Top News

A year of protests in the Arab world


The first spark was in Tunisia when Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to his body in protest at the municipality's confiscation of his livelihood, which was a small vehicle selling vegetables and fruits, on December 17, 2010.

Popular movements followed in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen, and later in other Arab countries.

The results varied from country to country, as did the nature of the regime's reactions. Actors in the movements were frustrated.

But it wasn't long before another wave of movements in other Arab countries, Sudan and Algeria, was on the horizon.

Long before the third wave followed, in Iraq and Lebanon.


The year 2019 witnessed important political developments in many Arab countries, a summary of the most important.

Iraq: People Down Government

The beginning was social media calls. The number of respondents did not exceed hundreds, took to the streets in Baghdad and cities in the south on the first day of last October in protest against unemployment, corruption, and misery of public services.

Then the protests spread and the security forces used violence against them, and dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured.

The movement was temporarily suspended and protests resumed on 24 October.

The violence intensified and the protesters demanded the resignation of the government.

With more deaths and injuries, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned and was accepted by parliament on December 1, but remained head of a caretaker government.

More than 400 people have been killed in the two months of protests and thousands of wounded.

Lebanon: WhatsApp was the "straw"

Lebanon has been experiencing economic crises for some time now. Citizens have long suffered a "garbage crisis", with garbage disposal services almost paralyzed.

The economic situation has been in crisis for some time. The government's announcement of a tax on e-mails was "the straw that broke the camel's back."

Of course, the withdrawal of the WhatsApp tax return did not bring people back to their homes but remained on the streets after the spirit of protests spread to increasing numbers of people.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned on October 29, but people remained on the streets, asserting that their demands were not met by the replacement of faces as the regime remained.

The protesters demanded a government that did not follow the usual party structure that reflected the sectarian map.

The Lebanese protests were characterized by their light spirit, humor, singing and dancing, but they were not spared the backlash of some supporters of certain parties.

Sudan: Bread was the spark

After nearly 30 years of Omar al-Bashir's rule, the Sudanese people have been restlessly organized.

Protests erupted in December 2018 after tripling the price of bread.

In 2019, starting in April, protests centered in front of the army headquarters in Khartoum.

The arrest of Omar al-Bashir on April 11 did not stop the protests but called for a civilian government.

The response came on June 3, when gunmen attacked protesters in front of the army command, killing a number of protesters.

The movement continued despite the bloodshed, and eventually the protesters and the army command reached an agreement on August 17 to form a joint council overseeing the transition to civilian rule and democratic elections in 2022.

As in Iraq as well as in Sudan, the protesters paid their blood for the change they demanded, with at least 250 dead.

Algeria: "Bottom Steps"

In Algeria, too, there was a spark that ignited the protests, with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika expressing a desire to run for president again, after remaining at the top of the pyramid for twenty years.

On February 22, thousands took to the streets of several cities in protest.

As in Sudan, Bouteflika left the scene, with the difference that he remained at large, but this was less than the ambition of the protesters who waved the slogan "stepping down", which is similar to the Lebanese slogan "Klan means Klan", and the movement of protests continued with the participation of a large number of those demanding restructuring Political system, the resignation of leading figures.

The interim authorities, with the support of army chief Ahmed Qaid Saleh, tried to persuade protesters to agree to hold elections on December 12, but the opposition refused, requiring the departure of the current authority before the elections.

Egypt: Movement and Arrests

On September 20, while President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was attending UN General Assembly meetings, Cairo and other cities witnessed protests calling for his departure.

Previously, the contractor, Mohamed Ali, who had a good relationship with the regime but turned against him, was attacked in a live social media broadcast from his place of residence in Spain.

Harak drew arrests of a large number of activists estimated by human rights organizations to 2,000 people.

Security forces have stepped up their presence around Tahrir Square, the center of protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.