I wrote this short piece for an introductory 'zine put together by Resistance for upcoming orientation weeks at universities, summing up the struggles that emerged in 2011 and arguing how we should take them forward in 2012. Feel free to use it in any way, shape or form if you need an impossibly truncated description of the wave of revolt that's sweeping the MENA region to this day.
2011: The Arab Uprisings
2011 started with a wave of revolt in the Middle East – North Africa region that shattered the myth of Western democracy. It started in Tunisia, where Western-backed dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali tortured dissidents and supressed freedoms in the name of the "war on terror". But impoverished and repressed Tunisians fought back, and on January 14 Ben Ali was overthrown after 23 years in power.
The Tunisian example inspired everyone suffering under neoliberal economic attacks and police repression, and Egypt's dictator Hosni Mubarak was the next to fall. After massive street mobilisations across the nation by youth activists and wildcat strikes, Mubarak left office on February 11.
Despite the Western media spin that these were "Facebook revolutions" in which youth just wanted to win the same liberal democratic rights we enjoy here in Australia, the truth is these movements are clearly directed at the real cause of their oppression – the global economic system. The western-backed dictators of the region have enforced harsh neoliberal economic policies at the behest of the IMF & World Bank which have exacerbated crippling poverty for the majority and delivered unbelievable wealth to the chosen elites, both local & international.
The "Arab Spring" has lasted a full year, with no let up in the mass mobilisations, strikes and struggles against the regimes & the rich. And the victories in Egypt & Tunisia have inspired a wave of global struggle, both across the region and in the so-called Western democracies themselves.