant
bloodshed. The demonstrations were initially met with harsh resistance from the military and other
pro-Mubarak forces who launched several attacks on the Tahrir Square. The scenes at Tahrir Square
were widely reported around the world; global media was constantly present and able to give up to
date information on the situations. Clashes between protesters and pro-Mubarak forces were constant:
as the protesters were fired upon, they responded by hauling rocks and Molotov cocktails at the police.
Several people lost their lives at Tahrir Square. The chaotic and tumultuous situation at Tahrir Square
was unprecedented as demonstrations and oppositional parties had been banned since Mubarak’s rise
to power in 1981. Eventually the Egyptian military changed allegiance, and joined the demonstrators.
The outcomes of the demonstrations were, as in Tunisia, successful, but the outcome of the larger,
democratization movement, is still way too early to be assessed. As a step in dealing with the past
administration of Mubarak, a trial was initiated. The legal process includes Mubarak himself, along
with members of his family and former cabinet members. Mubarak was accused of several cases of
abuse of power and also of murder in the case of the violent repression of the demonstrations on the
Tahrir Square. However, Mubarak, from his caged sickbed denied all accusations. Simultaneously
with the judicial process, Egyptians flared up. Just as in Tunisia the population was not satisfied with
the progress that the military council that ruled Egypt delivered. The military council indeed enacted
emergency laws, prohibited spontaneous congregations and postponed the dates for elections. The
security situation in Egypt later deteriorated as violence between demonstrators and military police
broke out again in Cairo on October 9th. Demonstrators, mainly Christian Copts, voiced their
discontent with arson attacks on churches. The demonstrations descended into violence and as event
unfolded, 24 people lost their lives. The event showed the extreme fragility of the then Egyptian
society. The military council was quick to launch an investigation, assuring the Christian minority that
there would be no impunity for the attacks on Christians, or on churches. There was also an
amendment made to the electoral laws regulating the first elections since the fall of Mubarak,
scheduled to take place at the end of November 2011. The amendment clearly stated that no religious
rhetoric will be allowed during the elections. The anxiety over the elections and the importance of a
successful democratic transition became visible in the Egypt society. The number of candidates for the
parliament was staggering and there was indeed a desire to partake in the democratic process.
Egypt had on several occasions declined assistance in organizing the elections and several analysts
consider the elections to be extremely important, not only to Egypt, but to the entire region since
Egypt is seen as a role model for the other North African countries and the middle East. The week
preceding the first round of elections in Egypt was marked by uprisings and anger directed towards the
military council ruling Egypt then. The scenes that took place on the Tahrir Square during the latest
days have bore a remarkable resemblance to the movement that forced Mubarak out of power at the
beginning of 2011. At least 30 people were killed and the temporary parliament was asked to resign,
the Military Council was however still in power.
The demonstrations were traced to lack of progress since the ousting of Mubarak, and that there had
not been any substantial change since the same elite figures were still in power. Furthermore, the
people got enraged because, in the post Mubarak era, civilians were still being charged in military
THE CASE OF ALGERIA & MOROCCO
In Algeria and Morocco - the outcome was quite different. Similar demonstrations as in Tunisia and
Egypt took place in Algeria and Morocco, beginning in January, 2011 and escalated up to February,
2011. The demonstrations were however not as successful. Most importantly, the military and riot
police retained their loyalty to the state rather than joining the uprising, as compared to the case of
Egypt, and to some extent, that of Tunisia.
In Algeria and Morocco, demonstrators were met with reinforced riot police, and even though there
were reported deaths in connection to the demonstrations they were not as violent and did not produce
such high death tolls as in Tunisia and Egypt
. Albeit that the Moroccan and Algerian
demonstrations did not replace the incumbent regimes, they still inflicted a significant change in their
respective societies. In Algeria, the emergency rule that came into effect since 1992 was lifted, and in
Morocco a promise was made to reduce the influence of the King. A popular referendum was held
during the end of June 2011, and the outcome was a landslide victory for the proposed amendments to
the constitution limiting the influence and power of the Moroccan monarchy.
