Uprisings and Revolutions in a Tumultuous Decade

A Summary of the Major Social Uprisings, Revolutions, and Revolts of the 2010s.

by Michael Roach

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The events in Ukraine marks another major social movement in the world in which citizens of an unpopular regime overthrow the regime through a plethora of anti-government techniques from peaceful non-violent protests to massive rebellions against the state. Since 2010 there have been over 20 revolts – large social movements or massive armed uprisings – against governments around the world and here are a few examples of them, starting from the most recent.

While the whole world has been watching events unfold in Ukraine, protests have been occurring as early as January in Venezuela due to a dispute triggered by a disputed election result. Henrique Capriles Radonski, a popular candidate for President ran against interim President Nicolás Maduro. Maduro had won the election even though Radonski challenged the results. Outrage at the corruption in the Marudo government, as well as the high amounts of crime united students and middle to upper class citizens against Maduro triggering violent protests that have raged since late January. Opposition leader Leopoldo López has been imprisoned by Maduro, only adding more fuel to the fire which still is raging in Venezuela.

The protests and uprisings throughout countries in the Middle East which have collectively come to be known as the ‘Arab Spring’ has been influential all over most of the region, and it still occurring in some places. Syria, which has seen an alliance of secularists, nationalists, Islamic groups and others band together against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, has seen a small civil uprising in 2011 turn into a full out civil war which is still raging today in 2014. From chemical attacks to insurgency, Syria has by far been the most costly war in human lives of all the uprisings in the Arab Spring with approximately 120,000 killed as of late 2013 according to the U.N. This is not to mention the well over three million Syrians who have fled the country and subsequently have become refugees, seeking asylum in Europe, Turkey, Russia, and the United States.

Also an ongoing part of the Arab Spring is the unstable state of Libya which has seen not only a great dictator cast down but also a slow slip into anarchy. Although the overthrow and death of Muammar Gaddafi, the 42 year ruler of Libya did much to advance the cause of the opposition, conflicts between the established state government in Tripoli and the non-sanctioned freelance militias which reside primarily in Benghazi and elsewhere have created a tense political battle which Libya is still currently engulfed in. With the 2012, September 11th attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, the tension between the state and militias grew even tenser as state officials cracked down on the militias.

Another ongoing Arab Spring revolt is Egypt, which while technically successful is still going through the arduous process of creating a democratic system. The month of February saw another longtime dictator fall as a coalition of opposition forces, from Coptic Christians to secularists to Islamic groups, eventually forced Hosni Mubarak to step down after he had been President of Egypt for 20 years. In what is also known as the ‘Lotus Revolution’, Egypt was arguably the most successful Arab Spring revolt so far with the implementation of social media and political leverage encouraging crowds of a quarter of a million people to pack into Tahrir Square. Images of people in the square climbing on top of tanks in the square still resonate as one of the most powerful images of the decade. However, when newly elected President Mohammed Morsi threatened civil liberties and temporarily suspended the newly created Constitution, the military, backed with popular support, ousted Morsi in a coup d’état. Both Mubarak and Morsi are on trial and the political situation in Egypt is as of yet uncertain.

Other Arab Spring countries which overthrew their regimes or instituted major/minor reforms include: Jordan, Morocco, Yemen, Tunisia, Algeria, Kuwait, Lebanon and Oman. However, not all Arab Spring uprisings took root. For example, protests in Iran were met with abysmal failure. On February 14th 2011, in what has been called the “Day of Rage”, Iranian protesters took to the streets protesting alleged election fraud and the high suppression that the Ahmadinejad regime kept firmly in place. Like their fellow protesters from the ‘Arab Spring’, the Iranian protesters used extensive use of social media to mobilize and communicate in a severely controlled society.

Finally, while not as violent, social movements have erupted here in the United States including the push for marriage equality and the legalization of marijuana; two socially liberal policies which have attracted both political traction and social approval after years of demonstrations country-wide. And who can forget our direct product from the ‘Arab Spring’, the ‘Occupy Movement’, which swept the country and made issues like income inequality and youth empowerment two issues critical in the political and social discussion in America today.

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