Origins of the Arab Spring

  • In December 2010, Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest the arbitrary seizing of his vegetables by the police. They did so as Mohammed had failed to obtain a permit.
  • This act served as a catalyst for the now famous Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia.
  • It led to street protests in the capital of Tunis and quickly spread throughout the country. The scale of the protest forced the President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to abdicate from power and flee to Saudi Arabia after ruling Tunisia for 20 years.
  • Activists in other nations took cue from the events in Tunisia. Inspired by the first parliamentary democratic elections in October 2011 that took place in Tunisia, they began protests of their own.
  • The participants in these grassroots movements sought increased social freedoms and greater participation in the political process. Notably, this includes the Tahrir Square uprisings in Cairo, Egypt and similar protests in Bahrain.

Effect of Arab Spring

  • The ‘Tunisian Revolution’ spread like wildfire to five other countries: Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, and Syria, where the regimes were overthrown or major uprisings or social violence, such as riots, civil wars, mass murdering, or insurgencies, occurred.
  • Demonstration took place in the countries like Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, Iran’s Khuzestan, Lebanon, Jordan, Oman, Sudan, and Kuwait.
  • There were also minor protests in Djibouti, the Palestinian National Authority, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, and Morocco’s occupied Western Sahara.
  • By mid-2012, the initial wave of revolutions and protests had subsided, as authorities, pro-government militias, counter-demonstrators, and militaries retaliated violently against many Arab Spring demonstrations. Some protestors retaliated with violence in response to these attacks.
  • The Syrian Civil War, Iraqi insurgency, Egyptian Crisis, Yemeni Crisis, and Libyan Civil War are examples of large-scale conflicts.

The Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia

  • The self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old street vendor protesting his treatment by local officials, sparked the first protests in central Tunisia in December 2010.
  • A protest movement known as the “Jasmine Revolution” quickly spread across the country. Tunisia’s government tried to put an end to the unrest by using violence against street protests and making political and economic concessions.
  • However, the country’s security forces were quickly overwhelmed by protests, forcing President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to resign and flee the country on January 14, 2011.
  • Tunisians voted in a free election in October 2011 to elect members of a council tasked with drafting a new constitution.
  • In December 2011, a democratically elected president and prime minister took office, and in January 2014, a new constitution was promulgated.
  • Tunisia became the first country affected by the Arab Spring protests to have a peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another in October–November 2019.

Egypt’s January 25 Revolution

  • Following the overthrow of Ben Ali in Tunisia, similar protests were quickly organised among young Egyptians via social media, drawing large crowds across Egypt on January 25.
  • The Egyptian government also attempted to quell protests by making concessions while repressing demonstrators violently.
  • The military refused to obey President Mubarak after several days of protest.
  • After losing the military’s support, Mubarak stepped down on February 11 after nearly 30 years in power, handing over power to a council of senior military officers.


  • In Yemen, where the first protests began in late January 2011, President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s support base was weakened when a number of the country’s most powerful tribal and military leaders sided with pro-democracy protesters calling for his resignation.
  • In Sanaa, loyalist and opposition fighters clashed after negotiations to remove Saleh from power failed.
  • In November 2011, Saleh signed an internationally mediated agreement that called for a gradual transfer of power to Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, the vice president.
  • Later, Hadi’s government was confronted with armed conflict and rebellion, which culminated in a civil war in 2014.


  • In mid-February 2011, Bahraini human rights activists and members of Bahrain’s marginalised Shia majority led mass protests demanding political and economic reforms.
  • Protests were violently suppressed by Bahraini security forces, who were aided by a security force from the Gulf Cooperation Council.


  • Protests against Muammar al-regime Qaddafi’s in Libya quickly escalated into an armed revolt in mid-February 2011.
  • In March, when the rebel forces appeared to be on the verge of defeat, an international coalition led by NATO launched an airstrike campaign against Qaddafi’s forces.
  • After rebel forces took control of Tripoli in August 2011, Qaddafi was forced out from the power.
  • In October 2011, after eluding capture for several weeks, Qaddafi was assassinated in Sirte as rebel forces took control of the city.
  • A Transitional National Council established by rebel forces and recognised internationally, seized power, but it struggled to exert authority over the country, resulting in civil war in 2014.


  • In Syria, protests calling for President Bashar al-resignation Assad’s erupted in southern Syria in mid-March 2011 and quickly spread across the country.
  • The Assad regime retaliated by launching a brutal crackdown on protesters, drawing condemnation from world leaders and human rights organisations.
  • The Syrian National Council, also known as the Syrian National Transitional Council or the Syrian National Council, is a Syrian opposition coalition based in Istanbul, Turkey, that was founded in August 2011 after opposition militias began attacking government forces.
  • In October 2011 and February 2012, Russia and China vetoed UN Security Council resolutions aimed at putting pressure on the Assad regime, vowing to oppose any measure that would lead to foreign intervention in Syria or Assad’s removal from power.
  • The arrival of an Arab League delegation of peace monitors in December 2011 did little to reduce violence.
  • The escalation of violence, fueled by funding and arms from a number of rival countries interested in the outcome, resulted in a devastating civil war and a massive refugee crisis affecting millions of people.

Other Countries

  • The Arab Spring’s effects were felt across the Middle East and North Africa, with many countries in the region witnessing at least minor pro-democracy demonstrations.
  • In order to prevent the spread of protest movements in their countries, rulers in Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, and Oman made a variety of concessions, ranging from the dismissal of unpopular officials to constitutional changes.

Arab Spring 2.0

  • Protests in Algeria toppled President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s government in February 2019. After months of protests, Sudan’s military overthrew President Omar al-30-year Bashir’s rule in April. In 2019–20, Iraq and Lebanon both experienced large-scale protests.
  • Despite the fact that these protest movements were not inspired by one another, many observers referred to this wave of protests as a second Arab Spring due to the scale and similarity of their grievances.

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