2018–19 Arab protests

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2018–19 New Arab Spring
Part of the Protests of 2019
سلمية الحراك الشعبي.jpg
Jordan Protests, June 2018 - 17.jpg
Iraqi protests in October 2019 (Liberation square).jpg
2019 Lebanese protests - Beirut 11.jpg
Sudanese protestors celebrate signing of political agreement.png
Date1 January 2018 – Present
(1 year, 11 months and 2 weeks)
Location
Arab League countries in North Africa and Middle East (i.e. MENA)
Caused by
Goals
Methods
Status

The 2018–19 Arab protests,[1][failed verification] also referred to as the New Arab Spring[2] or Arab Spring 2.0,[3] are massive anti-government protests in several Arab countries, including Tunisia, Jordan, Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon-[2] Economic protests also took place in the Gaza Strip.[4] Sustained civil disobedience in Sudan resulted in the overthrow of president Omar al-Bashir in a military coup d'état,[5] the 3 June 2019 Khartoum massacre of protestors, and the transfer of power from a military junta to a combined military–civilian Sovereignty Council that is legally committed to a 39-month transition to democracy. The alternative names "New Arab Spring" and "Arab Spring 2.0" refer to similarity with the preceding Arab Spring wave of pro-democracy protests which took place in 2010–2012.

Context and background[edit]

Tesbih Habbal and Muzna Hasnawi, Syrian editors writing in The Nation in October 2019, argued that the 2018–2019 sustained street protests in the Arab world starting with Sudan in December 2018, Algeria in February 2019, Egypt and Iraq in September and October 2019, Syria and Lebanon in October 2019, constituted a second wave of the process that started with the 2010–2011 Arab Spring. Syrian protestors in October held signs stating, "Syria—Egypt—Iraq: You've revived the spirit of the Arab people, from the [Atlantic] Ocean to the [Persian] Gulf!" Habbal and Hansawi described the process as having "profoundly changed the political consciousness of the region", overcoming fear of political activity and "setting a crucial precedent for challenging the persistence of authoritarianism". Habbal and Hansawi argued that the October protests in Syria "[proved] that even ruthless repression and tyranny cannot deter the resistance."[6]

Habbal and Hansawi argued that the new wave of protests frequently included usage of the slogan "Al-shab yurid isqat al- nizam!" (The people want the fall of the regime!) used during the 2010–2011 Arab Spring.[6]

Timeline by country[edit]

Jordan[edit]

The 2018 Jordanian protests started as a general strike organized by more than 30 trade unions on 30 May 2018 after the government of Hani Mulki submitted a new tax law to Parliament. The bill followed IMF-backed austerity measures adopted by Mulki's government since 2016 that aimed to tackle Jordan's growing public debt. Although Jordan had been relatively unscathed from the violence that swept the region following the 2011 Arab Spring, its economy had taken a hit from the surrounding turmoil and from an influx of a large number of Syrian refugees into the country. Jordan also hosts a large contingent of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees, further straining its finances. The UNHCR places Jordan as the world's second largest host of refugees per capita.[7]

The day following the strike on 31 May, the government raised fuel and electricity prices responding to an increase in international oil prices. This led to crowds of protesters pouring onto the 4th circle, in Amman, near the Prime Ministry's offices that night. Other Jordanians also gathered across the country in protest of the measure in unprecedented large numbers. On 1 June King Abdullah intervened and ordered the freeze of the price hikes; the government acquiesced but said the decision would cost the treasury $20 million. The protests continued for four days until Mulki submitted his resignation to the King on 4 June, and Omar Razzaz, his Education Minister, became Prime Minister. Protests only ceased after Razzaz announced his intention of withdrawing the new tax bill.

The protests have not been led by traditional opposition groups like the Muslim Brotherhood or leftists, but by diverse crowds from the middle and poor classes. Although some protesters set aflame tires and blocked roads multiple nights, protests were largely peaceful and few casualties were reported. They were staged after daylight hours as it was during the month of Ramadan.

