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A Decade Later: Taking Stock of the Arab Uprisings and Turkey’s Role

This article attempts to understand the outcomes of the crackdown on the Arab revolts and the lessons learned thereof. There is no doubt that the Arab revolts were corrupted shortly after their start and used to serve the interests of counterrevolutionaries. The economic, social, and political problems, which triggered the riots in 2011, have not been mitigated a decade later. In this respect, Turkey’s respect for popular demands, the attractiveness of its democratic model, and it proactive foreign policy have concerned the Gulf states leading them to view Turkey as a country that they had to contain. However, Turkey’s post-2016 efforts to restore the balance of power through the use of hard power prevented Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from developing a new regional blueprint under the Trump administration. Right now, there are indications that all regional powers are engaging in a fresh strategic assessment.

A Decade Later Taking Stock of the Arab Uprisings and
Protesters hold placards and demonstrate outside the InterContinental Hotel in London Docklands during the visit of President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, on January 20, 2021. STEVE TAYLOR / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images
 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

A decade has passed since Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire in December 2010. The wave, which started with the so-called Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, turned into a political storm with the Tahrir Revolution in Egypt. In addition to these two countries, it brought about the demise of authoritarian leaders in Libya and Yemen. Whereas governments changed in Kuwait and Jordan, the administrations of Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco appeased the protestors by implementing certain reforms. The riots in Bahrain were crushed thanks to Saudi Arabia’s direct military intervention, as Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria survived with the help of Iran and Russia. Within several months, the regional order, which consisted of post-colonial regimes that emerged in the 1940s, experienced a major rupture. Tunisia’s Zine al-Abidin Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak had to step down just one month after the protests. In Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh resisted for one year before handing over power to his Vice President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Finally, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi lost his power as a result of international military intervention –and his life, upon falling into the hands of his opponents.

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