Institutional Change & Identity: Unexpected Impact of the Arab Spring

Down with the Dictators | Courtesy of www.sanzagiri.com

December of 2010 saw what would become a massive wave of demands for change throughout the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) area. Governments were toppled, armies took over, and civil wars broke out. This paper looks at Morocco, Libya, and Tunisia. All three countries are members of the 22 country Arab League and are three of the five states in the Maghreb. The Maghreb, a pre-modern Arabic term for North Africa, and an economic organization composed of five countries which was organized to help integrate economic and political characteristics of the five countries.1 The largest population lives in Morocco and is estimated 34 million as of July 2018, of which approximately 40% of the population is Berber.2 Next, is Tunisia with its estimated population in July 2018 around 11 million, which consists of 98% Arab, 1% European, and 1% Jewish and other. Libya is the smallest with only 6 million as of July 2018, where Berbers and Arabs were said to make up 97% and the others 3% include Greeks, Malteses, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, and Tunisians. Muslims make up 96.6% and Christians 2.7%. Morocco and Tunisia have a similar religious make up, which is 99% of the population being Muslim and the other 1% are Christian, Jewish, Shia Muslim, and Baha’i.

The reason for the examination of these three countries is due to their uniqueness. During the Arab Spring, Morocco was one of the only countries not to undergo regime change, Libya was the only country to face NATO interference, and Tunisia marked the actual beginning when Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest government oppression and the lack of economic opportunity in December of 2010. Since the overthrow of former President Ben Ali in January 2011, Tunisia has had multiple elections, and even one upcoming in 2019, that have been more successful than in the other countries. The difference in how Tunisia reacted to the Arab Spring versus Morocco and Libya is often attributed to its highly educated population (even if it does not fully explain the difference with Libya). According to the Human Development Report, in 2011, 34% of the population, both male and female, 25 years of age and up, had some secondary education in Tunisia, 21.9% in Morocco and Libya 58% had some secondary education.3 Education in Libya is high due partly to the fact that education was free and compulsory for the first nine years in 2011.4

The impact of the Arab Spring in Libya is very different from the outcomes in Tunisia and in Morocco because Libya has since dissolved into what many consider a “failed-state.” After the 2011 uprising and overthrow of the authoritarian regime, the country held democratic elections in 2011 and 2014, but after the 2014 elections, Libya dissolved into a civil war and is now working with the United Nations in an attempt to forge an agreement between competing parties to bring some form of peace. Morocco had a very different experience within the context of the Arab Spring, the main protest group under the banner of the February 20th Movement had more cohesion and strove only for more openness from the current regime. In Libya and Tunisia, people called for regime change. Moroccan people did not ask for their King to step down, only for some democratic reforms, which King Mohammad of Morocco partly agreed to follow as he demonstrated with the 2011 constitutional reform.

This article examines how governments have addressed people’s demands for change. Then, it assesses how these changes have impacted the identities of people in these three North African countries. Questions include how did governments adapt or resist against demands for change, how has the Arab Spring of 2011 affected Berber people, and whether identities were transformed through the conflict? These questions help understand the extent to which the differences between these three states led to different demands during the Arab spring and to diverging paths since.

