Sunday, May 5, 2013

Spotlight - Arab Spring
In today's fast paced world, it's difficult to keep track of all the events happening across the world. Yet, there are events which have changed the course of history and which we all need to know about. TESTfunda Spotlight turns the spotlight on such major events which have impacted people around the world and provides an in-depth coverage of events . One of such events is the Arab Spring - a string of protests and demonstrations against the rulers of the Arab countries. Many of these protests proved successful and succeeded in overthrowing the rulers, whereas some others were unfruitful. In countries such as Syria, these protests have translated into wars and are still continuing with heavy losses to life and property. 

TESTfunda Spotlight brings to you a timeline of major events and milestones of the Arab Spring as it unfolded through the years. 

Arab Spring
The Arab Spring is a series of protests, uprisings and wars occurring since 18th December 2010. These protests started in Tunisia and sparked off a growing dissatisfaction in Arab countries with absolute autocracy fora long time, unemployment, rising food prices, human rights violations and corrupt government practices. The protests involved strikes, demonstrations, marches and rallies and the effective use of social media to garner attention, spread words about the protests and to organize, communicate and raise awareness about state attempts at repression, internet and press censorship.
Governments and pro-government forces have used violent means to crush these protests and protesters have responded similarly. A major slogan of the Arab Spring protests has been “Ash-shabyurid isqat an-nizam” meaning “the people want to bring down the regime.
In terms of their scale and significance, the Arab Spring movements have often been compared to the Revolutions of 1989, also known as the “Autumn of Nations”which overthrew the communist states in various Central and Eastern European Countries.
Summary Table ofConstitutional / Leader Status
CountryType of GovernmentLeaderDuration of leadershipCurrent Status
TunisiaConstitutional RepublicZine el-Abidine Ben Ali1987 - 2011Leader Overthrown
EgyptRepublic and semi-presidentialHosni Mubarak1981 - 2011
LibyaDictatorshipMuammar Gaddafi1969 - 2011
YemenPresidential Representative Democratic RepublicAli Abdullah Saleh1999 - 2011
SyriaUnitary semi-presidential Constitutional RepublicBashar al-Assad2000 --Incumbent
BahrainConstitutional MonarchyHamad bin Isa Al Khalifa1999 --Incumbent
AlgeriaPresidential System, Semi- presidential systemAbdelaziz Bouteflika-President1999 --Incumbent
IraqFederal Parliamentary Representative Democratic RepublicNouri al-Maliki2006--Incumbent
JordanUnitary Parliamentary Constitutional MonarchyAbdullah II1999 --Incumbent
KuwaitParliamentary Constitutional MonarchyJaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah2011--Incumbent
LebanonNational AssemblyNajib Mikati2011--Incumbent
MauritaniaNational Assembly/SenateMoulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf2008--Incumbent
OmanMajlisQaboos bin Said al Said1970--Incumbent
Saudi ArabiaMajlis as-ShuraAbdullah of Saudi Arabia2005--Incumbent
DjiboutiNational AssemblyDileita Mohamed Dileita2001--Incumbent
Western SaharaDemocratic RepublicAbdelkader Taleb Omar2003--Incumbent
MoroccoParliamentAbdelilah Benkirane2011--Incumbent
SudanMajlis WataniOmar al-Bashir1989--Incumbent

Lebanon, Mauritania,Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti and Western Sahara: Minor protests

