Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution
by Chloé Marie Bemba.
My final year of study for a degree in Politics and International Relations at Loughborough University coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Arab Spring. This blog is a reflection on study undertaken between October and December 2021.
I remember vividly seeing all the revolutionary movements making the headlines in the early 2010s and the fact that everyone was worried of potential wars across the region, which sadly happened later in Yemen and Syria. As I wanted to learn more about the Middle East and its rich history and politics, I enrolled in the “International Politics of the Middle East” module. The module was led by Dr Ali Bilgic.
One of the main aims of the module was to demystify the Middle East, to help students understand the complexities of the region’s politics, recent history, and relationship to the wider world. From the Ottoman Empire to the Syrian Civil War, lectures covered different eras, topics, and geographies, and taught us several theories that we used in a simulation as well as our research essay. The lecture featuring the content that most fascinated me was on the revolutions that started in 2011 in Tunisia, the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring has had tremendous effects on democracy and rights. However, I was wondering if it was still the case, ten years after? Was the Tunisian revolution still considered a success? Or, had the ambitions of the revolutionaries slowly fallen apart?
After deciding the topic and choosing a question, the lecturer recommended me to use a more focused approach and think of a way to measure what might constitute success. In this case, the success was measured by various factors: the democratic transition and its aftermaths, if violence was overly present throughout the revolution, and finally if the situation had improved a decade after.
I chose Tunisia as a case study for various reasons: first of all, the contestation started in Tunisia for economic and socio-political reasons and the movement was well-organised – especially compared to other uprisings that followed. Moreover, it is the place where it all started in 2011. After the Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia was considered a tremendous accomplishment especially when compared to other nations that underwent similar political upheavals, as it was the only country to successfully experience a democratic transition. Nonetheless, the economy remains an issue, social issues remain unresolved, and political contestation is rising.
I came to the conclusion that the case of Tunisia can be described as an achievement compared to its neighbours Algeria or Libya as they have a democratically elected government. Despite being imperfect, some progress has been made in other areas. I also argued that the Jasmine revolution could be deemed successful because there had a fairly peaceful transition compared to what happened and is happening in Yemen or Syria. However, despite improvements, the situation is not ideal – especially after the pandemic – as Tunisia was greatly affected from the lack of tourism. There is an upcoming election this summer to elect a new president.
Biography: I am going to graduate from Loughborough university this summer 2022 with a degree in Politics and International Relations. I really enjoy studying International Politics and International Relations especially those between the African continent and China. I will pursue my studies and deepen my knowledge further. I am French and Congolese and used to live in Congo-Brazzaville until moving to university.
To find out more about the topic here is a selection of readings:
Cammett, M. and Diwan, I. (2018) The Political Economy of the Arab Uprisings. London: Routledge, pp. 1-44.
Cammett, M., Diwan, I., Richards, A. and Waterbury, J. (2015). A Political Economy of the Middle East. 4th ed. New York: Routledge, pp.1-32
AFP, “Tunisia to vote on ‘new republic’ on July 25”, France 24 online, 26 May 2022. URL: https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220526-tunisia-to-vote-on-new-republic-on-july-25 (accessed 29 May 2022)
Korany, Bahgat. (2011) The Changing Middle East: A New Look at Regional Dynamic. American University in Cairo Press: https://cairo.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.5743/cairo/9789774163531.001.0001/upso-9789774163531
Wiśniewski, A. (2018). Arab Spring and its Aftermath on the Example of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Securitologia, (2), pp.81-92. https://doi.org/10.4467/24497436SCU.18.016.11490
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