A brief history of Arab Spring revolts, and where they are today
On the anniversary of Egypt's revolution, here's a rundown of what happened in the rest of the region's revolutions, and how they ended up. (AFP/File)
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As anyone with an Internet connection and an interest in the Middle East has likely taken note of, today marks the five year anniversary of the toppling of Egypt's former president, Hosni Mubarak, on January 25, 2011.
The embattled leader stepped down after 18 days of fierce protest across the country, concentrated in Cairo's Tahrir Square, on February 11.
As has been discussed extensively, in the eyes of many activists there five years ago, Egypt today is far from what one could call a successful revolution. Still, as Egyptian activist and blogger Mahmoud Salem pointed out, changes like the ones those in 2011 hoped for do not come overnight.
Salem's statement isn't necessarily exclusive to Egypt, either. After all, Tahrir Square came weeks after the popular toppling of another regime—former Tunisian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. And it was followed by more regional states to form what we know now as the Arab Spring.
So where are those countries today? Here's a brief roundup:
Tunisia: This North African country sparked it all when a 26-year-old fruit vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi lit himself alight in the streets on Dec. 17,2011. Ten days after his death on Jan. 4, 2011, protesters overthrew Ben Ali's government. Despite two new governmental bodies and elections since then, today, turmoil still plagues the country. Protests have raged all week across the country, as demonstrators decry rampant unemployment and lack of opportunity.
Egypt: By now you know how this uprising began—and ended—in 2011. Egyptians headed to the streets en mass again in 2013, eventually toppling their first democratically-elected president, Mohammed Morsi. Today's Egypt, under the leadership of military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, still has a long way to go. Countless activists and journalists are detained, Morsi faces a possible death sentence and Egyptian forces have struggled to stem the growing threat of extremism from Daesh and other groups.
Yemen: The impoverished Gulf country may not be known for it now, since Saudi's air campaign usually makes pretty big headlines there instead. But back in early 2011, Yemenis were itching for leadership change as they watched the ones in Tunisia and Egypt. Theirs began on Jan. 27, just a few days after Tahrir Square fired up. But it would take over a year to overthrow former Yemeni leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh. One month after the anniversary of the uprising, Saleh stepped down on February 27, 2012. Today, Yemen is in chaos, as Houthi militants clash with tribesmen and a flurry of Saudi airstrikes destroy the country's infrastructure.
Libya: Protests against the leadership of former president, Muammar Gaddafi launched in Benghazi on February 15, 2011. Those demonstrations were met with a fierce response from Gaddafi's security forces and government-loyalists, soon ignited into a full-blown rebellion until the leader was captured and killed by rebel fighters while trying to escape from the city of Sirte. Libyans declared the country 'liberated,' but fighting flung it directly into a second civil war. Today, several governmental bodies and militias continue to vie for power against the internationally recognized but weak Council of Deputies government.
Syria: It's no secret what's become of the war-torn country. But it too began as a revolution with the same ideals as those seen elsewhere in the region. Protests spread to the capital Damascus on March 15, 2011 after demonstrators in the southern city of Daraa became enraged by the arrests of several young boys who wrote anti-government graffiti there. When street marches demanding more freedom, release of political prisoners and poltiical reforms were met with live fire and crackdowns, a full-blown civil war soon took hold. Today, well, you know the story.
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