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Arab world witnessing signs of 2nd chapter of Arab spring

Arab world appears to be witnessing the second chapter of the Arab Spring if one goes by political unrest that is taking place in Sudan, Algeria, and Lebanon.  Protestors in these countries are voicing the same sentiments that led to the 2011 uprising in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria.

They succeeded in overthrowing the regimes of Omar al Bashir in Sudan and Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algeria with the support of the army. However, they have not succeeded in having democratically elected governments and there are also no signs of a better replacement of military-backed regimes ruling the two countries.

Like the previous revolution, this time also protestors are seeking democratization, a crackdown on corruption, better services, competent governments, and healthy economies.

As protests continued, there is skepticism if the fall of regimes would solve all the problems. This is because the results of the 2011 uprising have been a terrible nightmare as not much have been achieved  in addressing the problems of the people.

In Libya army has refused to share power with the militias, taking the risk of confronting local, regional and international forces. Eliminating the legacy of the 2011 revolution is a popular demand because it has torn the country apart and put people’s lives in danger. Situation under Muammar Qaddafi was by no means ideal. Although under his regime people were deprived of many of their basic rights and routinely subjected to injustice, the country was stable and safe.

The same can be said about Yemen, where the regime change led to foreign intervention, endless war, misery, destruction, and sufferings. There are no signs of the situation becoming normal in the near future.

In Tunis, where the uprising started first, years of turmoil and political experiments seem to be settling well with the recent general and presidential elections.

Egypt, where removal of President Hosni Mubarak led to the election of the first civilian president in six decades, the change did not live long.

Syria was last to be hit by the political storm. What started in the southern part of the country as a genuine peaceful popular move for democratization, political reforms, end of dictatorship and social justice quickly turned out to become a major regional crisis with an international dimension. The war in its eighth year now, resulting in the deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. It has destroyed most of the country. With the support of Russia and Iran President Bashar al Assad has managed to survive.

Lebanon is the latest country to be embroiled in political turmoil. Anti government protests are on since October 17.  The unrest has kept banks shut for over a month.

People are protesting against the government’s failure to find solutions to the worst economic crisis the country is facing since 1975-90 civil war, endemic corruption in the public sector, legislation such as banking secrecy that is perceived to shield the ruling class from accountability.

Global rating agency S & P flashed a warning on Lebanon, lowering its foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings deeper into junk territory.  Banks have put $1,000 cap on weekly withdrawals from US dollar accounts.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned on October 29 and protestors are also demanding the resignation of the entire political class, including Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and President Michel Aoun.

The country’s political trouble deepened further after Mohammad Safadi, a former finance minister, withdrew his candidacy for the Prime Minister post. 

(The writer is a senior journalist and served as PTI’s West Asia Correspondent)

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