THE LIBYAN EXPERIENCE
In Libya, the situation developed quite differently. The wave of demonstrations was sure to reach
Libya as it engulfed the northern fringe of the African continent, but the response of the Libyan
leadership, led by Muammar Gaddafi, was hard to predict. As in the neighbouring countries,
demonstrators demanded better quality of life, more freedom and a higher level of participation in the
governance of their countries. What distinguished the case of Libya from its North African neighbours
was the particularly brutal fashion in which Gaddafi responded to the popular uprisings. When on
February 17th, a “day of revolt” was organized it was clear that Gaddafi would not tolerate any
scenario that would diminish, or infringe on his absolute power. On the first day of the uprisings
Gaddafi released prisoners from jail and hired them as mercenaries to fight the protesters.
Furthermore, he also employed a great number of predominantly West Africans as mercenaries to deal
with the protesters. Just days after the instigation of the protests, Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam
Muammar al Gaddafi appeared on state television warning that the situation might cause a civil war.
He blamed the uprising on foreign interest, particularly Israel; he further accused western media of
giving a biased picture of the situation in Libya
The situation did not improve after al-Islam’s speech. The attacks on civilian protesters continued and
intensified; a large migratory flow towards the borders began to materialize. The fact that Libya hosted
a large population of migrant workers made the situation even more precarious. In just a matter of
days there were large refugee camps set up on the borders with Egypt. Since Gaddafi had hired West
Africans as mercenaries, the situation for migrant workers from that region was especially dangerous
as the migrant workers trying to get to the borders were mistaken for mercenaries and consequently
met with hostility or even violence by Libyans.
As the situation escalated Gaddafi made an appearance on state television where he delivered a
seemingly incoherent speech from his bombed home, a remnant from the 1986 bomb-campaign by the
U.S. in which his 15 month old daughter died. In the speech Gaddafi blamed various countries and
organisations for the on-going protests. He blamed Al-Qaeda for poisoning the drinking water, causing
the youth to revolt, and he also blamed the U.S. along with a majority of the western world for the
situation in Libya. He promised to die as a martyr and that he would rather fight with the last drop of
his blood than step down.
However, the death of Gaddafi’s daughter, Hana, was staged and on February 24th, the rebels
announced that they had complete control of the eastern city Tobruk, located not far from the Egyptian
border. A few days later; on February 27th, the formation of the National Transitional Council (NTC)
was announced and it was established as the de facto opponent of the Libyan government. The
council, made up of a mixture of freedom-fighters, former politicians, religious leaders and elements
of the Libyans Diaspora, elected Mustafa Abdul Jalil as its leader. Jalil had defected from his position
as Secretary of Justice in the Libyan government on February 21st, because of the use of force against
civilians. After the rebel side had established control of Tobruk, the violence on the part of Gaddafi’s
forces escalated. Indiscriminate shelling of entire towns believed to be strongholds of the rebels
commenced, causing great civilian suffering.
However, the international community did not stand idly by as Gaddafi was embarking on what was
described as a warfare against his own people. The issue was brought before the United Nation
Security Council, which on March 17th, voted in favour of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya,
restricting Gaddafi from using his air force against the Libyan population. The vote was certainly
controversial, as five countries chose to abstain; Brazil, China, Germany, India, and the Russian
Federation (Blanchard, 2011). This notwithstanding, resolution 1973 was passed and the responsibility
of enforcing the no-fly zone was distributed amongst the member states of the UN, with the North
Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as the commanding head. A broad coalition of countries made
themselves available, among them Sweden. The no-fly zone indeed eased the suffering of the civilian
population of Libya. However, Gaddafi still targeted civilians and there were reports of him using
banned cluster-bombs when shelling villages and towns. The situation was worthwhile; it became a
stalemate going back and front. Control of the coastal towns of Misratah, Sirte, Ajdabiya, and
Benghazi East of Tripoli, on several occasions switched hands. This devastating stalemate brought
severe suffering to the civilian population of Libya and the imposition of the no-fly zone was, yet, to
make a substantial difference in terms of rebel successes (Blanchard, 2011).
