Ten years on, the lives of people in Arab Spring countries have improved in certain aspects but worsened in others. CFR.org visualizes the changes in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.
December 3, 2020
In December 2010, Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest outside a government office in the little-known town of Sidi Bouzid. In a matter of days, his act of defiance set off a revolutionary movement that rippled across the Middle East and North Africa, toppling some long-standing authoritarian regimes.
Where the Arab Spring Happened
Looking back, the uprisings, commonly known as the Arab Spring, produced modest political, social, and economic gains for some of the region’s inhabitants. But they also sparked horrific and lasting violence, mass displacement, and worsening repression in parts of the region. These graphics show how the lives of those in six Arab Spring hot spots—Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen—have changed, for better or worse, since the upheaval began a decade ago.
Protesters were motivated by many factors, but analysts say a common theme was a push for dignity and human rights. In many countries, religious tensions also played a significant role. For instance, Islamist parties gained power in formerly secular Tunisia and Egypt (although only temporarily in the latter). Meanwhile, deep sectarian divisions helped give rise to the anti-government movements in Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen. Only Tunisia made a lasting shift to democracy, whereas Egypt backslid, and Libya, Syria, and Yemen spiraled into protracted civil wars.