What is legacy of Arab Spring protests and uprisings as Tunisia’s president ousts PM in ‘coup’
Long considered one of the few success stories that sprang from the Arab Spring, Tunisia has seen its president accused of staging a coup after he sacked his prime minister and suspended parliament with the help of the army.
President Kais Saied’s dismissal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi on Sunday followed violent demonstrations across the country over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
It has led to clashes between supporters and opponents of the president in the streets of the capital, Tunis.
Mr Saied has said he will name a new prime minister, but his critics have accused him of a power grab that threatens Tunisia‘s young democracy.
Here is a look at the legacy of the Arab Spring and how protests and uprisings dramatically altered the political structure of much of the Arab world.
The Arab Spring
The Arab Spring spread across much of the Arab world from early 2010 as demonstrators rallied against the region’s dictatorial leaders in protests over corruption, poverty and oppression.
Escalating anti-government protests spilt over into uprisings and eventually civil wars in several countries as the Arab Spring spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Syria, Libya and Yemen, resulting in the ousting of the leaders in those countries, with the exception of Syria.
It has directly contributed to the refugee crisis and the rise of the Islamic State and has seen fresh authoritarian leaders seize power in many countries, leaving many with their hopes crushed as they struggle to live under increasingly authoritarian regimes in countries beset by greater levels of poverty and unemployment.
The roots of the Arab Spring can be traced back to Tunisia, where Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit seller, set himself on fire in protest after police confiscated his goods and a female officer slapped him on 17 December 2010.
Footage of his self-immolation spread across the country and led people in his home city of Sidi Bouzid to take to the streets in rage.
Within a month, protests had forced Tunisia’s authoritarian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, to flee to Saudi Arabia.
Despite the relative success of Tunisia’s revolution, the country has recently seen large protests over mass unemployment and many consider its parliament inefficient and stagnant.
These problems have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the economy hard as infection rates soared over the summer.
Demonstrations in Tunisia following the death of Bouazizi inspired massive protests across Egypt, leading President Hosni Mubarak to leave office within weeks.
A presidential election in 2012 gave power to President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, but Mr Morsi himself was later deposed when Egypt’s military generals seized power in 2013.
Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi then became president and imposed a police state, which has seen tens of thousands of Egyptians imprisoned and hundreds executed.
The country remains under military rule.
As unrest spread across Syria, Bashar al Assad’s government began using live ammunition against protesters, leading tensions to boil over and igniting a civil war in 2011 between the regime and rebel groups.
IS emerged from among the myriad rebel groups and expanded across the border into Iraq, where it declared a new Islamic caliphate in 2014.
Syria’s brutal decade-long civil war has seen hundreds of thousands of people killed and over 6.8 million Syrians become asylum seekers and 6.7 million displaced within the country’s borders.
Despite this, Mr Assad has managed to cling on to power with the support of Russia, Iran and Lebanon-based Shia-militant group Hezbollah, although fighting in the war-ravaged country continues and several areas remain under the control of rebels.
Similarly, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi decided to crack down on the largest protests in the country’s history with force.
The move sparked a civil war and a NATO-led coalition began conducting airstrikes in support of the country’s rebels.
Rebel forces deposed and later killed Gaddafi in October 2011. However, efforts to transition away from Gaddafi’s rule broke down and the country descended into a renewed civil war.
The internationally recognised Government of National Accord remains in control of Tripoli and the city of Misrata, while the Libyan National Army, commanded by General Khalifa Haftar, runs Benghazi and much of the oil-rich east. General Haftar’s forces are supported by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
As protests spread throughout much of the Arab world, pressure on Yemen’s authoritarian president Ali Abdullah Saleh led him to hand power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, in 2011.
However, Mr Hadi’s presidency was beset by continuing problems of corruption, unemployment and an insurgency from the Houthi militia.
The Houthis took control of the capital, Sana’a, in 2014 and declared themselves in charge of the government. Yemen’s President, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, fled to Aden, where he continues to lead Yemen’s internationally-recognised government.
Fierce fighting between the Iran-backed Houthi group and the western-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia has led to one of the worst famines the world has ever seen, with half of the population lacking food and almost 16 million on the brink of starvation in 2016.
Other countries affected
While the Arab Spring saw rulers deposed in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, it also led to street protests in Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Sudan. Some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, were able to use military force to effectively end revolts before they could seriously threaten the status quo.
Legacy of the Arab Spring
While the reverberations of the Arab Spring continue to affect life in the Arab World, continuing issues including corruption, authoritarianism and poverty are likely to be exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis.
Only Tunisia’s uprising resulted in a transition to a constitutional democracy, but with the country’s president ousting his prime minister, the shift away from authoritarian rule is looking increasingly fragile.
Turkey election: President Erdogan declared winner with more than 52% of vote
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won the presidential run-off election, with leaders from around the world congratulating him.
With 99% of the votes counted, Mr Erdogan, who served as prime minister from 2003 to 2014, won with a share of 52.1%.
It means he has secured a record-breaking third term as president and will serve at least five more years in power.
Turkey election latest
Erdogan thanks crowds as election officials declare him winner
Polls closed at 5pm local time (3pm BST) and while votes were counted fast, for hours it remained too close to call. At one point, less than a percentage point separated the incumbent from his rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
Shortly after 8pm local time (6pm BST) Mr Erdogan stepped out of his home and thanked people for “giving us the responsibility to rule for the next five years”.
He has been congratulated by a host of world leaders. Among them, Vladimir Putin, who wrote a lengthy message to Mr Erdogan, which concluded: “From the bottom of my heart I wish you new successes in such a responsible activity as the head of state, as well as good health and well-being.”
French President Emmanuel Macron also sent well-wishes, as well as reiterating the “immense challenges” both countries face.
“The return of peace to Europe, the future of our Euro-Atlantic Alliance, the Mediterranean Sea,” he tweeted.
“With President Erdogan, whom I congratulate on his re-election, we will continue to move forward.”
Opponent refuses to admit defeat
Kemal Kilicdaroglu took the stage earlier this evening, and in a rousing speech, he refused to admit defeat.
“I wasn’t able to defend your rights,” Kilicdaroglu began by saying. “I did not shirk against an unjust structure, I could not be a silent devil and I was not.
“I could not stand quiet against millions of people becoming second-class citizens in this country.
“I could not let them stand all over your rights. For your children to go to bed hungry. For farmers to not to be able to produce. I could not allow these things.”
He concluded by thanking the 25 million people who voted for him – and says the “battle continues”.
First presidential run-off in Turkey’s history
The pair were forced to go head to head when neither reached the required 50% of the vote in the first round on 14 May and Mr Erdogan’s win will have profound consequences for Turkey, and the wider world.
The two candidates offered sharply different visions of the country’s future and its recent past.
Mr Erdogan’s government vetoed Sweden’s bid to join NATO and purchased Russian missile-defense systems, which prompted the United States to oust Turkey from a US-led fighter-jet project. But it also helped broker a crucial deal that allowed Ukrainian grain shipments and averted a global food crisis.
Meanwhile, Mr Erdogan’s 74-year-old challenger promised to restore a more democratic society.
Sudan conflict: Pregnant woman and baby killed in shooting – but husband left unaware
Men in crisp white thobes sit on mats under a leafy thorn tree carefully cutting pieces of white material.
They slowly stitch them together with tender, experienced precision.
Another shroud for another life lost to senseless violence.
More men arrive and they raise their hands in prayer to grieve the recently deceased.
The latest victim of the militias terrorising their community lies in a two room morgue a few metres away.
Fatma was eight months pregnant and travelling on a cart with her young son and daughter to Hajr Hadeed in eastern Chad.
She left her husband in the violence of al Geneina, the state capital of West Darfur in Sudan, where fleeing residents are reporting a citywide massacre.
Fatma’s sister Zeinab says her five-year-old nephew El-Sheikh was holding his pregnant mother’s body when the cart arrived in the village.
She rushed with close relatives to Adre Central Hospital.
They could feel the heaviness of Fatma’s body, but held out hope that the baby in her belly was still alive.
Hospital workers were cleaning the blood from the floor when they arrived at Dr Mahmoud Adam’s office.
He said Fatma was dead when she arrived and was quickly able to ascertain that the baby too had died.
“Since the war in Khartoum started so many wounded civilians are passing through the border from Darfur,” said Dr Mahmoud, whose hospital now has treatment tents operated by the medical aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in its grounds.
He recalls the 2003 genocide and observes there is little difference between then and now.
