Arab Spring

Gilbert Achcar, a socialist writer who has long followed the Arab world, says the current Tunisian revolt, with protests against spending cuts and austerity breaking out across the country this month, was a “foreseeable” continuation of the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.

Archar spoke to Calian Mace and Hala Kodmani in a January 14 interview first published in French daily Liberation. The version below is reprinted from International Viewpoint.

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Anti-government protests in Bahrain, 2011.

Sectarian Gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia & the Arab Spring That Wasn’t
Toby Matthiesen
Stanford University Press, 2013

In 2011, when a wave of protest and rebellion swept the Arab world, the monarchical states making up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were not exempt from the unrest.

The United States is providing crucial support to regional ally Saudi Arabia ― a big buyer of US arms ― as it launches a new war in the Middle East by attacking neighbouring Yemen.

A Saudi-led coalition of Western-aligned, mainly Sunni Islamist, Arab government's launched air, naval and ground military offensive against Yemen on March 25.

Saudi Arabian forces are being supported by military planes from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Egypt, which is also supplying naval forces.

In the more than four years since mass uprisings ousted dictatorial regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, it can seem that the initial hopes represented by these mass movements lie in tatters.

Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq remain mired in bloody armed conflicts that have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more within and across borders.

In the pivotal case of Egypt, military rule has returned through the violent crushing of protests, the arrests of an estimated 40,000 people and the rebuilding of the repressive structures of the Hosni Mubarak era.

Abdel Jabbar Madouri has been a militant in Tunisia from his early secondary school days. He was jailed three times (in 1987, 1993 and 2002) because of his political activism. After every arrest, he was tortured, then sentenced to more than 12 years in jail.

Madouri spent four years living underground during the Ben Ali regime, which was overthrown in January last year -- sparking the “Arab Spring”. He was also deprived of the right to work or to obtain a passport.

Almost a year since Tunisia's Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, Islamist party Ennahda, leader of the coalition government, continues to lose the confidence of those who rose up against dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in late 2010.

Anger was prompted by Constitutional Article 27, which was passed by the Committee on Rights and Freedoms on August 1, defining women's rights as "complementary" to those of men, placing women "at the heart of the family and as man's associate".

After an armed attack killed 16 Egyptian guards on the border with Israel in the Sinai Peninsula, President Mohammed Morsi sacked defence minister and head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) Mohammed Tantawi, and his second in command, Sami Anan.

The move is part of an ongoing battle that has taken place between the Muslim Brotherhood — main political force that emerged after the overthrow of former dictator Hosni Mubarak — and SCAF, which took governmental power after Mubarak stepped down.

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