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The broken (economic) illusions of the Arab Spring


Twelve years after the uprising in North Africa, the countries that lived through the riots have worsened their situation

A little over 12 years ago, the hot desert air fanned the sand in continuous riots of freedom.

Earth to build the Arab Spring.

A youth revolution against theocracies, dictators and satraps.

But today memory has nothing to celebrate.

There are many dead, displaced and broken illusions.

Even from an economic point of view.

“Spring was crushed” are the four words with which Yanis Varoufakis, a Greek parliamentarian and former finance minister of the country, begins the conversation.

No redemption.

“People risked their lives to overthrow the autocrats and get freedom, but also emancipation from the local oligarchs.

Tragically, shortly after toppling the old regime, the caciques succeeded in bringing new puppets back to power.

The economic sovereignty of the masses and political freedom was annihilated.

And the stagnation of the economy accelerated, ”he clarifies.

69% of employment in Arab nations is informal and the latest Arab Barometer (July) shows that more than half of those surveyed (23,000 people) in seven countries (Iraq, Tunisia, Libya, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Morocco) they agree that their nation needs a leader who can "break the rules" if necessary to "make things better."

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The president of Tunisia responds to the boycott at the polls with a wave of arrests

Twelve years after fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia on December 17, 2010, because an official confiscated his car, and although protests later raged from his city, Sidi Bouzid, to the entire country , nothing advances in the Arab countries.

The hurricane stopped.

Tunisia, where the changes seemed to take root, was a disappointment.

Economic growth slowed after the “transition” to democracy.

During the decade prior to the overthrow of dictator Ben Ali, GDP grew at an average of 3.3%.

Between 2012 and 2019 it fell to 1.1%.

The pandemic reduced tourism revenue.

But first, the 2015 terrorist attack in Sousse devastated the industry.

Profits fell by a third.

Corruption plus horrible economic performance.

The Islamist party Ennahda fell out of favor.

And Tunisians elected Kais Said and supported his authoritarian move to suspend Parliament in July 2021. Since then, he has ruled by decree and has led the North African country into the most serious unrest since the Arab Spring over his continued attack on illegal immigration. of sub-Saharans, whom he has described as "hordes" and has held them responsible for the violence in the country.

The public reacted at the beginning of March with unprecedented demonstrations in a direct challenge to Said.

We see another image.

The economy.

“Short-term Eurobonds offer yields ranging from 32% to 22%.

It is a high-risk nation, but it gives very high rewards”, reflects Carlos de Sousa, manager of Vontobel.

Although, for the moment, they maintain liquidity despite the fact that the sovereign debt has the CCC rating.

The case of Egypt

In Egypt, the uprising took place between January 25 and February 11, 2011. The long reign of Hosni Mubarak ended.

But the economy is drowning under the gaze of the ancient Egyptian dynasties.

"In the last decade, although it has achieved a reasonable average growth of 5% of GDP before the crisis, it accumulates large economic imbalances," warns Mali Chivakul, economist at J. Safra Sarasin Sustainable AM.

"Public debt has gone from 73% of GDP in 2012 to 89% in 2021."

And in January inflation shot up to 26.5% and the currency sank.

The once-banned Muslim Brotherhood won the 2012 election. A year later, the military ousted the new president, Mohamed Morsi, who was jailed and died in 2019. Army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi succeeded him as president.

The economic model is —as opposed to Mubarak's neoliberalism— a return to the centralized and developmentalist state economy that trusts in its authority to establish its power and mobilize resources that generate rapid economic growth.

Their bonds yield between 12% and 13%.

Faced with such a high risk, it seeks, with the help of the IMF, new ways to cover its financing needs.

“In the countries of the Arab Spring it is difficult to foresee improvements in the short term.

Egypt and Tunisia are facing severe crises, in part because they are both heavily dependent on Ukraine and Russia for food," says Michael Robbins, director of the Arab Barometer and a researcher in the Department of Politics at Princeton University.

Another illusion.

Libya is fractured.


Following the 2011 assassination of satrap Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled for 42 years, the country has been divided between eastern and western factions.

In Algeria, The Economist describes, a new army-backed regime is less interested in rooting out corruption than in bringing bribery charges against its enemies.

A different nation.

Under the war.


By the end of the past decade, thousands of people had been killed and the land was divided between President Bashar al-Assad, Kurdish-led groups and Turkish-backed rebels.

In Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan got off to a good start after becoming prime minister in 2003. The economy grew on a construction boom, he advocated a “zero problem with neighbors” policy and membership of the European Union.

It didn't last long.

He suppressed the Spring.

In 2014, appointed president, he hoarded the powers of the prime minister.

And he was re-elected —after overcoming a coup attempt in July 2016— during 2018. He is now running for the May 14 elections.

“The country has a big problem with the costly devaluations of recent years.

Something that greatly affects the population and the State's ability to import”, highlights Haizam Amirah Fernández, principal investigator at the Elcano Royal Institute.

He also drags a great dependence on public employment.

The roots of a new revolution

It is on the ground and in the air.

She is nurtured by discontent.

A new Arab Spring.


Skyrocketing prices.




It is what the young prophets write on the walls of their streets.

"It is very likely that a new movement is coming," warns Michael Robbins, director of the Arab Barometer and a Princeton researcher.

The tension is real.

One of the areas with the most youth in the world controlled by a political gerontocracy.

Matches and gunpowder.

"Waves of frustration cannot be ruled out," says Haizam Amirah Fernández, principal investigator at the Elcano Royal Institute.

Perhaps because he lived very close to them, the voice of the Greek parliamentarian Yanis Varoufakis is full of sadness: "Although the objective conditions are ripe for another uprising,

the failure of the original Arab Spring weighs heavily on the people.

There is nothing like an extinguished hope to prevent the population from rising up for their rights and their freedom”.

Although we live in the unimaginable.

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Source: elparis

All business articles on 2023-03-21

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