Algeria, Iraq, Jordan,Kuwait, Morocco and Sudan: Major Protests
Bahrain: Civil uprising
Tunisia, Egypt, Libyaand Yemen: Rulers have been forced from power.
Syria: Civil war.
Note: Saudi Arabia,UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Iran, the major oil-rich nations, have beenable to keep their ruling families in power.
Status after the protests:-
TunisiaTunisia currently functions as a multi-party democracy. After Ben Ali fled into exile,a caretaker coalition government was established which included members of Ben Ali’s Party, the Constitutional Democratic Rally(RCD) as well as opposition members from other ministries. As a result of daily protests, Mohamed Ghannouchi resigned and removed all RCD members and dissolved the party. The first post-revolution election took place on 23rd October, 2011 to electrepresentatives to a 217 member Constituent Assembly to draft a newconstitution. The leading moderate Islamist Party Ennahda won theelection with 37% of the votes and elected 42 women to theConstituent Assembly.
After Hosni Mubarakresigned his presidency, the Egypt Military took control andimmediately dissolved the Egyptian parliament as well as the Egyptianconstitution. Elections took place amidst widespread protests. MuslimBrotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi was the winner of thePresidential election. Protests continued as Morsi tried to rushthrough a new constitution without giving time for debating orimproving it. The Muslim Brotherhood claimed victory in theconstitutional referendum. Large scale protests are still on with theopposition complaining of unfair means as well as large scale riggingand demanding an enquiry.
Following the collapseof the Gaddafi government in August, 2011, Libya is under de-factoadministration of the National Transitional Council (NTC). On 7thJuly, 2012, the NTC supervised democratic elections to establish a200 member General National Congress to replace the Council. Theassembly will choose a Prime Minister and conduct parliamentaryelections in 2013. A new constitution will also be writtenaccordingly.
Ali Abdullah Saleh signed a power-transfer agreement in exchange for immunity from prosecution brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council, under which he would transfer power to his Vice President  Abdal-Rab Mansur al-Hadi within 30 days and leave his postas president. A Presidential Election was held on 21st February, 2012and Hadi won resounding victory with 99.8% of the vote. Hadi wassworn in as the President of Yemen on 25th February, 2012.

Timeline of Protests:

3rdJune, 2011

Protests broke out in Yemen and there was a failed assassination attempt on President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

17thDecember, 2010
A 26 year old Tunisian man, Mohammed Bouazizi, set himself afire in front of a local municipal office in protest against the police and authorities when the police confiscated his cart and beat him because he did not have a permit.

18thDecember, 2010
Small protests break out in Bouazizi’s hometown the day after and soon spread throughout the country representing the Tunisian public’s boiling frustration over living standards, police atrocities, and rising unemployment. Protests broke out against the Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and lasted for almost a month. Around 219 people were killed and 510 injured during the protests.

14thJanuary 2011
Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Aliand his wife with their 3 children flee to Saudi Arabia.

23rdOctober, 2011
Elections for a Constituent Assembly were held. The center-right and moderately Islamist Ennahda wonthe elections with 37% of the votes.

29thDecember, 2010

TheTunisian uprising sparked off protests in Algeria against the 19 yearold emergency rule.