I: Governmental Responses to Demands for Change

Mohamed Bouazizi | Courtesy of Middle East Monitor

The self inflicted death of Muhamad Bouazizi in Tunisia sparked a revolution that spread throughout MENA. On December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi was selling fruit from his cart when a policewoman stopped him and confiscated his cart and produce, despite the Office for Employment and Independent Work not requiring a permit to sell fruit from a cart. What happened during the altercation is contested, some believed that the policewoman slapped Bouazizi others that she threw his cart across the street. Hours later, Bouazizi, standing in front of the governor’s office, shouted “How do you expect me to make a living?” and then set himself on fire.5 Bouazizi’s act of self-immolation burned away the fears of government repression and violence and sparked mass protests for better economic and employment opportunities. Aside from thousands of protestors, lawyers took to the streets and the Chairman of the National Bar Association declared that lawyers were on strike after the torture of lawyers who had been arrested for taking part in earlier protests.6 Approximately three weeks after protests began, President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown and fled to Saudi Arabia, where there is no extradition agreement with Tunisia, and where he still remains today.  After Ben Ali fled, Ghanouchi took the place of Prime Minister, but resigned in February due to continued protests over any members of Ben Ali’s Constitutional Democratic Rally’s (RDC) involvement in the new government. The National Constituent Assembly (NCA) filled the Prime Minister’s place, formed a new government, and declared that political parties were no longer outlawed. The NCA announced elections would take place, as early as July 2011. elections were later postponed to October to allow for more time to properly set up the elections.7 The elections resulted in the Islamist party, Ennahdha, winning 89 seats and the rest won by Congress for the Republic (CPR) and Ettakatol. These first elections set the Parliament to run the country, the Prime Minister, in this case political party Ennahda’s Hamadi Jebali, was the most powerful. The President’s position was won by the political party CPR, who elected Moncef Marzouki, and Ettakatol’s Mustapha Ben Jaafar led the assembly.8 On February 6th, 2013, the first political assignation since the elections took place and member of the Patriots Party Chokri Belaid was murdered.9 It is suspected that the political party Ennahda had ordered the assassination, but the head of the party denied this. In response to the assassinations, Prime Minister Jebali proposed a council run by technocrats, but this proposal did not succeed and so Prime Minister Jebali resigned.10

In 2014, the National Constitution Committee in Tunisia released the constitution that was approved with 200 to 12 votes.11 This new constitution included many changes and added 71 articles. Because youth in Tunisia had been such a powerful driving force of the protests, they managed to get the voting age decreased from 22 to 18.12 Furthermore, the 2014 constitution determined that “Education shall be mandatory up to the age of sixteen years.13” Changing the voting age was a very powerful way to force the country to provide representation of a very large segment of the population. This was quite a victory for the politics of representation and for the technologically savvy youths who had help to channel the anger of the older generations through new means to lead to mostly peaceful change. However, for Libya, change brought no peace.

In 2014, the second set of elections was held in Libya, bringing an almost complete power change. The political party Nidaa Tounes won 85 seats and the leader of the party, Beji Caid Essebsi, was elected President and while Ennahda only won 69 seats. President Essebsi still holds the position of President, though many worry whether this is a return to the Gadhafi era, as President Essebsi previously worked as Gadhafi’s Foreign Minister in the 1980’s then as Parliament Speaker in the early 1990’s. Presidential elections are supposed to be held in the first half of 2019.14 Removing Gadhafi proved much hard than anticipated.

While the two paths that Libya and Tunisia took vary dramatically, they had a similar result in that eventually both governments were overthrown and a new one established via elections. This is where their similarities end, however. Libya has only ever had one king, King Idris, in 1951 when Libya gained its independence from Italy. Gadhafi overthrew King Idris in 1969, abolished the constitution and ran the country with his “Green Book” which was his philosophy on laws that should be followed. In the “Green Book,” Gadhafi specifically mentions constitutions on page 27, stating “Constitutions cannot be considered the law of society. A constitution is fundamentally a (man-made) positive law and lacks the natural source from which it must derive its justification.15” Furthermore, he discusses his view on political parties which is that they are created to “to rule over non-members of the party” in order to gain more power.16

Gadhafi Squeezed by Resistance | Courtesy of Reuters

On February 15th of 2011 the now eight-year old political struggle started when protesters demanded more freedoms and better economic opportunities. Ten days after the protests started, the National Transitional Council (NTC), a group of “high profile individuals,” met in the city of Bayda.17 Mustafa Abdual Jalil, former Justice Minister, became Chair of the NTC. On March 5th, 2011, the NTC announced that it was the “sole representative of all Libya.18” Eleven days later, on February 26th, 2011, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed Resolution 1970 that placed and arms embargoes, and travel bans. UNSC also froze the assets of individuals listed in an effort to stop the conflict and violence against civilians.19 The next resolution came out March 17th and established a no-fly zone, strengthened the arms embargo, allowed for measures to protect citizens, and established a panel of experts to report to the council and offer advice on the situation.20 Following this resolution, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies began intervention to protect citizens. This operation was called Operation Unified Protector (OUP). OUP had three main goals while in Libya: enforce the arms embargo, enforce the no-fly zone, and “[conduct] air and naval strikes against military forces involved in attacks or threatening to attack Libyan civilians and civilian populated areas.21” In September 2011, the UN Security Council passed resolution 2009, which changed terms of the arms embargo, unfroze some Libyan assets, and established the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).22 From then until October 31st, 2011, NATO remained in Libya, conducting air strikes on military bases and delivering humanitarian needs to civilians. The end of Gadhafi would come soon.

