In the year 2019, the term ‘Arab Spring 2.0’ made its introduction in the media. Referring to the wave of protests known as the ‘first’ ‘Arab Spring’ almost a decade ago in many Middle Eastern countries. Despite the unfortunate naming, it’s a fact that there’s an increase in protests in the region. Lebanon, Iraq, Iran and earlier Sudan, Algeria and Egypt, all are facing citizens of all layers of society protesting in the streets. What started as a little spark became a fire. Eventually, the protests resulted in demands for the fall of the regime. A successful story in the situation of Sudan, although fingers are crossed for the future. How the story will end for the remaining countries is up today as unpredictable as the weather.
Middle Eastern protests: some basics you should know
Of course, there’s a long list of historical facts covering among other social contracts, colonialization and sectarianism. All having a significant influence on any protest. And while the protests are framed as a whole, there’s a unique situation in all of the countries. Still, the psychological mechanisms of politics are uncovered by these facts and unique characteristics. In fact, there are some understandable dynamics that will bring the protests into perspective.
Referring to the demand for the fall of the regime: what happens if the regime will lose power? Here’s a psychological explanation of the function of the regimes in Middle Eastern countries.
Foundation of the nation
To explain the dynamics of the protests in the easiest way you have to start with using your imagination. Imagen one of the protesting countries as an apartment building. The government is the foundation and owner of the building. The citizens of the country live in the apartments of the building.
Now translate this to the protesting countries in the Middle East. The people living in the apartments complain about the dysfunctional foundation of the building; the government. Fixing is not an option anymore. They want the foundation to be removed for a new and better one. The inhabitants of the apartments are not able to move. The building owner doesn’t want the foundation to be removed because it will lose ownership of the building. The inhabitants start complaining. Complains become protests because of the lacking owner. And so, the situation starts with more and more people in the apartments want the foundation to be replaced for a better way of living. Translated: citizens want to replace their government because it’s a dysfunctional foundation of the country.
Meanwhile, it’s common sense that when removing the fundament of the building you need an alternative fundament to prevent the building from collapsing. Despite any judgmental view of the current regimes; they are the foundation that keeps the countries together. Indeed, as good as it gets. Or more accurately, as worse as it gets. The government has made its position needed to prevent the country from collapsing.
In case the foundation will be removed, the building will collapse. In any case, the government will lose power, something like that can happen for the country. The regimes had in their years of power control over the institutions of the country. Referring to the apartment building; they were the owner; they were in charge of everything. In fact, they were the glue that kept it all together. So, when there’s a success in letting the regime fall, a political gap will be the consequence. The building with apartments will become chaotic and unmanageable without any foundation. In this kind of anarchy, anyone could take over control of the nation. The strongest and smartest will win the battle of power. Because in reality, the race of power is not equal to the fight for a better way of living for the country.
Luckily there’s an option B. In the situation of the building: for a better quality of life, replacing the dysfunctional foundation with a better one without the permission of the owner. Translated into real life: the old regime replaced with force by a new government. This could happen for a transition period or for a lasting period of time. A scenario that took unsuccessfully place by foreign intervention in Iraq in 2003. A more successful scenario happens when the foundation will be replaced by the apartment owners themselves. For Tunisia, this scenario became real in 2011 and recently Sudan is in a transition period for a democratic system.
Whatever happens, after the government will lose power it will not be a fairytale but a time of hard work. Every successful country needs to be managed appropriately. It’s up to the people of the country to decide what appropriately means to them.
Read more about the psychological mechanisms of the protests: Middle Eastern protests: when comes the killer wave?