The Broken Rifle 98
The popular unarmed uprisings in the Arab World early in 2011 took the world by surprise, both because most observers did not expect demands for human rights and democratic choice to become central in Arab states, and because they did not expect mass protest to be predominantly unarmed. However, in retrospect there are many reasons why initially the 'Arab Spring' took the forms it did in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Libya and other states. Moreover, as scholars of nonviolent civil resistance pointed out, in the first months the most significant movements displayed some of the classic characteristics of such resistance. In the longer term, however, many of the movements have failed to fulfill their initial promise, overtaken by armed civil war (as happened quickly in Libya and more gradually in Syria), or failing to achieve their initial democratic promise - most notably in Egypt. The impressive protests at the 'Pearl Roundabout' in Bahrain were quite quickly crushed, and preemptive offers by rulers of Morocco and Jordan to make reforms to meet public demands have so far only diluted royal power. This article briefly elaborates on the points made above, and then raises some questions about the future.