In October of 2011, after approximately eight months of the intervention under the helm of NATO, and 10,000 deaths, Gadhafi was overthrown by the NTC, who then established the Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA).23 Initially, the CDA was going to be comprised of members that the NTC chose, but after protests, NTC amended the law to read that members would be determined by voters. It was also determined that each of the three regions, Fezzan, Cyrenaica, and Tripolitania, would be represented.24 The CDA published a constitutional draft based on the 1951 constitution, though there were amendments made, such as Article 30 which set parameters and responsibilities for the NTC.  The NTC led for an interim period during which some smaller scale protests took place. On January 4th, 2012, the ban on political parties was lifted and in July of 2012, the General National Congress (GNC) held elections, where 62% of the population turn out to vote. 25 The GNC was dominated by the National Forces Alliance (NFA) who won the plurality of the seats with 39%. The Muslim Brotherhoods’ Justice and Construction Party (PCJ) won 17% and the rest of the seats were won by smaller parties and independents.26

Differing from Tunisia, the Libyan elections were not as peaceful, as multiple voting booths across the state had to be shut down from protesters and violence. Voters and candidates were under threat for the 2014 election because of differences in ideologies of how the government should be run. In 2014, these differences came to a head briefly after the elections and another civil war broke out. A key event that spurred more turmoil was the 2012 attack in Bengasi, where four American officials were killed, including J. Christopher Stevens, the ambassador. This attack was orchestrated by a number of terrorists’ groups.27 Furthermore, the security sector in Libya was spread between multiple armed groups, some of which get their arms from across the border. Two main armed groups are the Libyan Shield Force (LSF) and the Supreme Security Committee (SSC) which are led respectively by the chief of staff and the Interior Ministry, but both groups function more or less autonomously, with political gains in mind.28 The SSC was formed as a policing unit while the LSF was a reserve army.29 In May 2013, these two groups pushed for the passage of the political isolation law which prevented officials from the Gadhafi-era to run for elected positions, though this was repealed in 2015. Part of the reason so many armed groups other than the military were able to rise up was because Gadhafi severely limited the military’s function, cutting funding, support, training and equipment.30 This prevented a military coup against him but also fostered the rise of para-military and rebel groups.

While the Supreme Security Committee (SSC) and Libyan Shield Force (LSF) were pushing for the Political Isolation Law, the General National Congress (GNC) was splitting between two groups who supported versus those against this law. The National Force Alliance (NFA) had a less stringent view, while the Justice and Construction Party had hard lines. Despite this split, elections to form the House of Representatives went ahead with candidates running as independents. However, coalitions formed, linked to the NFA, who established the House of Representatives. This political divide allowed General Haftar to launch Operation Dignity against the Islamists while Islamists launched the Libyan Dawn in response escalating the conflict further.31

When the Libya Dawn mission and Operation Dignity clashed at Tripoli International Airport, Libya Dawn soldiers beat General Haftar and took control of Tripoli. The Elected House of Representatives, Prime Minister Adbullah al-Thinni, and his cabinet fled to Tobruk, where they set up offices and remain the internationally recognized power by the European Union, the United States, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. In Tripoli, the Libya Dawn enacted their own government under a new General National Congress.32

However, in December 2015, the United Nations was able to broker a peace deal, the Libyan political Agreement (LPA), between both rival governments that led to the creation of the Government of National Accord run by a nine-person Presidency Council.33 The Presidency Council was allowed two years of executive authority or until a constitution was drafted, which happened in 2016.34 The House of Representatives (House) would remain the only legislative authority in Libya, while the GNC would form a State Council to advise the newly formed Government of National Accord (GNA). The Presidency Council would have the power to appoint the head of the military who was General Haftar, and the House opposed this because they feared it would limit their own authority. However, the House had yet to ratify this new government since voting was delayed by the failure to produce the required number of members to convene a session until late August 2016. Even once the House convened, the Government of National Accord was rejected because of the magnitude of the involvement that the Libyan Dawn would have. Further crippling the Government, a group led by former prime minster of the Libyan Dawn took control of the State Council and reclaimed executive authority from the it.35