“It is so sad that to see people dying and suffering like this,” he said.
We walk over to the morgue where Fatma lies covered on a cement slab.
“She was shot in the back of the head,” he said.
Dr Mahmoud believes she died instantly.
Read more on Sudan crisis:
Scale of destruction in before and after images
The fighting explained
Zeinab sits under a tree just outside the morgue building.
Her eyes are wet and wide and every couple of minutes she muffles her sobs with her dark tobe.
Fatma’s small children lie silently across her lap.
More family arrive from their village as the body is prepared for burial.
Zeinab is handed different phones as family from across the region call to extend their condolences.
One call that doesn’t come is from Fatma’s husband Adam in al Geneina where telecommunications have been down for more than a week.
The only information from there is coming from the fleeing residents who have safely made it across the violence-ridden region.
The city ‘is on fire’
They say the city is on fire and that there are too many deaths to count.
Deep in the al Geneina blackout, Adam is still unaware that his wife and unborn child have been killed.
No one can reach him to deliver the news.
Fatma emerges from the morgue wrapped in the white shroud.
She’s lifted onto the back of a military grade Toyota pick-up by the men from her family as wailing rings out from the crowd of women.
Dread and panic
The cries carry more than just loss, but notes of dread and panic.
The fearful anticipation that there is more grief to come.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay rules out new pay offer for nurses despite ‘constructive’ meeting with RCN chief
Health Secretary Steve Barclay held a “constructive” meeting with Royal College of Nursing (RCN) chief Pat Cullen – but made clear that a new pay offer for nurses will not be forthcoming.
Ms Cullen previously recommended the members of her union accept the deal agreed with the government, but it was rejected by members.
However, the offer was imposed because a majority of the NHS Staff Council body wanted to take the deal – despite the opposition from the RCN.
‘Manifestly wrong’ for MPs to claim driving fines back on expenses
Speaking to Trevor Phillips, who was hosting Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News, Mr Barclay was asked about a recent summit with Ms Cullen.
He said they “had a very constructive meeting this week” – but described what was offered previously and accepted by the NHS Staff Council as a “full and final” offer.
This offer amounted to a 5% pay rise, plus a cash top-up.
Currently, the RCN is balloting over whether to take further strike action, with close to 30,000 members taking part in the vote.
Ms Cullen said previously: “Once again, we have been forced to ask our members if they want to take to the picket lines in their fight for fair pay.
“This is unfinished business and the government can get it resolved without the need for more strike action.”
The cost of living crisis saw the RCN take part in nationwide industrial action across England for the first time in its history.
After other health unions also took action, Unison, GMB, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists and the Royal College of Midwives were all among those who in the end voted to accept the pay increase offered by the government.
Demands aren’t ‘legally possible’
Speaking about the deal, Mr Barclay told Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “It means a band six, entry-level nurse gets over £5,000 over the two years – recognising the huge, valuable contribution that NHS staff have made.
“Now what some in the RCN are asking us to do isn’t legally possible.
“It’s not possible to give a band six nurse different pay to a band six midwife or a band six paramedic.”
Unite was another union which rejected the government’s offer.
Members at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, last week announced they would be downing tools on 1 June – and junior doctors will be walking out for 72 hours on 14 June.
Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts
The RCN leadership is encouraging its members to vote in favour of strikes.
While Mr Barclay said the pay element of the deal is closed, there is room for talks about issues like violence against staff and pension abatement, he added.
Sports7 months ago
‘Storybook stuff’: Inside the night Bryce Harper sent the Phillies to the World Series
Technology2 years ago
Game consoles were once banned in China. Now Chinese developers want a slice of the $49 billion pie
Sports2 years ago
Team Europe easily wins 4th straight Laver Cup
Politics1 year ago
Have the last few wobbly weeks seen a turning point for Johnson as PM?
Business8 months ago
Bank of England’s extraordinary response to government policy is almost unthinkable | Ed Conway
Politics1 year ago
Yvette Cooper promoted and Lisa Nandy to shadow Gove on levelling up brief in Labour reshuffle
Business8 months ago
Liz Truss’s ‘favourite’ economist says chancellor ‘took his eye off ball’ and ‘overstepped the mark’ with mini-budget
Videos8 months ago
World leaders come together for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral