Arab Spring's 10th anniversary: What was 21st century's biggest movement all about?

Updated: Dec 14, 2020, 05:38 PM(IST)

Arab Spring can easily be one of 21st Century's most popular and widespread uprising. This movement, that will this week complete 10 years, was started to bring democracy in the Arab world and North Africa. 

So, let's find out what was Arab Spring all about and its consequences.

Fruit seller sets himself on fire

Mohammed Bouazizi, a young fruit seller on December 17 set himself on fire in protest against police officials who had seized his cart and items. 

This incident fuelled massive protests across Tunisia against unemployment and poverty. 


Fire spreads in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria

The political movement in Tunisia found support in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria and protesters of these countries also started demonstrating against their dictatorial regimes. At every part of this region, Bouazizi's story of earning about $2 a day to feed a family of eight was discussed and how poor people like him were being suppressed by authoritarian governments. 


Smartphones to the rescue

It was during this time that the technology of smartphones gained popularity and protesters belonging to these regions used these devices to organise protests and gather support, among other things.

"Blogs and social networks were not the trigger, but they supported the social movements," former Tunisian activist Sami Ben Gharbia, who ran a blog from exile and returned home amid the 2010 movement, was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.

"They were a formidable weapon of communication."


Tunisia's success story

Dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's regime was brought down in its knees in less than a month and Bouazizi's death led to him fleeing the country after ruling it for 23 years. 

He fled to Saudi Arabia and the nation attained democracy. The country adopted a new constitution that limits presidential term and Beji Caid Essebsi became Tunisia's first democratically head of state. 


Devastation in Syria

Syria became a battleground between multiple parties during the Arab Spring. Russia, Iran and Hezbollah's support to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad led to the crush the dissidents' movement. It also led to a rise of the Islamic State, which was later crushed largely by Assad and its allies. However, the chaos in Syria still continues with massive destruction and killings of more than 380,000 people and displacement of millions. 

Assad's forces control about 70 per cent of Syria's territory, but attacks by other parties continue. 


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