News / Middle East

Arab Spring Still a Work in Progress

Arab Spring Still Work in Progressi
X
January 25, 2013 8:51 PM
As Egyptians mark the second anniversary of their revolution, experts are assessing the actual impact of the Arab Spring, which many people expected to transform the Middle East. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Al Pessin
As Egyptians mark the second anniversary of their revolution, experts are assessing the actual impact of the Arab Spring, which many people expected to transform the Middle East.

The Egyptian revolution was a time of great hope and enthusiasm among millions of Egyptians.

But the second anniversary finds secular liberals protesting what they see as excesses by the new Islamist-led government.

Multiple Arab Springs

The contrast is emblematic of the disappointment and conflict that followed the euphoria of the uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and other countries.

“The word ‘revolution’ is a very romantic term,” said Stacy Gutkowski, a Middle East Expert at London’s King’s college.

“It conjures up images of something dramatic like the Berlin Wall falling. That isn’t what has happened in the region. These are rumblings, long-term rumblings. But not yet radical change.”

Gutkowski said people were bound to be disappointed, even where governments were overthrown. And the kind of dramatic change the North African countries have seen has not spread to other parts of the region, where activists face either lengthy violent conflict, as in Syria, or piecemeal changes meted out slowly by entrenched autocracies, as in the Persian Gulf states.

“To say that there is one Arab Spring is really a misnomer. In fact, there are three Arab Springs,” she said.

  • Anti-Gadhafi and proud: Libyans chronicle their uprising in Tripoli. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • A drummer is surrounded by flags in the heady hours before President Mubarak's speech, Cairo, February 10, 2011 (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Egypt's military allowed for presidential elections in mid-2012. Rallies were held for candidates across the country. Photo taken in Edwa, April 23, 2012 (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a few months before his ouster, September, 2010. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Pope Shenouda's photograph outside the Hanging Church in Coptic Cairo, March 2012. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Mohamed Morsi was the second choice candidate of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • The few classes that are in session are light on studying. Photo taken in Benghazi, June 26, 2011. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Hunkering down: a poster of Syria's president at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Damascus, January 2012. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Voters scan the lists at a polling station in Sana'a, February 21, 2012. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Women played an unusally large role in the uprising leading to Yemen's elections. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Febuary 19, 2012 - One year after the Arab Spring hit Yemen, youths on both sides are hopeful. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • The head of the UN mission in Syria, General Robert Mood, in Hama, May 3, 2012. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Courtyard of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, January 2012. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Made in the USA: A tear gas canister is displayed by a protestor on Tahrir square, November 2011. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • A rally on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi on Tahrir Square, June 24, 2012. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Sept 4, 2011 - Waiting for action in the Gadhafi-held town of Bani Walid. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Neighbor and rebel Mohammed Arab guards Mohammed Gadhafi's abandoned home in Tripoli, August 29, 2011. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Getting a good view of the festivities in Tripoli, August 30, 2011. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in better times -- celebrating 40 years in power, August 29, 2009 in Tripoli. (E. Arrott/VOA)
  • Egypt's military took control, but some said it marked little change from the old system. Military ruler Hussein Tantawi's face merged with Hosni Mubarak, Cairo, April 2012. (E. Arrott/VOA)

Work in progress

Considering the different types of governments and the variety of local cultures in the vast region, that’s not surprising. It certainly is not to the former British ambassador to Libya and Iran, Richard Dalton, who spoke to VOA via Skype.

“The Arab Awakening was always going to be the work of a generation. It’s not a surprise that there are different rates of change. But nowhere in the Arab World has the population been untouched,” said Dalton.

Not only is change slow and uneven, in some cases it is in the wrong direction - as people deal with issues the former autocrats covered up, like economic problems that have made life worse for many, rather than better. There also are concerns about the rights of women and members of minority groups.

And while the region’s new leaders are being tougher on the West and Israel, the autocrats’ pro-Western policies have not been changed as dramatically as many had hoped.

“Whatever government is in power, countries have interests and there’s a narrow range of options for maximizing advantage to both government and people,” said Dalton.

So, whether in the presidential palaces or in the streets, two years later the Arab Spring still is very much a work in progress.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid