Season of Unrest: Uprisings In The Middle East

Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, and now Libya is in the midst of political turmoil; are we seeing a seismic shift throughout the Middle East and North Africa to a more open and transparent political and governing structure or this simply the case of authoritarian regimes being caught off guard only to return to power in the near term?

It is still too early to tell what to expect from these countries in the form of governance, however, I am optimistic that the youth of these countries will not allow their political hopes and dreams to fall in to the hands of the old authoritarian regimes. We already see that playing out in Egypt and Tunisia, where the youth continue to protest in order to speed up the reform agenda and make sure their efforts are not in vain. In Tunisia, the “old guard” Prime Minster just resigned – realizing that the people of Tunisia did not accept him as a legitimate leader. As Libya plays out, it is highly unlikely their citizens will want to return to another authoritarian regime since they were ruled by one for 40 plus years. The youth of the Middle East are truly a bright spot in the future of that region – politically smart, well educated, and tech savvy – all elements which are likely to produce a more transparent and accountable political system.

Why are these uprisings happening now and why these particular countries?

These uprisings are happening now because the people of these countries are truly at their breaking point – economically and politically. These revolutions were sparked in Tunis, Tunisia, by a young man who was so fed up with his repressive government which did not afford him any opportunity. Tunisia successfully overthrew its long time President, and that spread to Yemen, Egypt and now Libya. These countries all have several factors in common: a frustrated youth population which is highly educated but cannot find jobs; a huge divide between economic classes; and an overly repressive government which does not have legitimacy with the people.

Should Libya eventually go the way of Yemen, Egypt, and Tunisia, what are the implications for U.S. foreign policy in the region moving forward?
We are at a very critical moment in history, and the U.S. must make sure it has a seat at the table. Right now, the U.S. is perceived as being slow, uncertain, indecisive and even weak in our reaction to events in the region. The Middle East is critical to the national security interests of the United States. I expect more from our Administration in supporting the people’s quest for democracy and freedom in the Middle East. I urge the Obama Administration to do more to support the people and the future of the governance systems in these countries.

For more on the current crisis gripping the Middle East, visit the XII Project at

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Comment by Anne Farrell on April 26, 2011 at 1:21pm

Dear Eric,


Peace & justice & nonviolence.. are now the new generations. As environmental was some years ago! The youth from the Northern countries will support the youth in the Arab countries!


Anne F.

Comment by Hussain Mujahid on April 24, 2011 at 5:22am

There is very clearly double standards of the US to deal in ME. The present move of the US shows more protection of its security interest not human rights. Just see an example of Behrain and Yemen and Libya...

This strategy has made many regions insecure for US peoples are more hatred to US.




Comment by Marianne Baziruwiha on April 22, 2011 at 9:25am

Hello Eric Ham

Two points that do not connect and teaches lessons about what the real problem of humanity is:

  1. A youth  highly frustrated and educated, but cannot find Jobs
  2. A huge divide between economic classes; and an overly repressive government which does not have legitimacy with the people


Point 1; reveals the problem facing humanity, which is education


Iused to think that scholarships were paid for students to go study, research subjectects, aiming to serve in solving problms of Humanity. Not anymore. Masters, Ingeneers, Architechs, Doctors, Lawyers and many more a bunch of titles, learn only how to take control and make moneys by all means.

When you think, these are people who are supposed to create jobs for others who did not go to school.


Point 2. A repressive government again translate better education, as the real pressing humanity problem

Some who learn how to take power control, have to ensure that the have it for ever. The “highly frustrated and educated, but cannot find Jobs” are becoming a gang, battling to gain, maintain the power control.


Great powers interventions are away to helping, they perpetuate the circle.

Solution is individual and collective, as I can’t agree more with Shyam Tosawad, … “it should be a change for humanitarian ground all human being should be benefited and should be aware that We created countries, boundaries,religions,cast,race for any reason.” In this perspective, a god who creates can also destroys  what he/ she created as it please

Marianne Baziruwiha

Comment by Arif Khalil on April 22, 2011 at 6:44am
The peace efforts should have thought well and sold to all stakeholders as we learn through this network. The article shows a true face of rightly indicated weak effort at the hand of split politics of the current regime in the USA. What we can expect from a dying empire... aren't they trying to fight china in libya and don't you see the whole package of democracy was for that big game which showed how broken and weak are the muscles of old country? One can see the over ridden expectations of youth will fire back very soon because usa cannot pay the high price of such sparks...
Comment by Maria Lisa Dioneda on April 22, 2011 at 6:31am
I commend this article for highlighting the role of the youth in the MENA popular uprisings. Though we have seen that in the course of their struggle savvy politicians took central stage and in the case of Yemen, we can read through the various local newspapers (and their websites)  and one can see the on-going propaganda war including a lot of intrigues and conspiracy stories which to my opinion should not overshadow the democratic aspirations of Yemeni youth and the ordinary citizens and their visions for good governance. In the course of their popular movement for change, we can discern how conservative, liberal and progressive voices had been coming out to the fore. Yemen polity is still evolving and i would say, majority of the youth and intellectuals in this country can serve as a strong social conscience and can articulate the aspirations of the marginalized. It would be unfair to say that no one can lead the country (except the strongman and statist regime backed-up by global powers) in its most challenging period facing post-modern/post-crisis period of global history. Citizenship and how it means to Yemenis (Arabs for that matter)  is evolving. We should pin our hopes on the prospects for genuine development and democratization in this region. We should infact be welcoming the emerging/re-awakened political values of good governance, transparency and accountability which are inherently found in these societies, and support their full maturation.
Comment by shyam tosawad on April 22, 2011 at 3:39am
This the nice articles and a time to think and realize that if any change is happening in any where then it should be a change for humanitarian ground all human being should be benefited and should be aware that We created countries, boundaries,religions,cast,race for any reason.But this the time to realize that we are one and naturally interconnected with each other which we can just realize by watching inhale and exhale of our breaths. The source is same without any discrimination of religion and boundaries, equally for all living life of universe .When we understand this simple thing then we must understand how our and other's life is equally important, valuable and respectable .
I hope in Middle east also people will understand that this entire world should live a great peaceful family.

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