Moroccan Protests | Courtesy of Muftah

As previously mentioned, in Morocco, protesters did not demand that King Mohammad step down.36 This is because of the idea of the “Holy Trinity” which consists of the inseparable concept of “God, King, and Country.” The king is seen as a direct descendant from the Prophet of Islam. King Mohammad VI foresaw calls for reform. He seemed to know something like the Arab Spring would happen and he started making changes to the constitution and laws years before. For example, in 2003, he passed a law- Mudawwana– which made it illegal for women to be abused by a male and for divorce to be unilateral. A few years prior, the Equity and Reconciliation Commission opened case files filled with stories of torture from King Hassan II reign. Once the protests happened though, King Mohammad VI, in response to the February 20th Movement, proposed a constitution referendum to be held in July 2011.37

Demands from the people included recognition of the Berber language, equal rights, and more employment opportunities, which was primarily demanded by youth.38 The discussion of whether to remain an Islamic state also arose during the protests. The constitution included an increase in articles, from 108 to 180. As per the people’s demands, the King redistributed his power to the Prime Minister in several ways. In November 2011, the first elections were held and Abdelilah Benkirane, leader of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) won majority. This is one of the first times that an Islamist party had control. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) won 107 seats, which was 61 more than the 2007 elections. There was also a new quota created that designated 60 seats from women and 30 seats for men under 30. Prime Minister Benkirane can appoint government ministers and has to ability to dissolve the parliament, which was previously a power only for the King.  Although the Prime Minister receive many powers, the King still has the sole ability to call on the cabinet to convene and, thus, has a veto power. Despite these constitutional changes and allocations of power, the King has bypassed former Prime Minister Benkirane to approve the arrest of 130 allegedly corrupt customs officers in the Tangier Port.39 Benkirane argued that the power to give orders to other ministers was not within the King’s rights and rests with the current Prime Minister.40

In 2016, a protest movement yet again arose in response to a death. Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death in a garbage truck when he was attempting to retrieve the swordfish he caught. Police had confiscated the fish because it was the wrong time of year to catch swordfish. It was speculated that the officers ordered the garbage truck to start compacting the trash, which resulted in Fikri’s death. This happened in Al Hoceima, a primarily Berber speaking town. From Fikri’s death, the Hirak Protest Movement was formed by Nasser Zefzaf. The Hirak Movement has been more liberal in terms of women’s involvement, as the second in command is a mother of four named Nawale Ben Aissa.41 Women did take part int he Arab Spring but rarely rose to position of power.

II: Impact of Arab Spring on Berbers

Moroccan Berbers | Courtesy of BBC

Berbers are a primary focus because they are the indigenous peoples of North Africa who predate the Arabs invasions by several millennia. Since independence, the case of the Berbers is much like the case of most minorities: minimal rights when any. King Hassan II, King Muhamad’s father, made a step recognizing the Berber language as something that should be taught in schools, though that has not happened.42 However, after 2011 uprisings, Berber was recognized as an official language in article 5, which states “Likewise, Tamazight [Berber/amazighe] constitutes an official language of the State, being common patrimony of all Moroccans without exception.” Furthermore, the preamble of the constitution was amended to include “Its unity, is forged by the convergence of its Arab-Islamist, Berber and Saharan-Hassanic components, nourished and enriched by its African, Andalusian, Hebraic and Mediterranean influences.43

Only 1-2% of the population of Tunisia claims to be purely Berber. Success for the Berber people in Tunisia includes the creation of the Tunisian Association for Amazigh Culture in July of 2011, the appointment of a Tunisian Amazigh to the federal Council, and the inclusion of some Berber films at a film festival in Nebeul.44 There is no mention of Berbers in the Tunisian Constitution.

