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In each country, a different dynamic took place. Although each nation followed a similar pattern, different groups working together to take down the current regime, while working against each other at the same time to obtain power in the new government. In Tunisia, the protests erupted after a street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest of government corruption and lack of economic opportunity in Tunisia.

In Bahrain, a small island ruled by monarchy just off the coast of Saudi Arabia, protesters have closer affiliations with religious groups. Similar to Tunisia, the non-violent protests were met with force by the government, leading to increased resistance from the people. The demands in Bahrain were for equal rights for the Shia population of Bahrain, and the ouster of the ruling monarchy. Under Mubarak, Egypt had been cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood for years, realizing the political power they could wield against him.

However, the Brotherhood eventually took over the protests and were elected into power after the resignation of Mubarak. In Libya, protesters from many different political groups came together for the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Gad d afi. The main group was the National Transition Council NTC which took control of the temporary government during the battle. Perhaps the most notable conflict in the Arab Spring, the revolution to overthrow Bash a r Al-Assad from power, is still going on today.

New Media and the People-Powered Uprisings

After refusing to give up the cart of goods he was selling to police when they tried to confiscate it due to a lack of permit, police had a physical altercation with him. This resulted in Bouazizi taking the problem up the ranks to the governor. His reforms included terminating the lifetime position of the President, moving the country towards a liberal economy, and creating a social fund for the underprivileged. During this term Ben Ali moved to reinstall the no term limit presidency.

Hamad became Emir of Bahrain following the death of his father in Khaled had been beaten to death by Egyptian security forces during an interrogation. Ghonim himself was eventually captured by Egyptian security forces and later released. Today, he is a leading voice for social media activism and growing social media platforms for positive change. He was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic political party with ties to many Middle Eastern countries. A powerful figure, General Sisi led the military coup against Mohamed Morsi.

The economic situation in Yemen was bleak, with little opportunity for the large population of Yemeni youth. When Gaddafi ordered the military to target civilian protesters to end the rebellion, outside nations got involved. Multiple high ranking officers from the Libyan army began to break from the regime and join the rebels, eventually capturing and killing Gaddafi in his hometown of Sirte, Libya.

Assad inherited power in Syria, coming in to power following the death of his father. The people of Syria saw the successes of other countries during the Arab Spring. He ordered his army to crush the revolt, which led Syria down a road of complete turmoil. The Syrian Arab Spring went from a national event, to a geopolitical showdown with the USA and the West aligned with the rebels and Russia closely aligned with Assad to keep him in power. The largest group of protesters in the Arab Spring movements were young men between the ages of These groups included the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which came to power after the Arab Spring removed Mubarak from power.

Throughout the Arab Spring, many civil-society organizations popped up in the various countries involved. Some were groups focused on civil structure and government after they deposed the current ruler, others had religious goals in mind. As time went on, many from the current regimes defected to the opposition, refusing to continue the slaughter of civilian protesters. In addition to these smaller national organizations, there were also international groups involved in the Arab Spring uprising, some of these groups include:.

Amnesty International is a group dedicated to the protection of human rights. Amnesty International tracks the carnage in the countries affected by the Arab Spring and fights to report the truth about the many atrocities being committed during the turmoil. The Red Cross association is dedicated to bringing medical supplies and treatment to the areas of conflict in the Arab World. Members of the Red Cross have even been the target for attacks in some of the countries they are helping in, making their mission an even harder task. Increased violence by the Libyan government against the protesters eventually drew condemnation from the international community, leading the UN to get involved militarily.


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While the UN did not want to get involved in outside nations conflicts, the responsibility of protecting civilians led to a call to action. NATO was involved heavily in Libya, eventually taking command of the armed resistance against Gaddafi. In Syria, a group known as the White Helmets have came to international prominence.

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This group is a volunteer organization, with no political affiliations that is dedicated to rescuing people after bombings in Syria. The White Helmets rush to sites of recent bombings and search to save civilians. To date, the White Helmets estimate they have saved almost , people in Syria. Sadly, over members of the White Helmets have perished in Syria working to save others. Th e current rulers of these countries called upon their long time allies to help ensure the safety of the regime, and the opposition relied on new allies, often old opponents of the regime to help their cause.

