Contextualizing the 2019 Uprisings

In December 2018, eight years after Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia sparked the Arab Uprisings in 2011, fuel and bread riots erupted in the North-Eastern Sudanese city of Atbara. Popular mobilizations intensified during 2019 and spread to four other Arab republics in what came to be referred to as the second wave of the Arab Uprisings. These events culminated in the ousting of the Algerian and Sudanese Presidents, Abdul-Aziz Bouteflika and Omar al-Bashir respectively, as well as the resignation of the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and his Iraqi counterpart Adel Abdel Mahdi.

This wave of events came as a total surprise since they happened at a time when people in the Arab world had developed an “Arab Spring fatigue.” Despite some new and unique dynamics in Algeria. Sudan, Lebanon and Iraq, the Al Sharq taskforce argues that these protests belong to the phenomenon of Arab uprisings in terms of the nature of the protesters demands and mobilizations. Hence, they should be seen as a second wave of these uprisings and not some scattered and disconnected events popping up randomly. The events of 2011 and 2019 bare unmistakable resemblances, namely:

Both were widespread popular demonstrations against inefficient, corrupt, authoritarian or democratically flawed regimes which resulted in either the resignation of the heads of the executive or the intervention of the military to unseat autocratic presidents who had monopolized power for decades.

Both revolts were the result of similar grievances and produced comparable demands from the protesters.

The protestors raised almost identical banners and chanted the very same slogans despite the eight year gap.