Posted on October 24, 2011 in Arab American Institute

After decades of apparent political stagnation, the Arab world saw the first glimmers of democratic change in January 2011 when, inspired by the self-immolation of a Tunisian streetvendor, Tunisians rose up and ousted strongman Zine El-Abidine Ali. Protests quickly spread across the region, from Morocco to Bahrain. The “Arab Spring” was a remarkable outpouring of pent-up political frustration and economic grievances, mostly manifested in non-violent passive resistance and popular demonstrations for democracy and economic opportunity.

These street protests also succeeded in toppling Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, and forced Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh to flee temporarily into Saudi Arabia, while massive campaigns are still on-going in Libya, Syria, and Bahrain. As the regional dynamics have changed, so too has the Arab world’s interactions with the United States, primarily due to Washington’s deeply ambiguous role in the Arab Spring. In addition to Washington’s lukewarm support for the ouster of some of their longtime allies, the events of the past few months have put in stark relief the growing gap between American policies and Arab aspirations. Recent polling shows that since the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, Arab public opinion of the United States is at an all-time low, and Washington’s inability to successfully influence events on the ground has been a highly indicative symptom of our nation’s growing regional irrelevance.

AAI Issue Brief on the Arab SpringAAI Issue Brief: Arab Spring







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