Image 1 of 9: Bahrain took the revolution track at the start of the race, but was road-blocked by Saudi. Points for staying the course, but long-felt tensions between the Sunni minority in power & Shia majority were confounded in bloodshed, detentions & human rights abuses. Low on media appeal, Bahrain is the revolution people prefer to ignore.
Image 1 of 9: The vanguard: Tunisia's ouster of Ben Ali spawned copycat revolutions across the Arab street. Pioneer for the Arab Spring, Tunisia is still plagued by violence though Islamist Ennahda party is credited with a cracking constitution. Points for slick, decisive rebellion with minimal violence, hard change, and Che Guevara factor for revolution cool.
Image 1 of 9: Libya: Success rating relatively high with the removal of a dogged dictator of 40 years in relatively speedy terms, (compared to drawn out Syria) though some would argue that the need for foreign intervention lowers the kudos. Scored first free national elections in 6 decades in 2012, but violence persists in pockets of Libya. Time for a round two?
Image 1 of 9: Syria - A violent crackdown against anti-Assad, pro-democracy supporters spawned a serious sectarian situation. Minimal foreign intervention as of yet (not withstanding Cold War frosty diplomacy by US and Russia), massive regional spillover, few rebel gains and over 100,000 dead means Syria has lost street cred in the revolutionary game.
Image 1 of 9: Masr’s mutiny Part 1: Tunisia spurred on anti-Mubarak protests in 2011. A staunch ally of the US, Egypt was not alone. Speedy international help, the removal of the dictator and the first elections in history ensued. The blueprint for the Arab Spring - if only the Egyptian public weren't so fickle - its 2011 gains make it a regional role model.
Image 1 of 9: Part 2: Coup or not a coup? Growing unrest with Morsi led to a campaign for his removal scoring him more votes than on election! The army ousted Morsi, a bloody crackdown on protests and MB arrests restored relative calm. Egypt’s Saudi brokered revolution was well funded, violent & media-monitored - the holy trinity of rebellion requirements.
Image 1 of 9: More spillover than spring: Perhaps its Arab Spring started in 1975, but Lebanon wasn’t dragged under by the wave of protests in 2011. The country, embroiled in the Syria conflict due to Hezbollah’s support of Assad, could succumb to the dormant civil war virus given a spate of sectarian strife & explosions. No points for keeping it internal.
Image 1 of 9: Their evergreen desire to differ from Arab neighbors was briefly paused in Israel in 2011 when economic woes hit an all time high. Protesters thronged the Tel Aviv streets over unemployment and a lack of social justice. Low on revolution stamina, Israel's rebellious fervor died out, but not before leaving Tunisia-like self-immolations in its wake.
Image 1 of 9: Jordan’s King Abdullah’s savvy politics meant that any revolution was quickly nipped in the bud. Props to the monarch who,hearing the people's cries, embarked on a reform path. Although Jordan is rocked by spillover from the rest of the ME, its own Arab Spring is a weakling and hasn’t yet gained any momentum.
When protests shook the streets of Tunisia in response to the tyrannical rule of leader President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, no one could have expected the domino effect that would ripple through the region. Dubbed the ‘Arab Spring’, the Tunisian uprising set a precedent for countries across the Middle East to cast off their dictatorship shackles and demand a new system of government.
There is barely a country in the Middle East that the Arab Spring (or rather, Arab Summer) that has not tarred with the revolutionary brush. With the precedent firmly set by Tunisia, and Egypt hastily following suit, the time seemed ripe in 2011 for ordinary people across the Middle East to demand better for themselves and their country.
With so many revolutions to choose from, it’s hard not to compare them. Although all follow a similar formula in their embryonic stages, each country’s rebellious movement has been unique. There are, however, a set of criteria that any good revolution should follow such as turnout and tenacity: how many citizens flooded the streets with war cries and homemade banners demanding change? How many of their protests made the rest of the world sit up and take note? Did the revolution merit foreign intervention? Was the corrupt regime removed? How many people burned themselves in the rebel-fire? How long did it all last, and did the media burnout in the interim?
Or, like Syria, has it mutated from revolution to other lesser recognisable forms? Syria has arguably spread into a brutal civil war along sectarian lines, that up until reports of chemical weapons use flooded in, had seen nothing but international inertia.
For some countries, like Egypt, it seems one revolution was not enough. Following the elections in June 2012 that saw Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi come to power as the first democratically elected president in Egypt’s history, one year later large swathes of the fickle Egyptian public were calling for his removal - his Islamist regime was not, it seemed, what they had signed up for. A toppled Morsi later, Egypt’s Arab Spring Part II is in full swing.
Although the Middle East has never been what one could call a haven of stability, revolutions are the movement ‘du jour’ and it is time they all came head to head with each other in a ratings war.
Here is our very own revolutions ratings - where the Arab Springers are lined up side-by-side to meet with the jury's verdict and scored for tenacity, outcome, and Che Guevara factor!