Analyzing the Arab Spring Uprisings in the Middle

The Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) were characterised by spontaneity and rapidity, and also by the absence of identifiable revolutionary leaders and by a deficiency of ideology (Rene Laremont, 2014, p.8). So what was striking about the Arab revolutions was mass demonstrations and infectious quality that created a wave of revolutions in the MENA region (ibid). The change of regime myth passed via regimes changes, a, p. Largely unrecognised development.11 the Arab Spring terminology is key in understanding and imagining of historical occurrences, the uncontested debated in this chapter is the discussion of the discourse of the revolution and its related terms on the events of the Arab uprisings.13


In this case, Fred Halliday who was a political theorist while cited the work of (Billie Jeanne Brownlee & Maziyar Ghiabi, 2016, p301) claimed that revolution definitions are similar to all social science and conventional definitions. Studies also reveal that there are occurrences where human subjects groups based on criteria of significance as well as recurrence, into one category rather than another.14

Often terminologies are not selected randomly or are they insignificant methodologically. The terminology, “pari passu” with theory, allows the expression of phenomena and ideas far beyond the limited field of research.15

It develops, therefore, a scholarship, lacking terminology, is very challenging, if not impossible to configure. Moreover, it is also difficult to use it as a reference. Walter Benjamin suggests that language does not only entails the communication of information but also it is a symbol of things which cannot be communicated.16 cited in (ibid p., 302)

The discourse of the revolution in Arab uprising has been referred to as ‘revolutions’ or ‘spring’ or from the start. As per the European thinking, revolutions are sudden and radical changes in (ibid 302-303) the "existing state of an affair" which is developed from the impact of achieving a world upside-down, an "action de bouleverser” as per the French version. This version is specular to the “existing state of affair” ante hence meaning it is predictable (ibid). The notion that revolution is a radical change in history is created from the fact that modern concept, are similar and dates back to the revolutions witnessed in American and French in the nineteenth century. Before the occurrence of these revolutions, revolutions were not termed as a radical transformation. Simply, it was seen as a coup d’état or a mare rebellion which were not necessarily meant to the meaning and intensity of revolution.17

Though the discourse of the 19th-century revolution took new different dimensions after the occurrences, ‘revolution’ was a term used to refer to the idea of ‘restoration,’ to the form of government, bad or good fate and reoccurrence of stages in life. From this definition, the ideas are suspected to have originally referred to the government cycles which periodically occurs in human history. Currently, the definition is utilised to refer to changes which are structural from the past. Moreover, the term and the idea of revolution has been made semantically void due to its adoption in media camping and advertisement as well as by politicians who often call for reforms and changes (Billie Jeanne Brownlee & Maziyar Ghiabi, 2016, p303).

The MENA region has for sometimes witnessed ‘revolutions’ which are seen as opposition and mobilization moments at a heightened level. Therefore, we can conclude these occurrences as ‘revolutions,’ more so, when the citizens become successful in toppling dictatorial and oppressive leaders 20. As per Hannah Arendt, most revolutions are critical expressions of starting something new and taking action. Representing ‘the determination to take action, [the] there is an assurance of changing things by individual’s efforts.’21

According to Arendt, the paradigm of revolution would be successful in the Arab streets with elements such as joy, efforts and determination as per (Billie Jeanne Brownlee & Maziyar Ghiabi, 2016, p303).

While the revolutions in the past in European continent had two key factors, which included the rise of charismatic leaders and pre-existing political systems. For instance, the Libyan revolution which did not create radical transformations of reforms, and revolutionary leaders have not shown any reforms (Billie Jeanne Brownlee & Maziyar Ghiabi, 2016, p303). It can be argued that “revolution” may assist in detecting historical shifts in methods or configuration of power.’23

Uprisings just like resistance remains a narrative frame, which can be referenced by people who lived at the time revolution, both as experiencing witness and participants. Comparing the two occurrences, the only visible difference is the fact that resistance is omnipresent whether noticed or not while revolution is epochal and indicates a rupture24

In the case of the Arab revolution of Libya, it has toppled top leaders though, it has created and promoted military chaos and system, which is described as post-Gaddafi Libya (Brownlee & Ghiabi, 2016, p.303). Accordingly, the Arab revolutions of 2011 in MENA region "were the outcomes of random phenomena which, by virtue of fortune, developed and spread faster and widely (Brownlee & Ghiabi, 2016, p.303).

The discourse of ideological key "term ‘revolution’ has a several and varied set of meanings" (ibid, p. 304). Re-assessing the ideological key term of revolution as political terminology, this paper will show how revolution and its close ideological key terms such as uprising ouster of the regime, coup or a revolt are translated into Arabic .26

For instance, as per the current standard Arabic, the word thawra (which is derived from the term thāra: - revolt) is utilised to translate ‘revolution.’27

With the several meaning, insurrection, usually indicate a revolt notion rather than revolution (Gilbert Achcar, 2013, p. 14-15)

Indeed, it is another Arabic term used in the respective media outlet which is, inqilāb, which perfectly suit the meaning of 'coup/revolution,' which is an English word. Coup refers to the act of 'overturning,' or ‘bouleversement in French.’ Inqilāb is today utilised in Persian to translate the western revolution concept, both with its ideological and political importance. The word is used in Arabic to refer to a coup d’état. An individual can say that the western revolution concept bearing in mind that revolutions were invented in the West 29 as per Anderson (2006) and E. Hobsbawm and T. Ranger (2012).

