The self-immolation of young and jobless Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi in the provincial town of Sidi Bouzid, being deprived of his vegetable stand and humiliated by the authorities, triggered popular movements and historic events in the Arab World completely unexpected in their magnitude…
… but were they really that unexpected? Have not generations of activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens for decades tirelessly pointed to the repressive practices of their governments? Was it not common knowledge that thousands were executed, imprisoned, exiled, and dissent silenced in many other ways; was not testimony after testimony collected, and report after report submitted? Did not countless experts, Arab and foreign, repeatedly stress the need for comprehensive political reforms, for economic opportunities for the growing youth population, for a redistribution of wealth, and the establishment of accountable and transparent governance?
Since the events started to unfold in December 2010, much has been speculated about the Arab “Spring,” “Awakening” or “Renaissance.”
Will these popular revolts translate into sustainable change? Will counter-movements emerge, once citizens do not feel that their lives have improved? In what way will foreign interests determine the course of events?
The authors in this special edition of “Perspectives Middle East” address the above questions and many more. The edition seeks to offer a forum for a diversity of voices and viewpoints – ranging from in-depth analytical insights to opinion pieces and testimonies.