In doing a series of blogs pertaining to middle East countries, I began to notice a pattern. A select number of the Middle East regions experienced some levels of protest and dissent from the local population during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising; followed by attempts to ouster current heads of state; and then conflict and chaos ensued.
The Arab Spring spark began in Tunisia, Africa. In December 2010, their citizens started country wide protests over unemployment and political restrictions.Wikipedia reports that the catalyst for the escalation of protests was the self-immolation of Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi. While selling fruit at a roadside stand, Bouazizi had his wares confiscated by a municipal inspector on December 17, 2010. An hour later he doused himself with gasoline and set himself afire. His death brought together various groups dissatisfied with the existing system to begin the “Tunisian Revolution.”
The government tried to break up the demonstrations with military force with no success. Finally. Tunisia’s President Ben Ali stepped down and went into exile. When the Islamic hardliners grabbed power with President Moncef Marzouki, they then acted to amend the constitution to restrict the rights of women. In response, huge numbers of protesters took to the streets again. Eventually a new, more independent leader, President Beji Caid Essebsi emerged due to free elections which were held in December 2014.
Only days after Tunisia’s President Ben Ali’s ouster, massive protests broke out in Egypt in late January 2011. The Egyptian government leaders attempted with no success to control protests by offering concessions while cracking down harshly against protesters. After several days of demonstrations and fights between protesters and security officers in Cairo and around the country, the Egyptian army finally declared that it would refuse to use force against protesters demanding the removal of President Hosni Mubarak. President Mubārak left office on February 11, 2011 after nearly 30 years, ceding power to a council of senior military officers. (Current military officer and president as of June, 2014, is Abdel Fattah el Sisi who replaced Muslim Brotherhood leadership, in power for one year.)
Then in late January, February and March, 2011, protest demonstrations broke out and spread from Yemen to Bahrain, Libya and Syria. In these countries, the voicing out of popular discontent led to protracted bloody struggles between opposition rebel groups and ruling regimes.
(From Wikipedia) “As of September 2012, governments had been overthrown in four countries. Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14, 2011 following the Tunisian Revolution protests. In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak resigned on February 11, 2011 after 18 days of massive protests, ending his 30-year presidency. The Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown on August 23, 2011, after the National Transitional Council (NTC) took control of Bab al-Azizia. He was killed on October 20, 2011, in his hometown of Sirte after the NTC took control of the city. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed the GCC power-transfer deal in which a presidential election was held, resulting in his successor Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi formally replacing him as the president of Yemen on February 27, 2012, in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose term was ending in 2014, agreed to step down.”
The following chronology of events subsequent to 2011 Arab Uprising is from the November 2015 Global Research Report:
“In Yemen, where the first protests appeared in late January 2011, Pres. Ali Abd Allah Salih’s base of support was damaged when a number of the country’s most powerful tribal and military leaders aligned themselves with the pro-democracy protesters calling for him to step down. When negotiations to remove Ṣāliḥ from power failed, loyalist and opposition fighters clashed in Sanaa. Ṣāliḥ left Yemen in June to receive medical treatment after he was injured in a bomb attack, raising hopes among the opposition that a transition would begin. Ṣāliḥ returned to the country unexpectedly four months later, however, adding to the uncertainty and confusion about Yemen’s political future. In November 2011 Ṣāliḥ signed an internationally mediated agreement calling for a phased transfer of power to the vice president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. In accordance with the agreement, Hadī took over governing responsibility immediately and formally assumed the presidency after standing as the sole candidate in a presidential election in February 2012.”
“Mass protests demanding political and economic reforms erupted in Bahrain in mid-February 2011, led by Bahraini human rights activists and members of Bahrain’s marginalized Shīʿite majority. Protests were violently suppressed by Bahraini security forces, aided by a force of about 1,500 soldiers from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that entered the country in March. (Wikipedia:us military bases in Bahrain – home to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and United States Fifth Fleet.)
By the end of the month, the mass protest movement had been stifled. In the aftermath of the protests, dozens of accused protest leaders were convicted of anti government activity and imprisoned, hundreds of Shīʿite workers suspected of supporting the protests were fired, and dozens of Shīʿite mosques were demolished by the government. In November 2011 an independent investigation into the uprising, commissioned by the Bahraini government, concluded that the government had used excessive force and torture against protesters. The government vowed to act on the recommendations for reform included in the report.
In Libya protests against the regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi -February 2011 quickly escalated into an armed revolt. When the rebel forces appeared to be on the verge of defeat in March, an international coalition led by NATO launched a campaign of air strikes targeting Qaddafi’s forces. Although NATO intervention ultimately shifted the military balance in favor of the rebel forces, Qaddafi was able to cling to power in the capital, Tripoli for several more months. He was forced from power in August 2011 after rebel forces took control of Tripoli. After evading capture for several weeks, Qaddafi was killed in Surt in October 2011 as rebel forces took control of the city.”
“The challenges of governing Libya in the post-Qaddafi era became apparent soon after the internationally recognized provisional government, known as the Transitional National Council (TNC), took power. The TNC struggled to restart the Libyan economy, establish functional institutions of government, and exert control over the many autonomous regional and tribal militias that had participated in the rebellion against Qaddafi.”
“In Syria protests calling for the resignation of Pres. Bashar al-Assad broke out in southern Syria in mid-March 2011 and spread through the country. The Assad regime responded with a brutal crackdown against protesters, drawing condemnation from international leaders and human rights groups. A leadership council for the Syrian opposition formed in Istanbul in August, and opposition militias began to launch attacks on government forces. In spite of the upheaval, Assad’s hold on power appeared strong, as he was able to retain the support of critical military units composed largely of members of Syria’s Alawite (Shia) minority, to which Assad also belonged. Meanwhile, divisions in the international community made it unlikely that international military intervention, which had proved decisive in Libya, would be possible in Syria. Russia and China vetoed UN Security Council resolutions meant to pressure the Assad regime in October 2011 and February 2012 and vowed to oppose any measure that would lead to foreign intervention in Syria or Assad’s removal from power. The arrival of a delegation of peace monitors from the Arab League in December 2011 did little to reduce violence. The monitoring mission was suspended several weeks later over concerns for the safety of the monitors.”
“The effects of the Arab Spring movement were felt elsewhere throughout the Middle East as many of the countries in the region experienced at least minor pro-democracy protests. In Jordan and Oman, rulers offered a variety of concessions, ranging from the dismissal of unpopular officials to constitutional changes, in order to head off the spread of protest movements in their countries.”