Tag Archives: Arab Spring

Sources of Instability in the MENA Region


CSIS. “The Causes of Stability and Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa: An Analytic Survey.” February 13, 2012.
A great briefing that looks at the underlying causes of instability in MENA. This report Arab Spring instability will continue for at least ten years. Some factors destabilizing MENA include a booming youth population, unemployment, the illusion of oil wealth, high costs, clash within a civilization, rapid change, weak rule of law, weak institutions, and corruption. CSIS argues that IGOs, NGOs, and watchdogs should gather “data in key areas like unemployment and underemployment, income distribution, the efficiency of the state sector, barriers to growth and economic development, the size and function security forces and police, and quality of governance,” and “statistical standardization” between states.” Ultimately, the results of Arab Spring go further than regime change, and into the realm of nation-building. For the MENA region to succeed, the new administrations need to reevaluate the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and state. For economics, this change means working with international partners and NGOs to develop critical infrastructure while diversifying spigot economies to prevent long term financial ruin and corruption. Furthermore, the state can seek to regulate rather than crack down on informal economies. For politics, this opportunity means the creation of a legitimate government, which follows the rule of law, has institutions that facilitate political institutions that cooperation with the population to eliminate social grievances. For society, this impetus means the establishment of new networks including “strong” links through the local level of government and business – education, police, and welfare, and “weak” links through the international community and specific issue groups through multilateral institution cooperation and advances in communications, utilizing social media as a vehicle for advocacy and reform.

What the Arab Spring Tells Us About the Future of Social Media in Revolutionary Movements

Lindsey, Richard A. “What the Arab Spring Tells Us About the Future of Social Media in Revolutionary Movements.” Small Wars Journal. July 29, 2013. http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/what-the-arab-spring-tells-us-about-the-future-of-social-media-in-revolutionary-movements.

Lindsey contends in his thesis that “the future of revolutionary movements in globalized societies will involve social media is assured, but the degree to which it will is yet to be determined.” He argues that social media “facilitate[d], not create[d]” the conditions need for the regime change of Arab Spring. Some ways social media facilitated the movements included the dissemination of propaganda, recruitment of volunteers, and intelligence gathering. However, Lindsey argues that social media did not create the conditions need for revolt, as the digital networking is based off of “weak links” and operated in concert with other forms of creating mass political movements, such as person-to-person contact and other forms of media. My conclusions from this article are that: the twenty-first century will expand the media clout of non-state actors – NGOs, protestors, terrorists, and individuals – who will capitalize on social media to facilitate their command and control.

Al Jazeera English. “Social Media and Revolution in the Arab World.” The Stream. February 18, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAuxNXmAbyY

The Changing Relationship between the Individual and State in Complex Social Networks during the Arab Spring.

Social Media Under Fire, courtesy of Mother Jones
Social Media Under Fire, courtesy of Mother Jones

Liebelson, Dana. “MAP: Here Are the Countries That Block Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.” Mother Jones. March 28, 2014. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/turkey-facebook-youtube-twitter-blocked.

This journalistic article “names and shames” countries that have banned social media. The main argument of this article follows the Erdogan administration’s quest to “quell anti-government sentiment” by limiting social media, as the networks would speed the transmission of subversion against the regime. The article also has a handy map, “Social Media Under Fire: Countries that block Twitter, Facebook, or Youtube,” which illustrates Liebelson’s information. She then goes country by country naming the level of government censorship of social media, including Iran, Turkey, and Eritrea. This article has the “need to know” on the current struggle of national security versus liberty in terms of internet censorship. Ultimately, citizens will find a digital medium to disseminate their message, regardless of the level of censorship.

Arab Spring Timeline

Arab Spring Timeline, courtesy of the Daily Mail U.K.
Arab Spring Timeline, courtesy of the Daily Mail U.K.

Blight Garry, Sheila Pulham and Paul Torpey. “Arab spring: an interactive timeline of Middle East protests.” The Guardian. January 5, 2012. http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2011/mar/22/middle-east-protest-interactive-timeline.

This multimedia interactive has a detailed timeline from December 12, 2010 through December 17, 2011 on the Arab Spring protests that swept the MENA region.[1] The analysts used a simple typography, diving up events by a key (Protest/Response to Protest, Political Move, Regime Change, and International/External Response). The countries included Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen.[2] Each event has a brief synopsis and links to pertinent Guardian articles. The key changes over this period are: people in the MENA region gradually evolved to see themselves more as citizens of a state than subjects of an administration, and the growth of web-based epistemic communities through social media as a vehicle for reform.


Syria: Al-Qaeda’s New Home

“Three years ago, an uprising against the Assad regime turned into what looked like a straightforward civil war between Syrian government forces and rebels. However, over time, what had started as a largely secular opposition movement began to take on more of a radical Islamist tone, with two al Qaeda offshoots — the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra — becoming the dominant forces on the ground across the rebel-held North.”

– VICE News

Networking for Change

Great video that describes digital media as a vehicle for change in the Middle East and North Africa.

Amnesty International. “Networking for change, social media in the Middle East and North Africa.” Youtube. January 28, 2011.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apUtmzbx3vo

BBC on Arab Spring

New Libyan Army, courtesy of the BBC.
New Libyan Army, courtesy of the BBC.

The BBC has a network page dedicated to the Arab Spring revolts across the Middle East and North Africa. It is a great overview of the rapid changes in states, on a country by country basis, including Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia. It is truly a great synopsis.

BBC. “Special Report: Arab Uprisings.” December 2013. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12813859