Why the Arab Spring Failed, and the Hopes Its Failure Seeded

Despite many real disappointments, the turmoil of the past decade has also revealed signs of promise in the Middle East.

An anti-Muslim Brotherhood protester on April 19, 2013 at clashes near Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo between supporters of the regime of then-president Mohammad Morsi and those in opposition. Getty.

An anti-Muslim Brotherhood protester on April 19, 2013 at clashes near Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo between supporters of the regime of then-president Mohammad Morsi and those in opposition. Getty.

Hussein Aboubakr
Observation
July 15 2021
About the author

Hussein Aboubakr is an Egyptian American educator and a former political refugee. He works for EMET, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, and is an educator for StandWithUs. He is also a graduate student in international affairs at George Washington University.

“In 2021,” wrote Marc Lynch, the American political scientist who gave the Arab Spring its name, “there may be few beliefs more universally shared than that the Arab uprisings failed.” His statement sums up the conventional wisdom of observers in the West. And as someone who was not only present in Egypt during the uprising, but was among the throngs of young people in Cairo’s Tahrir square demanding change, I can hardly say that I look back on those days with anything but disappointment. Nor do the stories of other Arab lands caught up in the wave of revolutions invite more optimism. But simply to see the Arab Spring as having given way to an “Arab Winter” is to miss something crucial about what has happened to the Middle East over the past ten years.

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More about: Arab Spring, Egypt, Politics & Current Affairs