The Arab Spring

“The Arab spring confirmed that peaceful change is possible and so reinforced the vision of  political Islam. The impact of this went beyond the Brotherhood to include the Salafist tendency in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya that had          questioned the democratic path.”
– Wadar Khanfar





               Throughout the Middle East                                 (started in Tunisia)


               Hundreds of thousands (250,000 in                    Syria alone)


               Thousands hurt in protests with                          more than 6000 by 2015 in Egypt                        alone.

      Countries involved:

              Tunisa, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria,                     Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco,                         Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan,                                  Lebanon, Sudan 


The Arab Spring refers to protests that started in Tunisia in December 2010. The protests later spread to other Arab countries, such as Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Morocco. It soon engulfed the whole of the Middle East, now the most unstable region in the world. People were protesting against dictators and their brutal regimes in an effort to bring democracy and reduced corruption to the Middle East. This later led to political instability, civil wars and failed states that remain unstable today. 

                 Key Actors:

  • All Arab states – most of them condemned the protests and refused to step-down at first, often resorting to aggression against their own citizens.
  • The international community – criticized the clashes and pressured the UN to act, failed to provide any effective assistance to reduce violence or improve stability.
  • Protestors and civil rights groups – organized and led the protests, in a fight for democracy and better governance.
  • The Red Cross – provides assistance and advocates for peace during the protests and consequential wars.
  • The United Nations – condemned the violence of governments in the middle east, many of whom dealt violently with protesters.



