The Arab Spring: A Fight for Economic Freedom

Many of the Arab Spring nations followed the same progression of economic success, collapse, struggle, and revival that eventually caused their populations to rebel against economic inequality and corruption....

Many of the Arab Spring nations followed the same progression of economic success, collapse, struggle, and revival that eventually caused their populations to rebel against economic inequality and corruption. Many of the related countries began more or less as socialist states, that used the profit from state held industries to provide healthcare for their citizens, ensure employment for educated individuals, and subsidize consumer goods for the benefit of society. These regimes all failed in a similar manner, as their state-run industries began to falter and suffer from changing market conditions, as well as internal inefficiencies. The resulting economic downturn and forceful industrial reorganization led to social conditions that largely contributed to unrest among the population. The economic condition of the Arab states in the years leading up to the Arab Spring in 2011 was enormously important to the public’s support of revolutions that they hoped would bring about economic equality, the removal of corruption, and the formation of democratic governmental institutions.

The Arab revolutions had an easily recognizable motive: they were spurred by poverty, unemployment, and lack of economic opportunity. The Arab Spring states had similar indicators of a coming uprising. There were large populations of young educated people who could not find work, who were either risking their lives to leave the country or joining ISIS for the glimmer of a better life. The average Arab citizen lamented the state of their country’s healthcare systems and failing infrastructure, and struggled to feed themselves as government subsidies faltered and the cost of food rose. As a society, they felt helpless to affect any sort of change in the government, as elections were rigged, and the most lucrative industries were given to corrupt members of the ruling class and the leader’s family. In areas where natural resources were scarce, or in times when oil prices fell and countries suffered, economic and political incentives for development was further stifled by foreign aid.

The Economics of the Arab Spring from Al-Jazeera was a useful resource for research because it gave a very deep-delving recounting of the events that led to the Spring. In addition, the article provided a broader view of Arab institutions that had failed and led to the creation of popular movements in the various states that were involved. The Battle for the Arab Spring provided a case-by-case description of exactly which conditions led to unrest of the populations of Tunisia and Egypt, which were referenced in the full work because of their significance as semi-successful revolutionary states. The source from the World Bank gave a more recent perspective of the struggle, and served to further evaluate the conditions the led to the Arab Spring. This source was particularly interesting because it discussed all of the ways in which the Arab states appeared to be succeeding in improving living conditions and opportunity for their people.

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I am a 4th year student pursuing a BS in International Business at Champlain College in Burlingont, VT.
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