Demonstrators in Algeria, Yemen, Libya, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco, Syria, and other Arab nations staged similar protests with more mixed results. The events in Egypt also led to large, sympathetic demonstrations in largely non-Arab Iran. Relatively small protests in Algeria had little impact, but in Morocco King Muhammad VI offered concessions that led to constitutional changes that reduced his powers, and in Jordan peaceful protests led to promises of reform by King Abdullah II but did not result in significant immediate changes. Prodemocracy demonstrations in Bahrain were violently crushed in February and March with the help of Gulf Cooperation Council (mainly Saudi) forces and the protests acquired a sectarian cast as Bahrain's Sunni government focused on Shiites in the opposition.
In Yemen, Libya, and Syria, protests in early 2011 led to prolonged conflict that led to civil war. Yemen's President Saleh offered concessions and promised not to seek reelection, but rallies and then civil strife continued. Saleh himself was severely injured in an attack in June, and in December, after protracted and previously fruitless negotiations, an interim government that included opposition members was established. Subsequent events in the divided nation were eventually overtaken by a civil war brought on by the Houthis that began in 2015 and to some degree became a proxy war between Iran, which supported the Houthis, and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which supported the government and its sometime southern allies, respectively. In Libya, protests against Qaddafi beginning in Feb., 2011, soon became a revolution that, with protection from a UN-approved no-fly zone enforced by NATO and Arab aircraft, overthrew the longtime dictator in October. In the aftermath, however, tribal and other divisions ultimately plunged the country into civil war. Nationwide antigovernment protests in Syria in Mar., 2011, at first resulted in concessions, but persistent demonstrations were violently suppressed by Bashar al-Assad's security forces. Despite that, protests continued throughout 2011, and some security forces joined the protests and attacked government forces. Syria's unrest also had a sectarian component, with Sunnis dominant in the opposition to the Alawite-led government, and as the conflict there became an often brutal civil war in 2012, militant Sunni Islamists played a prominent role.
In general, the political changes were greatest in those nations ruled by authoritarian leaders rather than monarchs. Marked foremost by an opposition to repression and corruption, the events brought together a mix of prodemocracy and human-rights activists and Islamists—groups that overlapped to varying degrees—in most nations. Although moderate Islamists were prominent in many of the protests, more conservative Islamists emerged as a significant political force in Egypt in the post-uprising elections that took place in Dec., 2011–Jan., 2012. In mid-2013, however, the military ousted Egypt's elected Islamist president after a new round of antigovernment demonstrations.
See studies by R. Wright (2011), M. Lynch (2012; ed., 2014), L. Nouelhel and A. Warren (2012), T. Ramadan (2012), P. Danahar (2013), F. A. Gerges, ed. (2013), M. Muasher (2014), T. Cambanis (2015), R. F. Worth (2016), and D. D. Kirkpatrick (2018).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Middle Eastern History