14January 2012
Algeria:The Algerian uprising was highly successful and culminated in thelifting of the 19 year old state of emergency.
25thJanuary, 2011
Followingthe success of the Jasmine Revolution named after Tunisia’snational flower, protests broke out in Egypt. Egyptian protestorsassembled at downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest against theemergency law, poverty, unemployment and Hosni Mubarak’sgovernment. The government’s efforts to crush these protests witharmed forces escalated into violent street battles.
Mubarakresigned his presidency and handed over power to the army. Socialmedia such as Facebook and Twitter performed a key role in spreadingword about the Egyptian revolution and garnering support.
3rdMarch, 2011
The PrimeMinister of Egypt, AhmedShafik alsoresigned, after protests.
29thNovember, 2011
Parliamentaryelections were held in Egypt amidst widespread protests and violence.Citizens alleged that the original demands made at Tahrir Square hadnot been met.
20thDecember, 2011
Hundredsof women protestors took to the streets to protest against atrocitiesagainst women by the military government. Violent clashes took placebetween the security forces and demonstrators leading to the death ofseveral women.
30thDecember, 2012
Egyptianpeople in large numbers protested in Tahrir Square once againdemanding that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) speedup the transition process to a more civilian government. Many peoplewere injured or killed in the clashes that followed between theprotestors and the soldiers.
20April 2012
Thepeople once again protested in Tahrir Square and demanded a quickertransfer of power to a new president.
2ndJune, 2012
Mubarakwas sentenced to life imprisonment by an Egyptian court.
24thJune, 2012
MuslimBrotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi wins the run-off Presidentialelection.
22ndNovember, 2012
Morsipassed a controversial decree which faced widespread criticism andprotest. The decree ordered retrialsfor Mubarak-era officials responsible for violence during theuprising against his rule and stated that all decisions taken byMorsi until the election of a new parliament were exempt from legalchallenge. The decrees also prevented thecourts from attempting to dissolve the upper house of parliament orthe constituent assembly which is drawing up the country's newconstitution, both dominated by Morsi's Islamist allies.
9thDecember, 2012
Amidviolent protests, Mohammad Morsi scrapped the contentious decreegranting him unlimited powers but insisted that the referendum on thenew constitution would go ahead as planned. The concession failed topacify the opposition and protests continued.
11thDecember, 2012
TheInternational Monetary Fund Loan to Egypt was postponed after judgesrefused to oversee referendum on new constitution proposed by thepresident.
16thDecember, 2012
Votersstayed away from the polling stations because of distrust and apathytowards the government’s actions. The opposition complained oflarge-scale rigging and violations.
Egypt’sopposition called for an investigation into allegations of fraud inthe referendum on the country's contentious draft constitution, afterthe MuslimBrotherhood claimed64% of voters had backed the new charter.
15thFebruary, 2011
Protestsbroke out against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Benghazi, Libya whichsoon escalated into the Libyan Civil War.
20-28August, 2011
Thewar reached violent proportions with hundreds of civilians gettingkilled. The rebel forces refused to yield to government requests of acease fire and reconciliation by the African Union. They captured andgained control of the capital city of Tripoli and succeeded inoverthrowing the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi.
20October, 2011
MuammarGaddafi was captured and killed by rebels in the city of Sirte.
23October, 2011
TheNational Transitional Council (NTC) officially declared an end to thecivil war.
19November, 2011
MuammarGaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was captured iwhile hiding nNigeria.
15thMarch 2011
Nationwideprotests began to end the five decade rule of the Ba’ath Party andobtain the resignation of president Bashar al-Assad.
Thegovernment deployed soldiers to control the uprising and ordered theSyrian army to open fire on the demonstrators. The protests evolvedinto an armed rebellion. Defected soldiers and civilian volunteers,who formed the opposition, gradually became more armed and organizedand many of these groups received military aid from foreigncountries. The casualties were reported to be somewhere between40,000-55,000.
3rdFebruary 2012
Thegovernment began an attack on the city of Homs.
25May 2012
TheSyrian government in an attempt to quell demonstrations carried out amassacre in Houla killing a very large number of people.
12July 2012
TheSyrian army carried out a massacre in the village of Tremseh in which225 people were killed.
15July, 2012
TheInternational Committee of the Red Cross officially declared that theSyrian uprising was now a civil war.
27July, 2012
Governmentforces and rebels began fighting a battle to capture Syria's largestcity, Aleppo.The UN reportsthat over 200,000 Syrian refugees have now fled Syria, ever since thefighting began.
23September, 2012
TheFree Syrian Army moved its command headquarters from Southern Turkeyinto rebel controlled areas of northern Syria.
9October, 2012
TheFree Syrian Army seized control of Maarat-ul Naman ,a strategic town in Idlib Governorate onthe highway linking Damascus with Aleppo.
18October, 2012
TheFree Syrian Army captured the suburb of Douma, the biggest suburb ofDamascus. They claimed to have captured more than 50% of Syria’sterritory.
19October, 2012
Wissamal-Hassan, a Brigadier General of the Lebanese Internal SecurityForces (ISF) and several others with him died in a car bombing whichcame to known as the 2012 Beirut Bombing. Since al-Hassan was an allyof the anti-Assad camp in Lebanon, it was widely speculated thatSyria or its allies were behind the bombing.
12thDecember, 2012
Friendsof Syria Summit held in Marrakech. The US formally announced that itwould recognize the Syrian National Coalition as a legitimaterepresentative of the Syrian people. Britain, France, Turkey and someGulf states had already announced their endorsements on November,2012.
13thDecember, 2012
21months of war have forced at least 2 million Syrians to leave theirhome. The Syrian people are living in extremely dismal conditions.With Bashar al-Assad’s regime targeting bakeries, displaced peopleare starving with the harsh weather adding to their trouble.
Russia,which had extended unwavering diplomatic and military support,admitted for the first time that Bashar al-Assad’s troops weregradually losing ground and faced threat of a defeat at the hands ofthe rebels.
26thDecember, 2012
Thehead of the Syrian Military Police Abdelaziz Jassim al-Shalaldefected from the army and declared allegiance to the rising againstPresident Bashar al-Assad.
Russiaannounces that it’ll host Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahmi thisweek after Syrian officials held talks in Moscow to try to agree to aplan to end the 21 month old long conflict. 

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