  • 17 December 2010 – Tunisia begins the crisis after a street vendor, Mohammed Bouazizi, set himself on fire protesting against local police who humiliated him.
  • 14 January 2011 – Tunisian President, Ben Ali, resigns and flees to Saudi Arabia.
  • 25 January 2011 – Egyptians demand resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.
  • 27 January 2011  – Protestors in Yemen also demand for the resignation of the president citing poor leadership.
  • 30 January 2011 – Sudanese citizens clash in Khartoum with police, demanding government’s resignation.
  • 11 February 2011 – Egypt VP Omar Suleiman announces the resignation of Mubarak with the army council assuming control.
  • 14 February 2011 – The Bahraini people also protests at the Pearl Roundabout citing poor governance as well.
  • 15 February 2011 – Protests erupt in Benghazi, Libya which escalates into the Libyan Civil War. The protests began after a lawyer representing the relatives of the victims of the 1996 prison massacre was arrested.
  • 17 February 2011 – Around 1000 military personnel dispatched to the Pearl Roundabout to quell protests. Hundreds hurt and around 3 died.
  • 17 February 2011 – Dozens die in demonstrations around Libya in areas like Benghazi, Zentan, and al-Baida.
  • 20 February 2011 – Anti-government fighters take Benghazi with hundreds of Casualties.
  • 20 February 2011 – Morocco protests begin again due to protestors citing bad governance and demanding constitutional reforms.
  • 15 March 2011 – Damascus, Syria, protests against the hard-line government begin which began the civil war that rages on up to this day.
  • 19 March 2011 – NATO begins Libya bombing after UN resolution. The French began the bombing while others like the UK, the US, and others joining later.
  • 15 May 2011 – Rebels defeat Gaddafi forces in Misrata which caused massive civilian deaths.
  • 3 June 2011 – President of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh hurt in an assassination attempt. He fled to Saudi Arabia for treatment after sustaining burns.
  • 1 July 2011 – Constitutional referendum held in Morocco to curb monarchical rule.
  • 7 July 2011 – Yemeni president appears on TV after the failed assassination calling for dialogue.
  • 20 August 2011 – The eight-day battle of Tripoli between the National Transitional Council and Government forces begins, in which nearly 2000 combatants were killed. This was codenamed “Operation Mermaid Dawn” by rebel forces.
  • 23 September 2011 – Yemen have their own Million Man March after Saleh returns to Yemen from Saudi Arabia.
  • 9 October 2011 – Maspero Massacre in Egypt after clashes between the army and Coptic Christians protesting against the destruction of a church.
  • 20 October 2011 – Gaddafi is captured and killed by rebels in Sirte. The National Transition Council declares an end to the Libyan Civil War of 2011.
  • 21 October 2011 – UN condemns Yemeni president after he dealt violently with peaceful protesters. The UN also endorsed a plan for President Saleh to step down and his family granted amnesty.
  • 23 October 2011 – The first ever election of the Arab Spring is held in Tunisia to form an assembly from 80 political parties.
  • 19 November 2011 – Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, arrested near Ubari in Libya.
  • 19 November 2011 – 50 people die in clashes between security forces and protestors at Mohamed Mahmoud Street in Cairo.
  • 23 November 2011 – The Gulf Cooperation Council and Yemen’s Saleh broker a deal for Saleh to transfer power to Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi.
  • 28 November 2011 – Egypt holds its first free elections after Mubarak.
  • 12 December 2011 – Former dissident, Moncef Marzouki is elected Tunisia President with Hamadi Jebeli becoming PM.
  • 16 December 2011 – Security forces attack the cabinet in Cairo triggering clashes. Shocking pictures of a woman being assaulted by police emerge.
  • 27 February 2012 – Saleh resigns officially and transfers power to his VP, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Al-Hadi.
  • 23 May 2012 – Egypt votes in search of a new president. The first round sees Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq emerge on top.
  • 25 May 2012 – Syrian government forces attack villages in Homs Province killing more than 100 people, children included.
  • 2 June 2012 – Mubarak sentenced to life in prison.
  • 22 June 2012 – Sudan protest over government’s desire to cut on fuel subsidies.
  • 24 June 2012 – Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, declared new President of Egypt.
  • 19 July 2012 – Ben Ali sentenced to life in prison (in absentia) by a Tunisian court for complicity in the murder of 43 protesters.
  • 11 September 2012 – US consulate in Benghazi attacked. Chris Steven, US ambassador to Libya and three other US citizens die.
  • 22 November 2012 – Morsi issues a constitutional decree making him all powerful which triggered protests again.
  • 25 January 2013 – Mass protests against Morsi, culminating to violence for days.
  • 12 February 2013 – Syria’s death toll increases to an excess of 70, 000 people.
  • 3 July 2013 – Morsi deposed and Supreme Court Chief Justice Adly Mansour becomes interim president. Morsi supporters take to protests and Muslim Brotherhood leaders arrested.
  • 14 August 2013 – Sit-ins disrupted by police in Cairo resulting in hundreds of deaths. The government declares a month long state of emergency. The VP, Mohamed ElBaradei, also resigns because of the clashes.
  • 21 August 2013 – Sad day for Syria as activists claim the government carried out chemical attacks in Damascus, killing hundreds.
  • 18 December 2013 – Morsi accused and charged with terrorism.
  • 25 December 2013 – Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt declared a terrorist group.
  • January 2014 – ISIL and Syrian opposition fight over territory. In Tunisia, the first constitution since Ben Ali’s ousting is passed.
  • March 2014 – State of emergency lifted in Tunisia by the president. In Libya, the PM is sacked and a replacement found in Ahmed Maiteg.
  • May 2014 – Former Egyptian Minister of Defence, Adel Fattah el-Sisi, wins the Egyptian presidential election.
  • June 2014 – Libyan PM resigns after his appointment is deemed unlawful. Tripoli erupts in conflict aa thousands are displaced.
  • August 2014 – Raqqa becomes the ISIS capital. An ISIS propaganda video also emerges showing the beheading of James Foley, an American journalist.
  • September 2014 – US and five Sunni Arab states (Bahrain, Joran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) launch airstrikes against ISIS in Raqqa and Aleppo.
  • December 2014 – Beji Caid Essebsi becomes Tunisia’s President.
  • February 2015Egyptian forces carry out airstrikes on ISIS in Libya after videos emerged of the ISIS killing 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt.
  • May 2015 – Morsi sentenced to death.
  • June 2015Extremist mosques closed in Tunisia after ISIS gunman mows down 38 people.
  • September 2015 -Russia sends fighter jets to hit ISIS territories. Outrage as some claim that the targeted people were anti-Assad. Meanwhile, in Libya, Gaddafi’s son, who was arrested in November 2011, is sentenced to death along with eight others.
  • October 2015 – ISIS claims responsibility for the downing of a Russian airliner in Sinai which killed all 224 people onboard.
  • January 2016 – ISIS attacks in Jakarta, Indonesia, injure 20 people. A UN report shows at least 18,800 dead between 1 Jan 2014 and 31 Oct 2015.
  • March 2017 – Mubarak acquitted of all charges relating to deaths of protesters and is now unwell aged 89.
  • November 2017 – ISIS militants kill more than 300 people at a mosque in the Sinai Peninsula
  • January 2018 – Dozens of Tunisians protest in the streets in response to steep price increases across the country. More than 200 people have been arrested, and there has been at least one reported death.
  • March 2018 – Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is re-elected after all other major competition pulled out of the race, either by force or arrest.

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