The Implications of the Arab Spring on the Role of the Masses in Geopolitics

The Arab Spring and its Implications

The Arab world accounts for approximately 5% of the total global population. Despite the fact that certain countries in this region have experienced significant economic, social, and political development. Despite the huge resources available in these countries, a sizable proportion of the population lives in poverty. The majority of people in these countries are Muslims, which has been a major source of unity. People became more united during what has become known as the Arab Spring. A Tunisian man committed suicide by self-immolation on January 4, 2011. The man was protesting harassment by the authorities. His actions sparked protest in the city and this spread to the rest of the Arab world. The actions of the man eventually led to the fall of four powerful Arab Leaders. The Arab spring has drawn a lot of interest from scholars and stakeholders in world politics. The common people from various Arab countries defied the wishes of their governments and united to oust the dictatorial regimes. This paper will examine the implications of the revolution on interaction between the common people, especially the youth and other minorities, on the global scale.

Elevation of the Common Person in Geopolitics

One of the key successes of the Arab Spring was the successful mobilization of the people against the regimes. Individuals were able to interact and pursue their interests against the will of their governments. The contact between the citizens of the Arab countries is what pushed the regimes out of power (The Guardian n.p). Most theories of international relations define the state as being the central player in geopolitics. The theories imply that social, political and economic relations on the global scale are strictly confined to regulation by the state. They are to meet the demands and expectations of the regimes. However, the Arab Spring defied these theories. The people were able to form global links and spread their ideologies against the wish of the people.

Human Development and the Shift of Power

According to Kuhn (2), human development played a key role in the rapid progress that was experienced in regard to the Arab Spring. Contemporary dynamics in geopolitics have seen the spread of power from a few individuals in the government to the larger population. Before the spread of democracy, most governments had absolute power over the citizenry. This has begun to change due to enhanced access to education and resources by the larger population. Initially, governments would impair the ability of the people to access information through media censorship. The internet, especially social media, played a key role in spreading information to the people. During the Arab Spring, the ability of the people to access information gave them confidence to rise against the dictatorial regimes and influence other individuals on the international scale. Therefore, the Arab Spring can be interpreted as a key landmark in the gradual process of the shift of power from the leaders to the common people.

A Shift in Perception

The Arab World has been characterized by dictatorial regimes for about six decades (Campante and Chor 168). Most of these regimes have accused of corruption, violation of human rights, ruthless reactions to criticism and other activities that depicted bad governance. The common people suffered under these misdoings while leaders continued to amass wealth and power. Even the powerful nations tried to encourage good governance through appeals to the leaders or enforcement through means such as sanctions. Many Arab leaders were merely keen on retaining power and amassing more wealth and could thus not heed to the calls. The people in these countries did not seem to realize that they were facing common problems. From the political and economic perspective, links on the global scale have been initiated by governments or large business entities. The common people were often left out of links. However, the Arab Spring changed the perspective of the people on the issue. The Tunisians were able to influence the rest of the people in the Arab World against the will of the regimes (Kuhn 651). By spreading information, the people realized that they had common issues that can be solved through unity. Though there were no physical meetings between the citizens of the Arab countries, they remained united and this unity eventually bore fruit.

The Catalyst: Mohamed Bouazizi

The Whole Arab spring is linked to the grievances of a single street vendor. The start of the revolution is credited to a Tunisian Fruit Seller who used to move around with cart. On 17th December 2011, Mohamed Bouazizi was stopped by a police officer who demanded to see his license for selling fruit from his fruit cart. The two got into an argument and the officer tried to confiscate the cart (Bennet-Jones 2). Bouazizi could not raise the money to pay the fine and the officer resorted to physical abuse. Bouazizi sought redress for abuse from the authorities but he was turned away. Dejected, the young man who was also his family's breadwinner poured fuel on his body and set himself ablaze. In hours, the internet was awash with videos and photographs of Bouazizi burning himself.

A Paradigm Shift in International Relations

The story of Bouazizi made individuals in the Arab World realize that they had common grievances. The regimes were continuing to frustrate the people who did not realize that they had the power to overturn the situation (Bennet-Jones 5). The incidents that characterized the Arab Spring can best be used to dismiss the realist paradigm of international relations. Realists believe that states are the major actors of international relations. However, the masses became the major actors in the Arab spring where they went on to unite and champion for their interests against the will of the states.

Challenges to Traditional International Relations Paradigms

The activities that characterized the Arab spring can hardly be explained using the three major paradigms of international relations. The activities defy most of the ideals of these theories. The revolution was characterized by the relegation of the state and the elevation of the common person in geopolitics. However, realism can account for part of the Arab Spring theory. According to the idealism perspective of realism that was developed by Woodrow Wilson, a problem can only be solved at the local level if a parallel solution has been found on the international scale. Idealism has been treated as the precursor to the current relations theory. Therefore, the internal political philosophy used by individuals in the Arab Spring became a common purpose.

The Shift in Geopolitical Power Dynamics

The Arab spring brought a new dimension in geopolitics where the common people are taking a more active role. International relations are reforming to resonate with the needs of the masses. Rather than being controlled by the powerful policymakers at the state level, international relations and unity of purpose at the global scale is being determined by the citizenry. State behavior is becoming a lesser significant determinant of aspects in geopolitics. One recent example is Britain where the people defied calls by the existing regime and voted for Britain's withdrawal from the European. Therefore, the citizenry is getting more voice and discretion in geopolitics.

Works Cited

Bennet-Jones, Owen. Is Tunisia a role model for the Arab world? BBC News, 2 December 2014. Web. 27 May 2017.

Campante, Filipe R., and Chor, Davin. “Why was the Arab world poised for revolution? Schooling, economic opportunities, and the Arab Spring.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 26.2 (2012): 167-187.

Kuhn, Randall. “On the role of human development in the Arab Spring.” Population and Development Review 38.4 (2012): 649-683.

The Guardian. The Guardian view on the Arab spring: it could happen again. The Guardian, 2 January 2017. Web. 27 May 2017.

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