Tunisia[edit]

The 2018 Tunisian protests were a series of protests occurring throughout Tunisia. Beginning January 2018, protests erupted in multiple towns and cities across Tunisia over issues related to the cost of living and taxes.[8] As of 9 January, the demonstrations had claimed at least one life, and revived worries about the fragile political situation in Tunisia.[8]

The Popular Front, an alliance of leftist opposition parties, called for continued protests against the government's "unjust" austerity measures while Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed denounced the violence and appealed for calm, claiming that he and his government believe 2018 "would be the last difficult year for Tunisians".[9]

Iraq[edit]

The 2018–19 Iraqi protests over deteriorating economic conditions and state corruption started in July 2018 in Baghdad and other major Iraqi cities, mainly in the central and southern provinces. During the latest nationwide protests erupting in October 2019, Iraqi security forces have killed over 100 people and over 6,000 have been injured, leading Iraq's president Barham Salih to call the actions of security forces "unacceptable."[10] Some police have also been killed in the protests.[11][12] The protests are the deadliest unrest in Iraq since the end of the civil war against ISIL in September 2017.[13]

Algeria[edit]

Protester holds a placard during the 2019 Algerian protests

The 2019 Algerian protests, also called Revolution of Smiles[14][15] or Hirak Movement,[16] began on 16 February 2019, ten days after Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his candidacy for a fifth presidential term in a signed statement. These protests, without precedent since the Algerian Civil War, have been peaceful and led the military to insist on Bouteflika's immediate resignation, which took place on 2 April 2019.[17] By early May, a significant number of power-brokers close to the deposed administration, including the former president's younger brother Saïd, had been arrested.[18][19]

Egypt[edit]

The 2019 Egyptian protests consist of protests by thousands of people in Cairo, Alexandria, Damietta and five other Egyptian cities starting on 20 and 21 September 2019 in which the protestors called for President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to be removed from power.[20][21] Security forces responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and live bullets[21] and, as of 6 October 2019, 3000 arrests had been made,[22] based on data from the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.[23][24] Prominent arrestees included human rights lawyer Mahienour el-Massry,[25] journalist and former leader of the Constitution Party Khaled Dawoud and two professors of political science at Cairo University, Hazem Hosny and Hassan Nafaa.[23] The wave of arrests was the biggest in Egypt since Sisi formally became president in 2014.[26][22] Human Rights Watch called for all those arrested for peacefully expressing their opinions to be released immediately.[27] Amnesty International described the Sisi government being "shaken to its core" by 20–21 September protests and that the authorities had "launched a full-throttle clampdown to crush demonstrations and intimidate activists, journalists and others into silence".[28] Two thousand people, including Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) representatives, protested in Khartoum on 26 September in support of Waleed Abdelrahman Hassan, a Sudanese anti-Islamist student detained by Egyptian authorities, who gave a forced confession on MBC Masr television.[29][30] The SPA stated, "the era when Sudanese citizens were humiliated inside or outside their country has gone and will never return".[29] The Sudanese Foreign Ministry summoned the Egyptian ambassador[31] and Waleed Abdelrahman Hassan was freed on 2 October 2019.[32]

Gaza[edit]

The 2019 Gaza economic protests,[4][33] dubbed as We Want to Live protests,[34] began on February, initiating with the popular call "We want to live" by a group of politically unaffiliated media activists.[4] The group has been nicknamed the 14 March movement.[33] The protests aim at high costs of living and tax hikes in the Gaza Strip.

Lebanon[edit]

People waving the Lebanese flag in Beirut during the 2019 Lebanese protest

The 2019 Lebanese protests are a series of protests in response to the government's failure to find solutions to an economic crisis that has been looming for the past year.[35] It is suspected that the direct trigger to the protests were due to the planned imposed taxes on gasoline, tobacco and online phone calls such as through WhatsApp,[36][37] as protests started breaking out right after unanimous Cabinet approval of the WhatsApp taxes, due to be ratified by 22 October.[38]

In contrast to the 2005 Cedar Revolution, and similarly to a process started in the 2015–16 Lebanese protests, the 2019 protests were non-sectarian, crossing the Sunni–Shia Muslim sociological and religious divide and bypassing traditional political party alignments. Lina Khatib, writing in Al Jazeera English, interpreted the protests as a "social revolution".[39]

Sudan[edit]

