Twelve years have passed since the Arab Spring, and both Egypt and Tunisia are facing a stark economic crisis. Both are currently under the mercy of extremely unfavorable structural adjustment programs imposed by the International Monetary Fund, relying heavily on food imports, mired in debt, and facing historical inflation rates with unprecedented hikes in food prices. This dire economic situation is made all the worse by a relentless escalation of authoritarian measures in both countries. The prevailing atmosphere indicates that the counterrevolution has prevailed and that avenues of emancipatory possibility have shrunk almost to the point of extinction.
The Egyptian revolution, which flared from early 2011 to mid-2013, is usually presented in the media (and some academic circles) as a “Facebook Revolution” or at least as one gigantic event that was ignited and organized online. The truth is slightly different. The 2011 uprising was the product of a decade-long complicated political process, in which dissent was accumulating, organizing skills were honed, small victories were achieved and fear of the regime’s repressive apparatus was gradually eroding. One central element in this process that would in 2011 culminate in a full-blown revolution was the visualization of dissent.
A decade has now slipped by since a man named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid on 17 December 2010. Bouazizi, a street vendor, took this extreme step after policemen harassed him for trying to survive. Not long after, thousands of people in this small Tunisian town gathered in the street to express their anger. Their outburst spread to the capital city, Tunis, where trade unions, social organisations, political parties, and civic groups marched into the avenues to overthrow the government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Demonstrations in Tunisia inspired similar outbreaks around the Mediterranean Sea from Egypt to Spain, the chant of Cairo’s Tahrir Square – ash-sha’b yurid isqat an-nizam ‘(the people want to overthrow the regime’) – redolent with the emotion of hundreds of millions.
By Gilbert Achcar for Jadaliyya. What started in the Arab region in 2011 actually is a long-term revolutionary process which, from the beginning it was possible to predict, would take many years, or even several decades, and would not reach a new period of sustained stability short of the emergence of progressive leaderships capable of bringing the Arab countries out of the insuperable crisis into which they have fallen after decades of rotting under despotism and corruption. This brings us to the second issue that it is necessary to emphasize on this anniversary of the uprisings. To say that the old Arab regime is better than the revolt against it is like saying that the accumulation of pus in a boil is better than incising the boil and letting the pus out. The tragedies that we are witnessing now are not the pro.duct of the uprising, but indeed the product of decades of accumulation of rot in the heart of the old regime. The “Arab Spring” provoked the explosion of this accumulation, which inevitably would have happened sooner or later. The truth is that the longer the explosion was delayed, the more rot accumulatedIf there is indeed one thing to be regretted in the Arab explosion, it is not that it happened but that it took so long to happen.
By Stephen Gowans for What's Left - Documents prepared by US Congress researchers as early as 2005 revealed that the US government was actively weighing regime change in Syria long before the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, challenging the view that US support for the Syrian rebels is based on allegiance to a “democratic uprising” and showing that it is simply an extension of a long-standing policy of seeking to topple the government in Damascus. Indeed, the researchers made clear that the US government’s motivation to overthrow the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is unrelated to democracy promotion in the Middle East.
By Derek Royden for Occupy - It was February of 1848 when what came to be called “The Spring of Nations” and “The Year of Revolution” began. The first revolt was in France, then the unrest spread to nearby countries and eventually as far afield as Latin America. The reasons for the uprisings varied, but an unaccountable aristocracy and increasing food shortages united the middle and lower classes in most of these places to demand change. When the smoke cleared, some progress had been made, but the alliance between the middle and lower classes soon broke in most areas as their interests diverged.
By Robin Yassin-Kassab, Alaa Abd El Fattah, Ahdaf Soueif, Mourid Barghouti, Laila Lalami, Raja Shehadeh, Khaled Mattawa, Tamim al-Barghouti, Nouri Gana, and Joumana Haddad for The Guardian - Five years ago, on what would turn out to be the last normal day of my life, I sat down at my desk in a small IT firm in Pretoria and pretended to be working while I was writing a short article for the Guardian. It was about why the Egyptian revolution should be taken seriously. Or at least that’s how I remember it. I can’t get back to that article now; it’s been more than a year since I had access to the internet. In Egypt, prisoners aren’t even allowed a phone call. But I shouldn’t complain: at least I get to see my family two or three times a month. Other political prisoners (mostly Islamists) are not allowed visits at all.
By Abdalhadi Alijla for Open Democracy - At first, opportunistically then pragmatically, a growing number of us thought that the Arab Spring would enhance women rights in the MENA region. Though we are acutely aware of the pace of such a development, the speed at which it has deteriorated is quite shocking. The dream of women being effective participants in political, economic and social life in the post-Arab Spring countries has been crushed.