Berber Children in Libya | Courtesy of Middle East Monitor

In Libya, Berbers makes up about 8-9% of the population.45 When the General National Congress held elections in 2012, the Amazigh, or Berbers, boycotted the elections on the basis that there was not enough representation of minorities in the council. To combat this issue, the GNC allotted 6 seats for women and two seats for each Amazigh, Tuareg, and Tebu. While the Tuareg and Tebu took their two seats, Amazigh continued  boycotting through 2014 elections.46 In Article 1 of the 2011 constitution, the government of Libya recognizes that “Arabic shall be the official language, while the linguistic and cultural rights of the Amazigh, the Tebu, the Tuareg as well as other components of Libyan society, the government shall guarantee.47”  Though this has changed through the 2016 constitution, it fails to mention any minorities by name but does say that languages spoken by the people are a national language. Again, the language of the constitution was changed in the 2017 constitution to read: “The languages spoken by the Libyans or part of them, including Arabic, Amazigh, Tuareg, or Tebu are considered a cultural and linguistic heritage…The state shall guarantee taking the necessary measures to protect them, preserve their originality and develop their teaching to and usage by those who speak them.48

In 2014, the first Libyan Berber, Nouri Abusahmain, was elected into the Libya’s National General Congress, which was the government that overthrew the House. Abusahmain called on the LSF to defend the government that took control in Tripoli.49 This has led to much controversy regarding his position and beliefs.50 Nouri Abusahmain has been sanctioned by the European union, along with two others, for his actions regarding the attempted peace deal. Further adding to the controversy, in 2016, he rejected the Libyan political Agreement in a discussion with the United Nations.

III: Impact of Arab Spring on Identity.

Identities transform when faced with hard decisions and hard situations. First and foremost, the biggest factor that affects individual lives and identity is death. While death can no longer affect the person who died, his or her death can forever alter the lives of every individual connected. People who lost wives, mothers, sisters, husbands, fathers, brothers, and children, often seek to create a legacy so their death is not in vain. From what is considered the first death of the Arab spring, Mohamed Bouazizi, to the death of Gadhafi, to the people’s who’s names we do not know, these lost lives set in motion many transformations. This can be highlighted in a first-person account of a young woman in Tunisia. This woman was Ahlem Yazidi, who lost her cousin in a protest outside her home. She had been in the capital just days before preparing to join the protests. Turned away by an undercover policeman, she eventually returned close to her hometown, where she met with her cousin, Wael. A few days later, he participated in what was supposed to be a peaceful protest and instead sat “lying motionless on the ground with a bullet in his chest” after police opened fire.51 She then speaks about how her cousin’s death was a great sadness to her, but despite that she was “proud of him and his courage.”52 She says that people accused them of losing their identity, but she believes that they lived up to being what a Tunisian meant: “heroic people, willing to sacrifice everything for the pursuit of freedom and dignity.53

A young man named Abdulmonem Allieby from Libya spoke about his feelings for the protests and how he responded to them saying, “imagine a person oppressed, beaten, and humiliated for decades and when he finally speaks, he still feels strangled. While slowly awaiting death, the oppressor is momentarily disoriented and releases his grip. Knowing that this is absolutely your last and only chance at survival, what would you do? In my case, I fought.54” Many others expressed similar feelings. They found themselves in the Arab Spring and realized what they were on this earth for: to fight for change and equality.

Social Media | Courtesy of BokBluster

Social media democratized power in  away never seen before the Arab Spring and opened new avenues for validating and showcasing identity. The platforms that exist allow people to express how they feel and who they are, providing a voice to those with diverse identities previously obfuscated. Social media allowed for change to occur by education and bringing awareness of the protests while they were happening. News of events were shared, protests were organized, and people found their voice, sharing their opinions and stories. Social media had a major impact on the women’s movement in these three countries. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. allowed women to post their faces along with their messages, “unfazed by the possibility of getting arrested,” allowing them to decide how to define themselves and be seen.55 Sexual assault typically results in the shame and humiliation of the victim by the family, thus, those assaulted rarely speak out against crimes committed against them. However, with social media, there has been a movement of women who have been sexually assaulted and record their story to publish on social media platforms, refusing to be shamed into silence.56