The mission to enforce the no-fly zone over the Libyan air-space was gradually been broadened, not
officially but the actions and missions undertaken by NATO forces allude to a significantly wider area
of operations. Intense bombings of central Tripoli sought to kill Gaddafi, and France admitted to
airlifting weapons and other supplies to the rebel forces of the National Transitional Council. These
actions were in no way sanctioned by resolution 1973, they were however carried out within the
realms of that mandate
(BBC News, April 27th, 2011)
The rebel side, the National Transitional Council, suffered infighting as the conflict became protracted.
On July 28th, the rebel General and former Interior minister in the Gaddafis’ government, Abd al-Fatah
Yunnis was mysteriously killed. The murder made visible a possible rift in the rebel ranks. No motive
was established, neither was anyone arrested for the act. However, rumours were rife; some sources
mentioned that Yunnis had information that Algeria was supplying Gaddafi with weapons. Others
claim that the General was in fact a double agent sabotaging the rebel cause. Regardless of the motive,
the fact that there were apparently internal problems within the National Transitional Council might,
was a sign of weakening resolve from the rebel side
The situation in Libya then is by no means easily analyzed here. Gaddafi was notorious for his erratic
behaviour and his blatant disrespect for human rights and freedoms, a mixture that was and bode of
nightmare scenario for Libya, its people and the entire region. As Gaddafi was removed from power,
his erratic behaviour and self-image as an almost god-like person is even more troubling. As the
National Transitional Council took over de facto control of the Libyan state, Gaddafi went into hiding.
His whereabouts were unknown, but he did not give up the struggle to regain control. The fact that he
was apprehended, caused unnecessary suffering amongst the civilian population of Libya. Even when
in hiding, Gaddafi continued to make inflammatory speeches urging those loyal to him to fight to the
bitter end, a calling that severely limits the possibilities for a peaceful retreat of Gaddafi-loyalists. The
manhunt for Gaddafi then was a high priority for the newly installed government of Libya; a Gaddafi
at large will inevitably endanger the stability in the entire region. The situation later turned in favour
of the rebels, as much of Tripoli fell in the hands of the Transitional Council which on August 26th,
announced the movement of their base from Benghazi to Tripoli (Hayes, 2011).
Despite the successes of the rebels, it was still difficult for Gaddafi to be caught as there were still
pockets of resistance within Libya, most notably in, and around Gaddafi’s hometown; Sirte, and the
city of Sabah as well as Bani Walid.
On October 20th, a decisive step was taken towards the rebels’ victory as the last city belonging to
Gaddafi loyalists; Sirte, fell. Furthermore, it turned out that Gaddafi was hiding among his loyalists in
the city, as he along with his entourage tried to flee, he was captured and later shot. The circumstances
of his death are unclear. Motassim Gaddafi was also killed in the final battle for Sirte. Following the
death of Gaddafi, the National Transitional Council declared, officially, the liberation of Libya on
The aftermath of the killing of Gaddafi is complex. The UN demanded an independent investigation
since there were evidences suggesting that he was shot while in captivity. The issue of disposing the
body also became affected. Initially the NTC promised to honour Muslim traditions concerning the
corpse of the former dictator. This promise was reneged as the process was stalled. An autopsy was
carried out and the time the corpse of Gaddafi and his son had become somewhat of an attraction as
they lie in a meat freezer in the city of Misrata. The manner in which Gaddafi’s remains were treated
gave an indication to how the interim government of Libya will manage the difficult post conflict
phase that Libya was to face. The situation in Libya today is volatile, as there is an abundance of
weapons and an extreme shortage of employment. The unifying goals of ousting Gaddafi having been
fulfilled, there is subsequently a great responsibility that rests on the interim rulers of Libya, to collect
weapons, offer employment, and keep the unity.
These tasks are of course extremely difficult but the level of accomplishment in these endeavours will
likely determine the future of Libya. Libya is a Nation that is bless with abundant natural resources
and where one should expect peace. Ironically, this has become a dream that has to a greater end
eluded Libya and had thrown it into an internecine civil war at the exit of Gaddafi.