This political situation was highlighted in the Syrian conflict more than anywhere else.

Arab Fractures: Citizens, States, and Social Contracts - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Assad and the Syrian government had their backs against the wall and eventually called on ally Russia to help them survive. Under the context of operations against ISIS and other terrorist groups, Russia set up a military base in Syria and began conducting operations. Many of the operations were against opposition groups fighting Assad, not the Islamic terrorists they claimed to be fighting. The US and the West also took a stake in the Syrian conflict, arming various rebel factions. In Libya, Gaddafi relied on loyalist forces and eventually called in mercenaries paid soldiers from sub-Saharan African nations.

Celebrity endorsers of the Arab Spring on social media were not as prominent as other social media revolutions. Instead, the people of the countries who broadcasted information through social media channels became the stars of the Arab Spring. Although this documentary focused on the Syrian Civil war, it can be directly connected to the start of the uprising in the Arab Spring.

Abdalla is a British born actor and activist who was present during the uprising in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. Many popular platforms have been used in spreading information and organizing protests during the Arab Spring. It was not uncommon to see posts written in arabic, but with English hashtags. YouTube is a popular video-sharing platform that was used to capture abuses by officials and protests against government officials.

Facebook and Twitter were used to start revolutions. People involved in the Arab Spring strongly believed in powerful internal platforms. They had created their own social media platforms that replaced some of the platforms described above. Finally, Cloob. Emerging as the most documented hashtag used by all countries during the Arab Spring, ArabSpring was used to unite countries together in the fight for fair governments.

People from all over the world have used this hashtag on their social media posts in order to show their support for the uprisings. This also shows that the hashtags are all interconnected. Google Trends graph showing the use of the term Tunisia throughout the Arab Spring [95]. It is seen on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube. It was highly used at the beginning of the Arab Spring, when the movement was first unfolding.

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Human Rights official, Navi Pillay, announces that the death toll of the Syrian Civil war is almost , people. Google Trends graph showing when Sidibouzid emerged in and its use throughout the Arab Spring movement. The next most popular term searched was Sidibouzid, which is the town where the protests of the Arab Spring first began. Sidibouzid became a popular hashtag seen on Twitter in after the suicide of Tunisian street trader in the town of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia.

The first major spike is after the Tunisian government was overthrown and the second smaller spike followed the Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square, as explained above. The third inflection point occurred in May of was the confrontation at the city of Homs between Syrian military forces and the Syrian opposition. Most tweets using this hashtag were made by locals in their native Arabic language, discussing the political crisis that was occurring in their country.

It was used more by English speaking people during this time. January 25th was the first day of major day of revolt in Egypt. A major place of demonstration was Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. The hashtag Jan25 is a shortened version of the date that many protests around Egypt occurred and is used to separate these protests from ones in other countries. It was mostly used by outsiders looking in and observing the revolt. An opposition supporter wears bread on his head a s a makeshift helmet d uring protests in Yemen February 3, During the Yemen protests, activists used makeshift helmets to protect themselves from projectiles.

Mostly about Assad and his use of chemical weapons, the memes highlight the plight of the civilian people in Syria.


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The serious nature of the Arab Spring and the consequences for protesting against the government led to much of the social media content being graphic evidence of the atrocities committed by the regimes still in power. The cause of the Arab Spring was brought to attention through social media, unfortunately the memes created and social media content was not enough to spur direct involvement in many cases. After uploading a video of Egyptian security forces pilfering drugs during a raid online, the security services came for Khaled Said. Security services claimed that Khaled had died after ingesting two bags full of drugs to avoid punishment, however images released showed Khaled had been severely beaten.

This video increased awareness throughout the world, especially the Arab world as to what was transpiring in Egypt. Through online platforms, people could vote on matters as well as spread important documents. Women online tried to break gender and social barriers between males and females.

