key persons of the regime can join the demonstrations. It happened so in Egypt:after the first days of the rebellion, the army decided to support the changes andno longer supported Mubarak. But the leaders of the armed forces and the police, who served as the main basis of the Mubark regime, did not lose their power, and they are pl
aying a crucial role in the current politics of the ,,new”
Egypt, too.The classic examples of revolution were 1789 or 1917, when the figures
of the ,,ancient regime” were
expelled or executed, and not only the persons of the leadership changed, but also the whole structure of the political and
economic life. 1789 or 1917 really meant a ,,new beginning”, and the
revolutionists radically tried to break away from the elements of the former regime.
,,Revolution” is a fashionable term. But not every demonstra
tion is arevolution. In the Arab World we can mostly see demonstrations, notrevolutions. Now it seems that perhaps some demonstrations can be called
e.g. in the case of Tunisia
, but the definition is unsure, becausewe can recognize a revolution by its effects and results
not by the words of the participants. And this will need much more time.
The dynamics of the unrests
The reasons behind an unrest can be numerous: they can have roots insocial, religious or ethnic tensions, political suppression or economic crisis.Sometimes they feed upon only the political sphere of the society, and the protesters demand more freedom and human rights, but in other cases we findthat the insufficient living conditions are the main motives under the surface.The beginning of riotings is often spontaneous, and a peaceful demonstrationtransforms into a more violent protest. It happened in Western Sahara, where thefuneral of Saharavi activist Hamdi Lembarki
killed by the Moroccan police
became a huge mass demonstration.
These riots often serve for channellingtensions, and if the authorities are careful, and do not try to immediatelysuppress the rioting, after some days the protestations can lose their power. Wecan see this scenario realized in most of the Arab countries: the authoritarianleadership agreed and made some limited reforms, which were enough to calmthe protesters. But in some states, the regime was not so wise: the Power doesnot show any willingness for changes and even uses brutal violence against thedemonstrators. This gave impetus to the fragmented and disorganized oppositionto come together into one platform and become stronger than ever. If thestrength and the support of the opposition is big enough, it can very easily leadto
a civil war, like in Greece after WWII or in Spain in the ‘30s. In addition, a
Stephen Zunes and Jacob Mundy: Western Sahara. War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution.Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, 2010 p. 154-161