THE ARAB SPRING AND THE POLITICAL DYNAMICS OF NORTH AFRICA
The impacts of the Arab Spring on countries across the North African region have been varied,
reflecting the significant diversity that characterizes the region
. The revolutions that
occurred in Tunisia and Egypt have not been easily replicated in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and
Saudi Arabia. While international military forces are supporting rebels in the civil war in Libya, Saudi
military support has helped the Bahrain regime to suppress protesters. Nevertheless, even in states
such as Libya, Syria, and Yemen, which have so far resisted revolution, the power of the state has
been constrained (Hayes, 2011).
Much of the available literature on the Arab Spring is concerned with the future prospects of the Arab
Spring and the extent to which it is likely to spread or be sustained. Many scholars argue that the fall
of incumbent regimes in Bahrain, Libya, Syria and Yemen is inevitable in the long term. They agree
that oil-rich Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia will remain resistant to major political change, using a
combination of repression with handouts to maintain their grip on power.
Those Arab countries that have some experience of democratic institutions (Palestinian Territories,
Kuwait, Iraq and Lebanon) illustrate the pitfalls of flawed democracy in the Arab world. In each of
these cases factional infighting has led to prolonged periods of political gridlock and civil war (EIU,
Nevertheless, it is already possible to identify a few concrete changes in governance that have resulted
from the Arab Spring, particularly in relation to the role of women in politics. In Tunisia, for example,
parties are now required to have equal numbers of men and women in their electoral lists and
positions. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood; even though it has been declared as a terrorist group by
president Asisi, has grown stronger and had gone ahead to hold discussions on how to include women
in their Consultative Council, although no women sat on the commission to change the constitution.
Although the Arab Spring has had a profound impact on the political settlement in many countries of
the North Africa and the Middle East, it has arguably failed to bring about any major changes in the
regional power structures. This lack of change can be attributed to a number of factors: the oil supply
is secure, Israel continues its occupation, and there are even more ways at the disposal of the US and
European states to keep governments in tune with Western interests, than in times of US-backed
dictatorships, as could be seen in the Asisi government in Egypt which presently is still align to the
US. While many scholars have made comparisons with the third wave of democratization in Eastern
Europe in 1989, US influence in the region is not crumbling in the same way that the Soviet Union‘s
influence over Eastern Europe fell apart during that region’s democratic transition (Hamid, 2011).
Experts have identified a number of emerging trends in regional power relations in the region under
study in recent times. Crocker had argued that the Arab Spring is likely to lead to the re-emergence of
Egypt as a leading Arab power
. Others have also argued that, developments in Egypt
will have a significant impact on the wider region, either providing a blueprint for reform in other
regions if the transition is successful, or encouraging anti-democratic opposition if the transition stalls.
While there are signs that the military are consolidating their position in Egypt through the Asisi
regime, the decision of the government to try and detain the former Presidents demonstrates the
continued power of Arab protests
The Arab spring has created regional competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia, with the latter
becoming increasingly fearful of the threat posed by the Shia rebellions in Bahrain and Yemen. Saudi
Arabia‘s moves to invite Morocco and Jordan to join the Gulf Cooperation Council is seen as an
attempt to constrain Iran‘s influence in the regional enclaves
. The Arab spring has
continued to add to the divide between the Shia and the Suni Muslims in North Africa and the Middle
East and also a continuation in the proliferation of armed groups especially in Libya, Egypt and Syria.
It has popularized the Islamic Brotherhood making them central in every discussion as it relates to the
Arab spring and the Middle East.
Although some Islamist groups such as the Islamic Brotherhood (IB) in Egypt or Al-Nahda in Tunisia
were involved in the protests, the Arab Spring has largely transcended Islamist politics. Bayat
characterizes the uprisings as post-Islamist’ revolutions, where religious rhetoric is largely absent and
where the protesters central aim is to establish a democratic government
Although these groups were marginalized from the initial uprisings, most scholars agree that existing
Islamist movements, especially the well-organised (IB) in Egypt, are likely to be major players in the
post-uprising political landscape of the Arab world. Their role will vary significantly from country to
country. Islamism is best understood as a catch-all term that encompasses a range of positions, from a
belief in theocracy to the idea that Islam should be a source of values.
