Democratic Aspirations since Jasmine

김경열 기자l승인2011.05.01l0호

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Tunisia’s revolution, also known as the “Jasmine Revolution” timeline

December, 2010
17th) Mohamed Bouazizi (Tunisian youth) attempts suicide by burning himself.
Mid) Demonstrations take place to protest the treatment of Mohamed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid. However, knowledge of these activities is limited by the Tunisian media. Words of the events spread mainly via social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. It comes out at that time that many youths have killed themselves due to financial difficulties.
27th) An increasing number of protesters arrive in the capital of Tunis. More than 1,000 citizens protest against the high unemployment rate.

January, 2011
4th) Mohamed Bouazizi dies.
8 - 10th) Bloody uprisings take place in response to the high unemployment rate and sharply rising prices for food in Kasserine, Thala, and Regueb. The government announces that 21 people have been killed, but labor unions announce more than 50 people have been killed during the riots.
14th) President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali dissolves his government and leaves for Saudi Arabia.
15 - 16th) The speaker of the house Fouad Mebazaa takes office as interim president. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi calls a meeting of the leaders of political parties and social communities to discuss an interim government.
17th) The interim government is announced. More demonstrations subsequently take place against members of the interim government who remain from former government.
27th) Ghannouchi announces that six members of the former government have left the interim government. Representative labour unions of Tunisia agree on and announce a new interim government.

February, 2011
25th) Mass demonstrations of more than one hundred thousand people are held against Ghannouchi remaining in the interim government in Tunis.
27th) Prime Minister Ghannouchi resigns.

Background and meaning of the Jasmine revolution
These demonstrations were caused by two factors; the high unemployment rate and the long-term dictatorship. In 2005, Tunisia’s total unemployment rate was 13.8% and the youth unemployment rate was 30.7%. Tunisia’s unemployment rate as of 2010 was still at 14%. Former President Ben Ali had been in power for nearly 23 years from 1987 to 2010.
Internet media like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs had a strong influence on the revolution. Slim Amamou, a popular Tunisian activist blogger, contributed to "fr.ReadWriteWeb.com" about the secret police and government censorship on the internet. He was arrested by the government. He and other arrested bloggers informed internet users and followers about their situations. This correspondence led to protests calling for their release from prison. It also served as a prime example of how the internet and social networking sites could be used to spread revolutions.

Egypt revolution timeline

January, 2011
25th) Mass uprisings take place in Cairo, Alexandria, and other cities in Egypt. The protesters demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. At least 10,000 protesters demonstrate in Tahrir Square, and about 20,000 protesters gather in Alexandria. The day is dubbed “Day of Revolt.”
28th) This day is referred to as “Anger Friday” or “Friday of Anger” several hundred thousand people demonstrate in Cairo. 700 people are arrested while protesters clash with police.
29th) Hosni Mubarak announces that he will disperse his cabinet and try to reform the politics, economy, and social issues being faced by the country.

February, 2011
1st) Mass demonstrations take place in several cities. A million-man march starts in Cairo. They go to the presidential palace from Tahrir Square. At the same time, one million people gather in Suez and two million people gather in Alexandria for demonstrations.
4th) Millions of protesters meet in front of the Heliopolis, the Egyptian presidential palace, for “Friday of Departure.” They call for the absolute resignation of President Honsi Mubarak. On February 3rd, tanks are deployed on Cairo’s streets. However, the army holds its fire.
11th) Mubarak announces that he will hand over his power in phases, but demonstrations continue. Mubarak resigns his office that night, and the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces is entrusted with the leadership of Egypt. After the handover, the armed forces announce that martial law will be in place until September and elections for a new government and President will take place by November, 2011.

Background and meaning of the Egyptian revolution
Egypt had also been suffering from a high unemployment rate. The total unemployment rate was 9.7% in 2010. This problem had not improved during the 30 years that Mubarak was in power. Dissatisfaction with emergency laws that were legislated in 1980 and have been in effect since 1981 is another reason for the anti-government demonstrations. The laws had been used to control the public and maintain the government’s power. They allowed police to arrest anyone without reason. In addition, they allowed for the torture of arrested people. This fact was exposed recently, and it made the demonstrations more violent. The Mubarak government was also highly corrupt. In December 2010, the government agreed to censor the media, and there were many questionable election issues. They received 3.1 points out of ten on the CPI (Corruption Perceptions Index) from TI (Transparency International), a global coalition against corruption, in 2010. It ranked 98th out of 178 countries. The Egyptian revolution was marked by some interesting features. At first, there were many clashes between protesters and police during the demonstrations, but there were few casualties compared to the scale of the clashes. Police controlled the disputes themselves, and the military arbitrated them. The military acted on their own, and in many cases they refused the government’s orders that included firing on protesters. Consequently the Mubarak government tried to solve the problems through meetings, and this led to less bloodshed.

The 2011 Libyan civil war timeline

February, 2011
15th) Libyan lawyer and human rights activist, Pathi Terbil who has represented over one thousand prisoners is killed by Libyan security forces after being imprisoned by the police. This leads to demonstrations in Benghazi. The 2011 Libyan protests stem from these demonstrations.
17th) A “Day of Rage" in Libya has been planned and spread via the internet and other methods. There are mass demonstrations in Benghazi, Al Bayda, and some other cities. Thousands of protesters gather to call for the resignation of President Gaddafi. On the other hand, pro-Gaddafi protesters also convene a meeting in Tripoli the capital of Libya. Gaddafi deploys foreign mercenaries and security forces, and they clash in Tripoli and at the city’s limits.
20th) Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi who is the second son of President Gaddafi admits the government’s error in suppressing the demonstrations in a nationally broadcast speech. However, he gives rebels a strict warning and announces that the government will continue the suppression of demonstrations. Some army units join the rebels after the government orders them to fire on rebels and protesters. The demonstrations lead to civil war.
21th) Anti-government demonstrations spread to Tripoli, and Gaddafi commands combat planes, helicopters and tanks to bomb and fire on rebels.
24th) Rebels capture the third city of Libya, Misrata and the western part of Tripoli, Zuwarah. Gaddafi makes a speech declaring that he will fight on against the rebels, and he distributes money to his supporters. Battles continue between government forces and rebels in the northwestern city Az Zawiyah which contains a major oilfield. Combat planes bombard a mosque which has been captured by the rebels. Switzerland announces the assets of Gaddafi and his close allies will be frozen.
26th) Gaddafi gives weapons to his supporters. On the other side, rebels in Misrata advertise for volunteer soldiers to do battle in Tripoli.


March, 2011
4th) Gaddafi deploys security forces on national boundaries and in cities to prevent refugees.
5th) Rebels set up a Libyan national council in Benghazi and argue that their council is the only legal representative of Libya. Five days later, the French government acknowledges their claim.
17th) The U.N. Security Council passes a resolution which allows for air strikes and military intervention against Gaddafi.
19th) Allied forces from the UN initiate operation “Odyssey Dawn.” The operation involves France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The forces bombard Gaddafi’s army which is deployed in Tripoli. The next day they initiate a ground attack.
28th) NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) assumes command of the operation.

April, 2011
1st) Rebels notify that they will accept the UN’s ceasefire suggestion, if Gaddafi’s army evacuates from major western cities.

Background and meaning of the Libyan civil war
Muammar Gaddafi had been in power for 42 years. The total unemployment rate of Libya has remained at 30% for several years. The starting point of the civil war, Benghazi, was also symbolic of the Gaddafi regime. He initiated a coup in that city, and he established his government. However, after the coup, he started a political purge in Benghazi, and he killed 1,200 political prisoners. Since that time, Benghazi has been a hub of anti-government movements.
The Libyan civil war is different from both the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. It turned into a civil war, and it brought the desire for democratization to the surface in the Middle East and Africa. The civil war influenced democratic movements in nearby countries.

Common features of democratic movements in the Middle East and Africa
The countries where demonstrations took place have several common features. The diffusion of education, high unemployment rates, long-term dictatorial governments, and the high distribution rate of SNS & internet are the most important. Tunisia has invested about 7.2% of its GDP on free education for students up to university. Libya has supported free education up to middle school. Egypt also provides basic education. Although there is a great deal of educated manpower, the youth unemployment rates of all three countries were about 30%. Even though these situations were very serious, the unemployment problems were not solved by the long-term governments and leaders. The leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya had been in power for at least 20 years, and corruption became a big issue. These problems were the initial causes of the demonstrations. The internet and SNS also inspired the movements. Some countries in the Middle East and North Africa had SNS utilization rates increase by more than 30 times from 2000 to 2010.

The 2010 - 2011 protests in the Middle East and North Africa should serve as a warning to dictatorial governments around the world. These activities should also serve as a reminder of the power of the public that had been forgotten since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the unification of Germany, and the democratization of Korea. These protests should not be viewed simply as events in far away countries. The events in the Middle East and Africa may have a powerful influence not only on the world economy but also relationships around the world. Citizens around the world should keep a watchful eye on the process of democratization and prepare for even bigger changes.


김경열 기자  baram590@ynu.ac.kr
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