By Pranav Sehgal
Recently, there has been a great deal of upheaval in the Middle East centering on anti-government protesters clashing with police and government supporters.
Although the news has been inundated with news of protests all across North Africa and the Middle East, the unrest originally started in Tunisia, and like a domino effect it has reached to all corners of the region.
Tunisia is one of the more liberal countries in North Africa. While it has a large middle class, social norms and a large tourism industry, it had one of the most oppressive governments in which corruption was rampant to the point where it was crippling its economy.
In what became known as the Jasmine Revolution, masses of protesters took to the streets to oust authoritarian leader President Ben Ali, who had been in power for 23 years.
This event served as catalyst for revolts across the region, most noticeably in Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of protesters succeeded in leading a popular uprising, which ended the rule of another authoritarian leader in North Africa, President Hosni Mubarak. Similar to Ali, Mubarak had ruled Egypt under a strict policy system for approximately 30 years.
These uprisings have inspired the masses in Yemen, Bahrain, and are expected to continue in Algeria, as the Prime Minister has yet to lift a 19-year state of emergency.
It feels as if the conservative, authoritarian and, in many cases, corrupt governments of the Middle East are being turned on their heads. It does not take a scientist to determine that not only will these protests not stop until the people of their respective countries get the reforms they want, but these protests will also spread to other areas of the region and eventually to other areas of the globe.
These current actions have also re-inspired the Iranian opposition movement after a year and a half in hiatus. It is clear that these reform movements are gaining steam and popularity among the region’s youth.
Although these protests have yet to hit some of the Middle East’s ultra-conservative countries, like Saudi Arabia, it seems inevitable that it will hit the Islamic-centered Kingdom. Even though I may doubt the effectiveness of such revolts, I still believe that they are necessary in promoting dialogue and eventually affecting change in the areas of the world where reforms are vital.