Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
3Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
What is the most convincing explanation for the Arab Spring?

What is the most convincing explanation for the Arab Spring?

Ratings: (0)|Views: 61|Likes:
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Andre Kovalenko. Originally submitted for Contemporary politics of Middle-East and North Africa at None, with lecturer Francesco Cavatorta in the category of International Relations & Politics
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Andre Kovalenko. Originally submitted for Contemporary politics of Middle-East and North Africa at None, with lecturer Francesco Cavatorta in the category of International Relations & Politics

More info:

Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
See more
See less

10/27/2013

 
1
What is the most convincing explanation for the Arab Spring?
 
Abstract- No-one predicted this regional domino effect but everyone tried to explain it.Although scholars are now playing catch up, there is a reasonable amount of research thatseeks to explain the Arab Spring. This paper examines the available research and makes itsown conclusions drawing on some of the causal theories that have quickly emerged. It findsthat record breaking educated and technologically competent populations of the youth haveemerged throughout the MENA region. Their needs are not being met by ageing, removedand oppressive autocratic leaders. The economic crisis worsens the situation and the people,mostly the youth now have their backs to the wall with little to lose. Disenchanted withdomestic regimes they seek democracy and its principles. Utilising the internet and socialmedia they spark off the fire that will engulf the entire region in various levels this becomesthe Arab-spring.
Introduction
December 17, 2010
marked the tipping point in Mohamed Bouazizi‟s life. Out of frustrat
ionat the corrupt local authorities and the unjust treatment suffered at their hands he committedself immolation in front of the provincial headquarters where an hour before he was turnedaway when trying to make a complaint. Little did he know that his desperate act would alsoset the Arab world ablaze. First by sparking the Tunisian Jasmine revolution which in 28 daysremoved Ben Ali from power then by igniting uprisings in countries such as Egypt, Libya,Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, P.O.T and Syria. Although onlyLibya, Egypt and Yemen were successful in toppling their autocratic leaders major protestsamong other Arab countries shook the autocratic foundations with the Syrian government stillattempting to quench the fire. Whether the events that his actions triggered marked a turningpoint or a blip in the MENA region remains to be seen but the uprisings among the Arabstates took scholars by surprise (Gause, 2011). These ongoing events became known as the
“Arab Spring”
.No-one predicted this regional domino effect but everyone tried to explain it. Althoughscholars are now playing catch up, there is a reasonable amount of research that seeks toexplain the Arab Spring. This paper examines the research available and makes its ownconclusions drawing on some of the causal theories that have quickly emerged.
 
2
A recurring theme in the literature were cohorts of unemployed yet well educated youths,disaffected with: political authoritarianism, no social mobility and high degrees of corruptionpushed to mobilize due to the spiralling economic crisis and a desire to change theauthoritarian system for the benefit of their future and society. Yet the answer is morecomplex. A number of these elements working together exacerbated by a number of otherfactors gives us a more comprehensive answer. The paper finds that an interplay between anumber of mutually supporting factors accounts for the Arab Spring.
The Role of Youth
Kuhn (2011:14) highlights the „youth bulge hypothesis‟ which „emphasizes the potential for large youth cohorts, particularly males, to engage in violent social and political upheaval‟.
 
Schwartz (2011) writes that „
for years scholars have been warning about the youth bulge
 – 
 that the disproportionately large population of young men in the Arab world is a ticking timebomb
‟.
This hypothesis proves partly true as in Tunisia protests were nowhere near as violentas the protests in Libya which took the form of a civil war or the example of Syria. Howeverthe protests in Tunisia may have slid into violence had the resolution of the military beenstronger.Although the answer to the Arab Spring is more complex.
In his work „On the role of humandevelopment in the Arab Spring‟ he argues that
the Arab Spring occurred due to the rapidlyhigh level of development in the Arab world which led to an increase in the politicalparticipation and awareness by those who benefited from human development i.e. the Arabyouth who were much healthier, more skilled and much smarter but also more populous thanany preceding generations. The assumption that the youth played a pivotal role in bringingabout political change is widely accepted and strongly supported by scholars (Anderson,Kandil, Masoud, Schwartz, Teti and Gervasio, Schraeder and Redissi, 2011). But bestaccounted for by Kuhn (2011) who places enormous importance on human developmentrather than just neo-Malthusian theories of population growth. The regime in Libya, heexplains (Kuhn, 2011:14) drew comparisons with Myanmar and N. Korea for years, yet
Libya experienced rapid improvement in public healthcare and education whereas „Myanmar 
 
3
stagnated and N. Korea dipped into mass starvation.
The difference in development showedin the strength of the op
 position. Myanmar‟s opposition was isolated and crushed while N.
Korean resistance has been non-existent. Moreover the widespread Libyan resistance becamehighly organised, motivated and successfully brought an end to the regime. The correlationbetween human development and political risk in autocratic regimes is shown to be verystrong and by all rights Kuhn (2011) advises autocrats to rethink rapid human development asit may bring about their demise. However this alone may not be enough, a number of otherfactors must exist in order to turn the largest ever youth cohorts against the regime and facethe risks.Firstly
as a result of the said human development Kuhn (2011) finds that the young people‟s
expectations of employment, social advancement and marriage which will lead them toadulthood create anxiety, tension and unrest. Without the fulfilment of these expectations the
cohorts of youth are in a state of „extended adolescence‟ which may lead to aforementioned
tension and then action within society especially among the very much capable youthgenerations. But for this to occur there needs to be a high level of disaffection with theregime for the youth to face the risks of a revolt.
Youth Frustration
Evidence of youth frustration as highlighted by Kuhn (2011) can be seen in the work of otherscholars. Schraeder and Redissi (2011) highlight the most acclaimed reason for youthfrustration
 – 
underemployment and unemployment:
Unemployment had risen to 14 percent in 2010, with the figure for those aged 15 to 24 years
a hugechunk of the populace in a typically "youth-predominant" developing-world society
exceeding 30percent. Strikingly, the well-educated were especially affected. More than 45 percent of collegegraduates could not
[End Page 7]
find work in a country that offered its citizens higher learning but no job prospects
. (Schrader and Redissi, 2011:7-8)As mentioned, unemployment places severe pressure on the youth who are unable toprogress, achieve their aspirations or even buy food.Further frustration was a result of the economic crisis - rising food prices, other rising basiccommodity prices as well as rising costs of education, health care etc. The food prices havethe most impact on people and due to development and changing diets, Arab states had thehighest
Caloric consumption per capita per day for key UN developing regions,
Egypt‟s lev
el

Activity (3)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
1 thousand reads
1 hundred reads
Khaled Almedyab liked this

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->