Islamist movements that were formed under authoritarian regimes had faced internal challenges and
tensions had emerged from younger activists, some of whom had supported greater pluralism and
openness. Nevertheless, when state authority is radically challenged, power lies with those who
command weapons and a disciplined organization, and in many countries in North Africa, Islamist
organizations are the only ones that can claim ready access to both of these resources.
Although social media savvy youth played an important role in driving the protests in most countries,
their role is likely to diminish as political transitions play out in the region. Youth movements lack
leaders and policy platforms to drive their agenda. The fact that formal civil and political society
played such a minimal role in the protests (with the exception of Bahrain) has implications for the
long-term trajectory of the Arab Spring and the Arab world. While the prominence of social media and
young people helped to bring together diverse social and political groups, the amorphous nature of
these groupings mean that they will be difficult to sustain. Youth movements will need to reach out to
conservative voters in rural areas who constitute the majority of the electorate in many North African
countries. In Egypt, these new political movements stand little chance of being able to build
competitive party structures in time for future elections (UN Report, 2011).
Furthermore, the challenges facing Tunisia, Egypt and Libya are enormously different. While Egypt
and Tunisia will focus on building political institutions (constitutions, political parties and electoral
systems), Libya will need to construct a civil society from scratch owing to the civil war and
factionalisation in the country. In the short term, the economic consequence of the Arab Spring
favours the oil-producing countries that have experienced the least instability. Egypt and Tunisia
require external support to shore up suddenly fragile fiscal and balance of payments positions. This
shortfall has been caused by the short-term reductions in production, trade and services. Egypt has also
suffered a 45% drop in tourist arrivals, which it has been estimated may lead to a 1.2% decline in GDP
(Oxford Analytical, 2015). These trends may be partly replicated in other major tourist destinations in
the region such as Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Libya.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This study has attempted to underscore the Arab spring and its dynamics on the North African and the
Middle East politics. The situations in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, has proven to the world and Africa
that authoritarian regimes are definitely gone and are at present obsolete. Things will never be the
same again. A taboo has been broken. The image of the “Father of the Nation” is shattered.
In the future, Africa should see fewer leaders wielding too much power, building a system of
patronage and a culture of corruption while failing to address problems facing the ordinary people.
Also gone are the days of so-called model economies and showcases of the west such as Tunisia. The
end of showcase has come. Africa presently demands more accountability, and donors are busy
revising their models.
The Arab/North African spring has without any doubt influenced politics in North Africa and the
Middle East regions. Since the beginning of 2011, bemused Africans have seen “permanent” dictators
such as Ben Ali or Mubarak fall. Africans have watched closely what happened in Libya and how they
succeeded in changing things in that country. Gaddafi used to be, if not an admired figure, at least a
feared leader not only in his country, but also in the whole of Africa, where he financed a number of
investments (as well as coups and revolutions). Gaddafi's fall had weakened some dictators who
benefited from his financial and military support. Opposition movements and pressure groups in North
Africa and the Middle East have all seen the opportunity arising from all these changes and are trying
to reorganize the people, with some success in some countries and the outbreak of civil war in some.
The researchers may be bold to state that the era of autocratic leadership has been over taken by
people oriented government based on popular support. However, governments of other regions should
therefore gain from these experiences, and build on their governmental structures with the hope of
advancing / promoting institutions with democratic values.
To be forewarned is to be fore armed: the time to act is now.
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NOTE: 1 . Dr . Sunday Esoso Nsed .. Ebaye holds a Ph. D in International Relations (Political Science)
Technology , Calabar- Nigeria. 2. Ellah , Timothy Ogbang is a Ph. D candidate in History and International Studies . He is
Calabar , Cross River State, Nigeria. 3. Adams , Peter Akpo is a Ph. D candidate in Religious and Cultural Studies. He is currently a