Arab Spring

Protests and revolutions in the Arab world in the 2010s

The Arab Spring (Arabic: الربيع العربي, ar-rabīˁ al-ˁarabī) is a term used in the media for the revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests (both non-violent and violent), riots, and civil wars in the Arab world that began on 18 December 2010. The protesters were angry that their countries did not give them many rights. They also felt that, because of the governments, their quality of life was poor.

Arab Spring
Tunisia Unrest - VOA - Tunis 14 Jan 2011 (2).jpg
Protesters in Tunisia (January 2011)
Date17 December 2010 – 2012
North Africa, Middle East (i.e. MENA or "Arab world")
  • Tunisia: President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali ousted, charged, exiled and government overthrown.
  • Egypt: President Hosni Mubarak ousted, arrested, charged, and government overthrown.
  • Libya: Leader Muammar al-Gaddafi killed following a civil war that saw a foreign military intervention, and government overthrown.
  • Yemen: President Ali Abdullah Saleh ousted, and power handed to a national unity government.
  • Syria: President Bashar al-Assad faced civil uprising against his rule that deteriorated into armed rebellion and eventual full-scale civil war.
  • Bahrain: Civil uprising against the government crushed by authorities and Saudi-led intervention.
  • Kuwait, Lebanon and Oman: Government changes implemented in response to protests.
  • Morocco, Jordan and Palestine: Constitutional reforms implemented in response to protests.
  • Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan and other Arab countries: Protests.
Death(s)61,080+ (International estimate; see table below)

The Arab Spring resulted in many leadership changes. By 2012, most of the governments involved had either been defeated and replaced or had stopped the protests.

A few years after the Arab Spring stopped, the Arab Winter began. Many countries went back to having leaders that limited rights and many terrorist groups were made. Many protests have continued.


The protests forced rulers out of power in Tunisia, Egypt (twice), Libya and Yemen. Civil uprisings occurred in Bahrain and Syria. Large protests happened in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Sudan. Smaller protests happened in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara and Palestine. There were minor protests in countries that are not part of the Arab World, such as Iran and Israel.

There were border clashes in Israel. Protests in Iranian Khuzestan by the Arab minority occurred in 2011. Weapons and Tuareg fighters returning from the Libyan civil war had encouraged a conflict in Mali in North Africa. The clashes in Lebanon were described as a spillover of violence from the Syrian uprising.


The protests shared some techniques of civil resistance in sustained campaigns involving strikes, demonstrations, marches, and rallies. They were also effective at using social media to organize, communicate, and raise awareness against state attempts at repression and Internet censorship.

Many Arab Spring demonstrations were met with violent responses from authorities, as well as from pro-government militias and counter-demonstrators. These attacks were answered with violence from protestors in some cases. A major slogan of the demonstrators in the Arab world was Ash-sha`b yurid isqat an-nizam ("the people want to bring down the regime").

Some observers compared the Arab Spring movements to the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in Eastern Europe or the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states.

  Government overthrown   Sustained civil disorder and governmental changes   Protests and governmental changes
  Major protests   Minor protests   Protests outside the Arab world

Origin of termEdit

The first specific use of the term Arab Spring as used to signify these events may have started with the American political journal Foreign Policy. Marc Lynch, referring to his article in Foreign Policy, writes "Arab Spring—a term I may have unintentionally coined in a January 6, 2011 article". Joseph Massad on Al Jazeera said the term was "part of a US strategy of controlling [the movement's] aims and goals" and directing it towards American-style liberal democracy. Due to the electoral success of Islamist parties before protests began in many Arab countries, the events have also come to be known as "Islamist Spring" or "Islamist Winter".[1][2]

Arab winterEdit

The series of protests and demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa has become known as the "Arab Spring", and sometimes as the "Arab Spring and Winter" even though not all the participants in the protests are Arab. It was sparked by the first protests that occurred in Tunisia on 18 December 2010 following Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation in protest of police corruption and ill treatment. The protests also triggered similar unrest outside the region resembling a 'chain effect'.

Related pagesEdit


  1. The Atlantic: Muslim Protests: Has Obama Helped Bring On an Anti-U.S. 'Islamist Spring'?, 23 September 2012, retrieved 2 August 2013
  2. Foreign Policy: Learning to Live With the Islamist Winter, 19 July 2012, retrieved 2 August 2013