In Morocco, the 20 February Movement was comprised of mainly youth seeking better employment opportunities but also labor unions, Berbers, women, and some political parties. The 20 February Movement used social media to inform their community and the world of their mission and demands, as well as live stream protests. Videos were recorded and uploaded of protesters that were beaten by police and forced into what the government hoped would be silence.57 The King in Morocco has the primary power over state controlled media and can appoint the heads of public radio and television stations. After the 2011 elections and Prime Minister Benkiran’s elections, speeches addressed to the public were spread much faster because of how quickly they were shared over social media. Recognizing the importance of social media, the ministry of communication held a public hearing with over 500 representatives invited from over 250 E-News outlets.58 Further exacerbating the media problems was the fact that many journalists were shut out, their stories, buried, when they touched on certain subjects like criticizing the King, government, or Islam. Many journalists were also arrested. Another setback was that many businesses were tied to the crown and were payed to only show certain advertisements.59

Tweet about the Tunisian Revolution | Courtesy of Ventures in Cyberland

In Tunisia, social media played a critical role. From the very beginning, videos were uploaded to Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.60 When Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire, the video was posted immediately to Twitter and people responded by organizing protests, demanding that President Ben Ali step down and that there be democratic elections, for better economic opportunity, specifically for the youth. Through the sharing of videos new channels like Al-Jazeera were able to spread the news of what was happening on the ground in real time. Although Al-Jazeera was banned, it is a satellite station and it is estimated that about half of the population with access to television connects to international satellite networks, like Al-Jazeera. Much like in Morocco, the press and news channels are controlled by the government and only show content approved by the government.61

Social media was not as widely used in Libya as it was in Tunisia, but it still allowed people to view news articles from Al-Jazeera and other news sources. In 1996 Libya, 1,200 political prisoners were killed in Abu Salim prison and every year since, mothers and families march to remember them. On February 15, 2011, families of the Abu Salim victims marched in Benghazi, with many other protesters who joined in. During the protests, lawyer Fathi Terbal who represented the families of the victims, was arrested. Two days later, the Day of Rage was announced on Facebook in response.62

Aside from those residing within the countries, social media provided a window for those outside of North Africa, specifically students studying abroad. A Fulbright student was studying in Pennsylvania when protests broke out in Tunisia. In January of 2011, the student stated that he “was connected to [his] computer twenty-four hours a day” to stay connected to his friends and family in Tunisia, as well as staying up to date on events happening.63 He used Facebook to share news articles, some of which he was able to confirm as true because of the ability that social media gave him to contact those in Tunisia and confirm whether that news article was accurately reporting the events. He believed that “the revolution was all about media.64 On multiple occasions, his activity on social media gave him access to being a keynote speaker at his university and other places to share his knowledge and opinions of the events. However, he does not believe that all social media was positive, because it allowed people to express their views and opinions more easily. While this was a positive thing, it caused conflict between people. He provides the example of his brother and his best friend that fought over their beliefs of the government because of such high tensions. Comments can be made when emotions are running high that are less than peaceful and create conflict.65

Outside of social media, identity was transformed through the experiences of the Tebu and Tuareg peoples, specifically in Libya.66 Gadhafi stripped the Tebu of their citizenship by declaring that all those with IDs issued in Aouzou, a region that the Tebu were previously forced to relocate to, would be considered a foreigner in the 1996 Decree. This made it incredibly difficult to acquire official papers. Because of this institutional barrier, many were unable to receive the proper health care and education, which led to a very high illiteracy rate and rapid spread of illnesses. Therefore, the majority of the Tebu sided with the protesters against Gadhafi, demanding citizenship and other basic human rights in the 2011 protests. Since 2011, the government passed a law that nullifies the 1996 Decree, though it has been harder to implement in smaller villages where the Tebu population is small. When the House of Representatives that fled to Tobruk in the 2014 civil war, Tebu peoples again sided with them. The villages that the Tebu lived in were controlled by them and therefore gave them a more serious role in politics and their own economy.67

The Tuareg peoples have a slightly different story, as they first sided with Gadhafi and then supported the government based in Tripoli.68 In the 1970’s, Gadhafi recruited Tuareg fighters to join the military, making promises of equality. In 2004, he created a section of the military called the Maghawir Brigade, made entirely of Tuareg peoples.  Despite their association with Gadhafi in joining the military, no promises were kept and the villages where Tuareg peoples mostly lived remained impoverished and the people disenfranchised. However, inside of the Tuareg community, there is conflict over whether it is the right decision to back the government in Tripoli as opposed to the one in Tobruk. Many Tuareg argue that the Tripoli government will continue to oppress them. Those who were in the Maghawir Brigade defected and went on to the form the Ténéré Brigade in 2011. Further, the relations between the Tuaregs born in Libya versus those born in the surrounding states fuels the conflict further because of economic and political differences. 69

