Good Book Review On The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs To Know By James Gelvin
James L. Gelvin gives an introduction of the Arab world in the first chapter of his book. Gelvin describes social, economic and political inequalities in various societies of the Arab world. He portrays the huge gap in economic status of elite class and commoners in almost every part of the Arab world. Gelvin describes how people were deprived of political powers and Arab rulers intended to concentrate power in their hands. Gelvin suggests that Arabian people are yet to see civil liberty, free media and political rights that people enjoy in other parts of the world. Lack of transparency and growing corruption further worsened the situation and people of Arabian region became extremely exasperated with the ongoing state of affairs. Arabian rulers failed in analysing the anger and dissatisfaction of people and it fuelled the uprising in various parts of the Arab world.
UNDP’s Arab human development report suggests that a majority of Arab nations were far behind from international standards in respect of civil and political liberty.
The report suggests that a majority of Arab nations failed in area of corruption, bribery and transparency from international standards.
In chapter two, Gelvin describes that irrespective of geographic, economic, social and population differences between Egypt and Tunisia, there are some common characteristics between the two nations. These common characteristics contributed enormously in toppling governments in these two countries. More than ninety eight percent population in both these nations belong to Sunni Arabs. Neoliberal economic policies, implemented by governments in their countries were almost similar and affected people of Tunisia, as well as Egypt in similar ways. People of both the nations Egypt and Tunisia were under tight rule that did not allow civil and political freedom. All these circumstances compelled people of Egypt and Tunisia to throw away their governments.
Egypt and Tunisia are homogenous. Ninety eight percent populations in both these nations belong to Sunni Arabs.
Neoliberal economic policies affected people of both Egypt and Tunisia in similar ways.
Tunisians and Egyptians suffered equally by the lack of civil and political freedom. They also suffered under similar autocratic rule.
Political experts say that a strong state should have three features: territory, bureaucracy& functioning government, and national identity. Libya and Yamen are considered as weak states because of their geography, poor distribution of population, poor development and weak leadership. Yamen is geographically diversified country with presence of mountain, desert, and canyons. Majority of Yemen population was not in the reach of state. The Libya is completely desert and majority of population live in small piece of land. Historically Yamen and Libya both countries did not experience institutional development. Yamen was divided into North and South, similarly Libya was also not unified. Yamen and Libya both countries are weak because of their poor leadership, which placed and promoted only friends & family members into the system. Oil is main factor behind survival of these countries.
Opposition parties, tribes and Media played an important role in uprising of Yamen and Libya. Functions of tribes has evolved significantly over a period of time and in modern world they participate in all major activities such as trade, politics and social life. Tribes raised their voices for their rights. Opposition parties also joint their hand together and formed Joint Meeting Parties (JMP). JMP carried out various demonstrations to register their protest against leaders. All parties involved in the movements demands for a fair and effective political system, basic human rights for all people, economic development, jobs for people, and strong government.
Around 60 to 70 percent of population in Yamen live in isolated villages that are out of reach of state.
Around 85 percent Libya’s population lives in urban area located alongside Mediterranean.
95 percent of Libya’s revenue comes from oil, and 75 percent of Yamen’s revenue comes from oil.
Protest in Algeria began on 28th December 2010, which followed by long series events & protests across the country. The protests in Algeria were inspired by the protests carried out in North Africa & Middle East. Major reasons behind the eruption of protests in Algeria were significant level of corruption, high unemployment, inflation in food prices, and unavailability of proper housing. Algerian people started protest because they were not provided with freedom of speech; they were living in poor conditions and government was not able to provide even very basic facilities to them.
Protest in Syria began in January 2011 and turned into nation-wide protest against the government of Bashar al-Assad. The major reason behind protest in Syria was failure of Bashar al-Assad in delivering his promises. Syrian people were angry with their ruler because economic situation were worst, employment level was low, corruption was all time high and people were suffering. Emergency rule was implemented in the country since 1963 till 2011, under which freedom of speech was not given to the people and security forces were provided with enormous power to arrest & detained people.
Protests in Algeria and Syria were erupted suddenly without proper planning and scrupulous preparation. Algerian and Syrian people got inspired by the Egyptian protest, and decided to raise their voices against corrupt system. In Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika amended constitution and ensured that he will run the government third time. Large percent of young people got angry with this decision. Similarly in Syria autocratic behaviour and killing of several innocent child and people raised anger of people.
200 to 350 people started protest in Syria an in respond government arrested 15 young children and killed several people in open fire.
In Syria, on funeral day 20 thousand demonstrators attacked on government premises.
In Algeria 70 percent people is below 30 years in age who want jobs and better living conditions.
Gelvin points out in his book towards lack of social, civil, economic and political freedom in all monarchical rules in Arabian nations. Resources and power were centralised into hands of some powerful people and rest of the people were literally controlled by the influenced people. Economic inequality, in particular, fuelled the uprising and growing corruption worsened the situation further. Autocratic and monarchical rule in a majority of Arabian nations oppressed the people since a long time and when they got appropriate opportunity, they revolted against monarchical rules in their countries. Religious sectarianism also played an important role in the Arab uprising, and different examples show that uprising took place in some countries due to religious sectarianism only.
Religious sectarianism played very crucial role in the uprising in Bahrain. Majority of population in Bahrain belongs to Shi’i sect while rest of the population belongs to Sunnis. The peculiar thing was that Sunnis were in the government even if they were minority. The growing religious intolerance was already a reason of dissatisfaction in the majority population in Bahrain, and uprisings in other regions of Arab sparked the majority population in Bahrain. Shi’is found this opportunity appropriate and they decided to throw away the Sunni rule.
Lack of civil and political freedom and freedom of expression fuelled the anger in people in various societies of Arabian region.
Rule of minority Sunnis turned out to be a major reason of the uprising in Bahrain.
The uprisings in the Arab world are going to affect the whole region in very serious manner. The role of the United States in fuelling the uprising maybe doubtful but it serves the interest of the US. United States of America has become more powerful after dividing Arabians and its intervention will grow further in the Arab region. United States gets fresh opportunities to deal with every Arabian country separately. Every nation in the Arab world will have to see the Israel Palestine and Iran issues in new perspectives. People have expressed their anger through uprisings, and now they expect same amount of civil, political and economic liberty as people enjoy in other parts of the world.
US intervention is supposed to grow in affairs of the Arabian region.
Arab world will have to see various issues with changed and new perspectives, including the issue of Israel and Palestine.
Arabian societies will be able to see more social, civil, economic and political freedom.