By Staff of Aljazeera - Anti-government protesters defied a security crackdown and took to the streets as Egypt marked the fifth anniversary on Monday of the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak. Egyptians demonstrated against the military-led government in Alexandria's Al-Qaed Ibrahim Square, which was the site of 2011 protests, as well as in Nasr City and Shubra district in the capital, Cairo. Two Egyptians were shot dead by police in an alleged "exchange of gunfire" in Cairo's October 6 district. Security forces also used gas bombs to disperse protesters in Cairo's eastern al-Matareya district as well as in Kafr Sheikh.
You’d think it would be big news that there’s a liberated area in the Middle East led by kickass socialist-feminists, where people make decisions through local councils and women hold 40 percent of leadership positions at all levels. You’d think it would be even bigger news that their militias are tough enough to beat ISIS. You’d think analyses of what made this victory possible would be all over the left-wing press. According to Janet Biehl, who was part of an academic delegation to the Cizîre canton in December 2014, the district commune is the building block of the whole structure. Each commune has 300 members and two elected co-presidents, one male, one female. Eighteen communes make up a district, and the co-presidents of all of them are on the district people’s council, which also has directly elected members. The district people’s councils decide on matters of administration and economics like garbage collection, heating-oil distribution, land ownership, and cooperative enterprises.
For several weeks now, the Israeli war machine has continued its bombardment and ground operations against Gaza, committing one massacre after another, while the so-called “international community” complacently looks on. This "World Order" or "international community"–from the United Nations, its Security Council and General Secretary, to other international institutions–have remained largely silent, if not complicit, about the atrocities of the latest Israeli war. The vast majority of these global powers are keeping up their depraved blame of the Palestinian resistance in this war–a usual occurrence in the logic of our current world, where resistance and revolutions are condemned as terrorism and State terrorism is given legitimacy under the guise of self-defense. More significantly, in midst of this shameful spectacle, the Palestinians face yet another siege, an Arab siege instigated by regional regimes, both the "moderates" and the "moumanaa". The Egyptian government, through the counter-revolutionary apparatus represented by Sisi’s treacherous government, has kept Egypt’s borders closed in the face of Palestinians and reassured the Zionist regime by destroying the tunnels. Sisi's government continues to push forward ceasefire agreements, which are complicit with occupation and Zionism, at the very least, and contributes to the systematic destruction of Palestinian society.
Three and a half years ago, the world was riveted by massive crowds of youths mobilizing in Cairo's Tahrir Square to demand an end to Egypt's dreary police state. We watched transfixed as a movement first ignited in Tunisia spread from one part of Egypt to another, and then from country to country across the region. Before it was over, four presidents-for-life had been toppled and the region's remaining dictators were unsettled. The young Arabs who made the recent revolutions are ... distinctive: substantially more urban, literate, media-savvy and wired than their parents and grandparents. - Some 42 months later, in most of the Middle East and North Africa, the bright hopes for more personal liberties and an end to political and economic stagnation championed by those young people have been dashed. Instead, some Arab countries have seen counterrevolutions, while others are engulfed in internecine conflicts and civil wars, creating Mad Max-like scenes of postapocalyptic horror. But keep one thing in mind: The rebellions of the last three years were led by Arab millennials, by young people who have decades left to come into their own. Don't count them out yet.
Social science is being militarised to develop 'operational tools' to target peaceful activists and protest movements: A US Department of Defense (DoD) research programme is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies. The multi-million dollar programme is designed to develop immediate and long-term "warfighter-relevant insights" for senior officials and decision makers in "the defense policy community," and to inform policy implemented by "combatant commands." Launched in 2008 – the year of the global banking crisis – the DoD 'Minerva Research Initiative' partners with universities "to improve DoD's basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the US."
A court on Wednesday convicted a prominent activist from Egypt's 2011 uprising for demonstrating without permit and assaulting a policeman, sentencing him to 15 years in prison. The sentence against Alaa Abdel-Fattah is by far the toughest against any of the liberal, pro-democracy activists behind the 18-day uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak's 29-year regime. It is also the first conviction of a prominent activist since former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi took office as president on Sunday. He was tried in abstentia, AP reported "he did turn up at the Cairo courtroom later on Wednesday and was detained by police." But, this does not describe the strange and unjust circumstances that actually occurred. Ahramonline reported that he and other defendants were actually trying to get into the courtroom for the trial...