El País Interviews Kawa Hassan on the Impact of Arab Spring, Ten Years On

Media Coverage | January 05, 2021

Kawa Hassan, EWI's vice president of the Middle East and North Africa program and director of the Brussels Office, spoke with El País to reflect on the legacy of the uprisings that erupted across the Arab world in 2010 and 2011.

Hassan was quoted in an El País article on January 2 entitled, "El desenlace por escribir de la Primavera Árabe."

Hassan’s paraphrased remarks (translated from Spanish to English), appear below: 

In historic terms, ten years is not a sufficient time frame to judge the impacts of transformative processes like the "Dignity Revolutions," wrongly referred to as the "Arab Spring." Seasonal analogies, including "Arab Spring" and "Arab Winter or Autumn," are attractive and "sexy" from a marketing point of view but terribly miss the mark and hence, are misleading. That is why I prefer to call these uprisings "Dignity Revolutions"—millions of people from various backgrounds took to the streets demanding social justice and dignified citizenship. Though most of these protest movements have been brutally suppressed, they will likely return, perhaps bringing even more violence, since the root causes that produced them have worsened over the course of the past ten years. What is abundantly clear is that there will be no going back to a pre-2011 political order.   

It is unclear where the region is heading in the next ten years. The existing political order has proved to be resilient. The deeply corrupt and authoritarian leaders are ready to implement the strategy of scorched-earth and therefore, fight to the death to stay in power. Societies, too, have shown signs of resilience. Ten years on, the protesters are caught between authoritarian states, kleptocratic ruling elites and apocalyptic, authoritarian non-state actors, such as ISIS. Yet, the fear factor has fallen and as a result, no regime in the region—no matter how brutal—can take the status quo for granted. Unexpected, recent mass demonstrations in Iraq, Algeria, Lebanon and Sudan show that these societies are ready to protest and confront resilient authoritarianism.

Click here to read the full article on El País (in Spanish).