Concerning the Arab world politicians, there have been many revolutions from the beginning as well as in the post-colonial era. The revolution which was against British colonial invasion in 1920 is recalled in the history books of Iraqi as well as throughout the Arab states as the ‘Iraqi revolution of the 1920’ (thawrat al-‘ashrīn). Regardless of all the definitions, the revolution unwrapped revealed the traditional anti-colonial revolutions, which gives the use of “revolution” further legitimacy. For instance coup d’état of 1958 which ousted Iraq’s Hashemite monarchy and which was formally referred to ‘the 1958 Revolution.’ Moreover, another example is Syria’s 1963 and Egypt’s 1952 free officers’ revolutions. Another example is the 1980 ‘corrective’ purges which was headed Hafiz al-Asad, and which came to be known as al-thawrat al-taḥsisiya, which in English means ‘the corrective revolution.’ Another example of an uprising is what Gaddafi usually referred to as the Green revolution of 1969. In this revolution, he was the leader. Nevertheless, uprisings are also narrative tools in which political agents give some phenomenological concern in light of the historical crisis, hence the word thawra, which refers to a ‘revolution as per the direct translation in the dictionary. However, as interpreted by Arabic speakers, the term is much more transformed and “corrupted” ideological in the Arab world; hence in the Arabic world, there is no much difference between a revolution and revolts. Therefore, this should be put to consideration while defining and the use of the terminology both in the global analysis and the local ecology "(Brownlee & Ghiabi, 2016, p.303).

The discourse of revolution as an ideological key term as in Asef Bayat who refers the non-movement as, "the collective activity of non- collective participants. This definition shares an ideology with the meaning of a large number of ordinary people who are divided though similar activities promote much social change, although these activities are rarely guided by ideology or are recognizable by leaders ".32

More significantly for the sake of this analysis, this paper translates the Libyan Arab Spring Uprising as a revolution, due to the collective people activities and large groups of people who were not concerned with the status quo post but the immediacy of the political action. In reality, the uprisings in the MENA region was majorly negative in its requests. The revolution created a popular concept against injustice and what was not acceptable. Additionally, in some Arab countries, the materialization of exasperations against the progressive made social-economic conditions even worse. This widened the gap between the elites (majorly the economic and political class) and the other citizens (Brownlee & Ghiabi, 2016, p. 306). So these revolts did not create any new or alternative approaches though it was meant to destabilize and dethrone some of the already established leaderships to gain economic security and dignity (ibid).

According to the Political philosopher Furio Jesi (2002, p. 19) cited in (Brownlee & Ghiabi, 2016, p. 306), the study explained the crucial difference between revolt and revolution:

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As per the study “revolt” [rivolta] is used to mean an insurrectional movement which varies greatly from the revolution. The variation in meaning between revolution and revolt does not exist in the goals of each other; however, the two terminologies might have similar objectives which is the seizing of leadership/power. In most cases, who differentiate the two terms is the variation of time and experience. For instance, as per the meaning of the two terms, revolt is an unexpectedly quick insurrectional outburst, which can be fitted into a strategic design, though does not indicate a strategy in the long run. On the other hand, revolution is usually a strategic complex of insurrectional movements. Therefore, we can conclude that revolt suspends the historical time and creates a time when everything which occurs has a value (…) hence, revolution is deliberate and wholly entrenched in the historical period.36 (Furio Jesi (2002, p. 19).

Accordingly, it is evident that, analytically, the ‘Arab Spring’ can be defined based on change and the paradigms of political mobilization. From the fact that "uprising" and revolution' overthrow dictatorship or result in a coup, therefore, these efforts had been unnoticed for decades until Arab Spring in 2011. Indeed, the fall of some authoritarian regimes in the region is an indication of the success of some major revolutions.

The political revolutions in MENA region in 2011, regardless of its impacts, broke the historical period where Arab states had been believed to be, both by global and national observers (Brownlee & Ghiabi, 2016, p. 306). It indicated the demand for freedom, social justice as well as their opposition to belittling of citizens into subjects of the calculus of economics (ibid).

The euphoria of the beginning of the Arab revolutions evaporated into disillusion, expressed through different ideological key terms and its interpretations, containing the aspect of failure felt and scepticism (ibid).

The translation of the movements in the Arab world and its politics is reflected in the use of the ideological, thematic choice use by the media and linguistic. The effective and common way is that of emphasizing the polarization of ingroup or out-group more specifically between ‘WE and THEM (the media outlets and their allies or opponents). To make it simple, revolutions are when demonstrators protest in the streets which is a simple mobilizing against oppressing leadership or crisis in the economy. It is argued that there are similarities between the western movement against capitalism and the local (Arab) capitalism. Both appear to contain elements of one global localized protesting community. Besides, both western and Arab demonstrators share an underlying language coherence of mobilization tactics, social ideals dissent as well as, and their similar repression mode (with differing intensity). Having a full understanding of the similar elements has the significance of framing the Arab Spring’ analysis. However, the uprising was not a legendary and exceptional event, it sheds analytical insight on the occurrence, the scope of the manifestation of the Western politics as well as potentially, on their genealogy (ibid).

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