Revolution[edit]

The Sudanese Revolution was a major shift of political power in Sudan that started with street protests throughout Sudan on 19 December 2018[40][41] and continued with sustained civil disobedience for about eight months, during which the 11 April 2019 Sudanese coup d'état deposed President Omar al-Bashir after thirty years in power, 3 June Khartoum massacre took place under the leadership of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) that replaced al-Bashir, and in July and August 2019 the TMC and the Forces of Freedom and Change alliance (FFC) signed a Political Agreement and a Draft Constitutional Declaration legally defining a planned 39-month phase of transitional state institutions and procedures to return Sudan to a civilian democracy.[42][43][44] In August and September 2019, the TMC formally transferred executive power to a mixed military–civilian collective head of state, the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, and to a civilian prime minister (Abdalla Hamdok) and a mostly civilian cabinet, while judicial power was transferred to Nemat Abdullah Khair, Sudan's first female Chief Justice.[45]

Later protests[edit]

Summary of conflicts by country[edit]

Country Date started Status of protests Outcome Death toll Situation
 Tunisia 1 January 2018 Ended in February 2018 2018 budget repealed 1[8] 2018 Tunisian protests
 Jordan 30 May 2018 Ended on 7 June 2018 Prime Minister Hani Mulki resigns and is replaced with Omar Razzaz.
  • Tax bill withdrawn
2018 Jordanian protests
 Iraq 16 July 2018 Ongoing as of November 2019 Resignation of the Iraqi Prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi 436[46] 2018–19 Iraqi protests
 Sudan 19 December 2018 Transitionary phase protests ongoing as of October 2019 Ousting of Omar al-Bashir in a military coup d'état 246[47]
 Algeria 16 February 2019 Ongoing as of October 2019 Resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika due to the pressure of the military 3[48][49] 2019 Algerian protests
 Gaza 14 March 2019 Ongoing as of October 2019 Protests repressed by Hamas security forces 2019 Gaza economic protests
 Egypt 20 September 2019 Protests ended on 27 September 2019; prisoners unreleased as of November 2019 2019 Egyptian protests
 Lebanon 17 October 2019 Ongoing as of November 2019 Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigns. 5[50][51] 2019 Lebanese protests
Total death toll and other consequences: 691+
(combined estimate)
daggerCount excludes ousted short-term leaders: Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf in Sudan quit after one day in response to protests; Abdel Fattah al-Burhan led the military-only TMC in Sudan and in response to protests became the chair of the mixed civilian–military Sovereignty Council of Sudan that replaced the TMC.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Protests are making a comeback in the Arab world". 21 March 2019 – via The Economist.
  2. ^ a b Tisdall, Simon (26 January 2019). "Will corruption, cuts and protest produce a new Arab spring?". The Guardian.
  3. ^ "Arab Spring 2.0? Protests after Tunisian journalist calls for revolt, sets himself on fire". RT International.
  4. ^ a b c "Gaza rights groups denounce Hamas crackdown on protests". Al Jazeera English. Archived from the original on 20 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Sudan's Omar al-Bashir forced out in coup". CNN. 11 April 2019. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  6. ^ a b Habbal, Tesbih; Hasnawi, Muzna (10 October 2019). "In the Midst of Chaos, an Invincible Arab Spring – This month's protests in Syria, Iraq, and Egypt prove that what began in 2010 was just the beginning of a long revolution". The Nation. Archived from the original on 21 October 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Jordan second largest refugee host worldwide – UNHCR". The Jordan Times. 8 March 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
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  9. ^ Cite error: The named reference :0 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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  14. ^ Adlène Meddi (15 March 2019). "Algérie, les 4 pièges à éviter pour la "révolution du sourire"" [Algeria, the 4 traps to avoid for the "smile revolution"]. Le Point (in French). Retrieved 16 March 2019.
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  25. ^ "Lawyer Mahienour al-Massry arrested and Karama Party leader appears before Supreme State Security Prosecution after forced disappearance". Mada Masr. 22 September 2019. Archived from the original on 23 September 2019. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
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  49. ^ "Algérie: un manifestant blessé meurt". Le Figaro (in French). 19 April 2019.
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