Conclusion:

In the words of Ahlem Yazidi “[Tunisia] demonstrated to the whole world that the greatness of a nation resides not just in economic, political or demographic power, but also in its strong will.70” The revolts of the 2011 Arab Spring in Tunisia, Morocco, and Libya have forever altered the countries and the region’s history and brought a higher level of recognition for ethnic groups previously subsumed, fostered by the ubiquity of social media and its power to promote identity claims. People will not rest until they see a government in charge that sees and accomplishes the changes that they want and need in order to have more access to jobs and more equality. The Arab Spring set in motion many different kinds of transformations that continue to develop still today.

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29 Comments

  • great story, and it is nice to remember Mohamed Bouazizi who begun all this arab spring which take many of the dictators down after they let their people suffer of economic problems because they stolr the country and no one can charge them for what they did, lets not forget that middle east still has many dictators which their turn will come soon. it is amazing to see the power in people hands instead of sick regime like all Arab countries regime. when people decided to have their rights they were part of the huge revolution that looks like the judgement day came for these dictators

  • I absolutely adore the third image that was placed in this article as it showcased beautiful art and how a huge topics such as this can make such beautiful contributions to the world. Not only was art gained from this but a lot of information was brought forward in this article. The author of this article is without a doubt good at what she does and maintained my interest in the topic while reading it. The statistics written in the article were very helpful to understand and keep up with the information being provided. Morocco is not a place that I typically learn about as well as Libya and Tunisia and therefore I am grateful to the author for bringing forth this information. Livia being a failed state is probably one of the fax that I can talk about it later discussions and the population of Arabs is definitely also worth knowing.

  • Congratulations on your nomination! It is definitely well deserved due to all of the sources that were utilized to make it one of the best articles on the site! Additionally, I love the uniqueness in writing. Although a bit lengthy, this article highlights the changes that can take place in countries such as these. I think that a really big takeaway from this article is that in order for governments to undergo change, the people themselves must work together to find a government that can work peacefully.

  • Great article! This story was very well-written. I have read about Arab Spring and the role that Mohamed Bouazizi had in taking the revolution to a whole different level. Although I do not condone what Bouazizi did, I think his action should help people to understand how desperate the people were for justice. Going to dangerous extremes for minimal, basic rights is something a lot of us will never understand. I am glad that you told his story and acknowledged those who got caught in the cross-fire during Arab Spring.

  • This article is very informative because it shows the thought process of many and the steps taken towards a revolution. It was surprising to see the people in power and those in support held the idea of the holy trinity and applied it to the political world. In the U.S., church and state have always been separate and there is a lot less political activism. In other areas of the world, I see there have been historical uprisings and commoners step up to the plate to become leaders in their community. Powerful and very informing article!

  • This article is incredibly well researched and does a great job of breaking down the complexities of identity that took place during the Arab Spring in Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya. It is incredible the amount of change that can begin to take place from one individual’s actions, as is the case with Mohamed Bouazizi. The utilization of social media highlighted showcases one of the ways that it can be used for real change.

  • This article is amazing and the research is even better. Reading this article was very informative and I learn a good amount of information about Morocco, Tunisia and Libya while readin this article. I really like the stucture you used it’s really differenet from the articles I mainly read which is a good thing. It was well-written and really deserves an award, good job.

  • I can see why this article was nominated for an award because you can really tell how much research just went into the making of this article. This is probably the most I have ever learned about Morocco in my entire life. I also know pretty much nothing about middle eastern history so this article did a very good job at showing me a good amount of that which I appreciate.

  • Just… Wow. Reading your article, I can definitely see how you were nominated for “Best Overall Research”. You are most definitely a true scholar, and I can’t even imagine the amount of work you must have invested in writing this article! I suppose I’ve never thought of the implications of the Arab Spring in North Africa, especially Morocco, since it’s such a peaceful and tolerant nation in the present day. Fantastic work!

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