Women were influencing international revolutionary actions through social media accounts by challenging cultural and religious norms that had been going on for so long. It was not until later, however, that a planned growth emerged and resulted because of the Arab Spring. The results being an increase in political stability while economic reforms remained unmoved.

Explicitly viewing each country, Jordan is a country whose attempt to economic reform did not succeed. Still, there continues to be uncertainty of whether economic reform will take place. Both Jordan and Morocco have attempted to resolve deficits with investments and as a result, have impeded export growth. Though social media played a key role in part of the Arab Spring because it spread information to a broad audience, it did not mobilize the people or cause the events in the Arab Spring.

After the initial effects of the Tunisian Revolution, many nongovernmental organizations opened doors to leaders attempting to spread their voice beyond that of an online presence. This was done due to the amount of the population actually on social media platforms. The spreading of information from an offline presence, thus, became critical to bring awareness to much more large crowds. The organizational techniques used drove mobilization and spread news from the initial protests. Photo is from Wikimedia Commons created by Faris Knight.

A diverse community of academics, businesses and civil society groups shares my view. The blackouts deprived Sri Lankans of impartial news reports and disconnected families from each other as they sought to find out who had survived and who was among the dead and injured. Most strikingly, recent research suggests that the blackouts might have increased the potential for protest and violence in the wake of the attack. The first time Sri Lanka took a similar action was amid violent unrest in It was one of network shutdowns or large-scale disruptions to digital communication that year all around the world, according to digital rights advocacy organization Access Now.

Overall, since the Arab Spring began in , governments have carried out at least shutdowns across more than 40 countries. Those include hundreds of ephemeral shutdowns in India, where they first emerged as a localized response to unrest in the northern region of Kashmir and subsequently spread to most other states. For example, long-lasting, government-imposed blackouts have ravaged burgeoning digital economies such as that of Anglophone Cameroon and have disconnected businesses, relatives and communities in Chad for more than a year.

In study after study , civil society organizations have documented the human rights problems caused by internet shutdowns and the economic damage they produce. Only recently have researchers begun to ask a more fundamental question: Do massive disruptions to digital communication achieve their intended purposes? Read more: Sri Lanka attacks: government's social media ban may hide the truth about what is happening. Of course, the coexistence of social media and social turbulence does not necessarily imply that one causes the other.

For one thing, social media websites and services are always changing how their systems work , making them hard to study over time.

Today, roughly three Indian citizens are introduced to the internet every second. This lets scholars study their effects with more confidence. Coordination of the demonstrations swiftly moved from Facebook event pages to individual efforts in each neighborhood. This proved impossible for security forces to subdue. Ten days later, the Mubarak regime fell. In the Syrian Civil War, the government used shutdowns as a weapon of war, following up with increased violence against civilians.

In Africa, authoritarian governments that own the communication infrastructure and leaders who rule in virtual perpetuity are more inclined to pull the plug, but there is no evidence to suggest that shutdowns are effective in discouraging street protest or violent unrest. Indeed, official explanations for shutdowns — if the government acknowledges them at all — are often at odds with their likely true motivations, which include silencing opposition figures and ensuring a state monopoly on information during contentious elections.

In the midst of a crisis, this leaves the government as the only official gatekeeper of information. That becomes especially problematic when the government itself becomes a conduit for false and potentially harmful news, as was the case when Sri Lankan media circulated police reports that falsely identified a student at Brown University as a terrorist following the recent attack. Protests are not monolithic forces, and their participants can adapt to changing circumstances — including a sudden lack of information and even a blockage of communication and coordination. The global proliferation of shutdowns and rapid improvements in data about protests and conflicts enable researchers to analyze not only whether protests continue during internet blackouts, but also how they shift and change.

In India, state governments have faced thousands of peaceful demonstrations, as well as episodes of violent unrest. To find out the role of internet access in these events, I used precise, daily-level data on thousands of protests that occurred in the 36 states and Union Territories of India in , as well as data tracking the location, timing and duration of shutdowns from a variety of cross-referenced news sources and civil society groups.