News Analysis / Anne Allmeling: Arab spring, summer or winter?


Three months after former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, experts are at odds over whether the “Arab Spring” is still in bloom

For Shadi Hamid, Director of Research of the Brookings Doha Center, the so-called Arab Spring is history: “[It’s] over,” he said during the Arab Media Forum in Dubai on May 18. “I don’t even want to use that term any more. We can use this term in the past tense but there is no Arab Spring right now.”

Since Mr. Mubarak stepped down, Mr. Hamid argues, no other authoritarian leader in the Arab world has fallen. And it remains unclear whether any such leader will fall in the near future.

“Many of us were hoping that regimes would use less force,” Mr. Hamid said. “However, they’ve used more force almost without exception. This is the ‘New Normal in the Middle East’: Use excessive force and use it consistently.”

Dalia Mogahed, Director of the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, assesses the current situation in the Middle East differently.

“It would be hard to argue that the Arab Spring is over,” she said during the second Dubai Debates on the subject “After the Arab Awakening: Opportunities and Challenges for a New Arab World.”

According to the Gallup Center’s research, corruption, the brutality of police states, economic growth without prosperity, and a lack of freedom were some of the reasons that made the people in Tunisia and Egypt revolt against their regimes.

“The conditions that created the Arab Spring are still present in many places,” Ms. Mogahed said. “It’s very hard to predict where the Arab Spring is going. The main factor in keeping people from rising up before was fear but their sense of defeat has been replaced by defiance. That is not going away any time soon.”

Rather than talking about the Arab Spring, the former advisor to the White House prefers using the term “Arab uprising.”

“‘Spring’” seems so positive but it has been very difficult,” said Ms. Mogahed. “People have died, people have sacrificed, people have shown immense courage in the face of brutality. The term ‘Arab Spring’ almost takes away from how difficult it has been.”

Tarik Yousef, Dean of the Dubai School of Government, pointed out that the uprisings created dynamics that are impossible to foresee.

“No country is the same, and no country is immune,” Mr. Yousef said. “We may be only just beginning.”

(Anne Allmeling, a contributor to Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: [email protected])