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The Arab Spring Turns Five

2 minute read

On Dec. 17, 2011, protests in Tunisia kicked off what would become known as the Arab Spring, a wave of democratic movements that have changed the face of the region. Here’s how the key countries are faring half a decade on:


Regarded as the lone success story of the revolts, Tunisia’s political rivals crafted a compromise in 2013 that avoided bloodshed and recently won the alliance the Nobel Peace Prize. But many are worried that reforms have stalled, amid security concerns after deadly jihadist attacks in March and June.


In 2013, Egypt’s military overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who was elected after the uprising. Since then, the regime of General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has cracked down on political opponents, leaving over 1,000 dead and tens of thousands jailed.


After longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in 2012, his successor Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was ousted by Houthi rebels in January. A Saudi Arabia–led air campaign has attempted to dislodge the rebels since March, at the cost of 5,000 lives.


The Syrian uprising spawned an armed revolt, then civil war. With 250,000 dead so far, the country is now split among the regime of President Bashar Assad, rebel groups, Kurdish militias and extremists like ISIS.


After the uprising toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s political transition collapsed. The country is now divided among two rival parliaments and various militia groups. ISIS is gaining territory.


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