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The first anniversary of the „Arab Spring” – What kind of change have taken place since then

The first anniversary of the „Arab Spring” – What kind of change have taken place since then

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Published by Besenyő János
Article in theTradecraft Review (with Viktor Marsai), Periodical of the Military National Security Service, 2012, 2. Special Issue, p. 5-16.
Article in theTradecraft Review (with Viktor Marsai), Periodical of the Military National Security Service, 2012, 2. Special Issue, p. 5-16.

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Published by: Besenyő János on Feb 25, 2013
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05/14/2014

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5
EVALUATIONS, ANALYSES, STUDIES
Maj. János BESENYŐ
, PhD
 – 
Viktor MARSAI
THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE
”ARAB SPRING” 
 
 –
WHAT KIND OF CHANGESHAVE TAKEN PLACE SINCE THEN?
Abstract
The wave of 
 „Arab Spring”
has generated an atmosphere of hope andenthusiasm within and beyond the borders of the Arab World. The journaliststermed the process as
the ,,Arab revolution”
1
and it was expected that thedownfall of old dictators would bring about basic changes in North Africa andthe Middle East. Nevertheless, the results have remained limited yet. Although some authoritarian leaders have left the scene, this does not automatically mean a regime change. The structures and the reliable persons of the former dictators are still in power, as it is obvious in the case of the key country of theregion, Egypt. If the protesters of the
 „Arab Spring”
would like to reach a real
breakthrough, which the scientists can call ,,revolution”, they must continue the
efforts to transform the political and economic system of their countries into amodern one, which is able to give adequate answers to the internal andexternal challenges of the 21
 st
century. Although there is no silver path for the success in this transformation, and each country should find her own way, it islikely that the halfway measures will not bring the hoped better life for the Arabs, and these insufficient solutions will only increase the gap between thedifferent parts of the society 
and between the Muslim world and the West.
Introduction
According to the famous writer Hannah Arendt, we can speak aboutrevolution only if the use of violence leads to the creation of a totally new political structure, which breaks with the structures of the past, and it determinesitself as a new beginning.
2
The overthrowing of a dictator does not mean per se a
,,revolution”, because the structure of an authoritarian regime
is more stable, andthere is no leader who can maintain his power alone. In most cases, anauthoritarian regime forms its client-system, which, through the securityservices and the army, serves as the basis of its power. But if the society can nolonger bear the rule of the dictator, and it becomes evident that he must go, some
1
2
Hannah Arendt: A forradalom (The Revolution)
, Európa, 1991. 45.
 
 
6
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
“revolution” – 
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.
3
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
3
Stephen Zunes and Jacob Mundy: Western Sahara. War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution.Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, 2010 p. 154-161
 
7
civil war usually does not remain only an inner policy issue; in both of theaforementioned conflicts, it could be observed that the external actors played acrucial role in the war.The revolutionists can seize the power if they have small, but organizedelite which is capable of driving the processes, giving direction to the events andobtaining the support of the people. If the unrest cannot produce such a group,the protests can lead to anarchy and chaos, which finally result in legitimatingthe rule of the former regime.Till the end of 2010, North Africa was considered as a relatively stable part of the world. The nationalist, authoritarian leaders of the region came to p
ower in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and it seemed that their rule would never end. They
survived the Cold War, the Arab-Israel wars, the collapse of the CCCP and the
,,War on Terror” campaign. The regional status quo was more or less acceptable
for the dictators, t
he West and the ,,rest of the world” – 
e.g. the BRICS countries
 – 
, too, and because of this consensus the analysts considered that the status quois sustainable.
4
Therefore, the unexpected events in Tunisia, and then in Egypt,shocked the international system, and the great powers needed weeks to react tothe unrests.
The Egyptian oil production. The decline of the exports cut the endowment of the main
consumer’s goods, which undermined the social and economic security in the
country.
5
 
4
5
 – 
the convergence of oil decline, political and socio-economic crisis.http://crudeoilpeak.info/egypt-the-convergence-of-oil-decline-political-and-socio-economic-crisis. Downloaded: 12-12-2011.

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