Syrian anti-regime protesters gather in al-Assy square [HO / Shaam News Network]
When analysing the events that led up to the Arab Spring, commentators are keen to point out that the uprisings did not occur in a vacuum but were the culmination of a series of events over the past decade, if not longer. In the book The Battle for the Arab Spring: Revolution, Counter-Revolution and the Making of a New Era authors Lin Noueihed and Alex Warren state that, “Far from being a sudden awakening, the Arab Spring capped a decade of protest, political action and media criticism that had laid the ground for more open political systems”.
One significant factor influencing the sentiment of Arabs during the Arab Spring was that this had been a decade of war in the Middle East. It was also a decade of increasing access to news, information and diverse opinions corresponding with the launch of the Al-Jazeera news network in 1996, followed by 24 hour broadcasting in 1999. While Al-Jazeera aimed to provide objective and balanced reporting, a sense of "Arabness" began to prevail as audiences across the Arab countries were exposed to world events and could see the conflict and change in the region.
With this exposure came solidarity and a perceived divide between the Arab world and their supporters, and the United States, Israel, United Kingdom and their supporters.
There is a great deal to say about the role of media in the Arab Spring but that will not be the focus of this series. Over the next couple of weeks I will focus on the decade of conflict that led up to and influenced sentiments in the Arab Spring. This four-part series will focus on the following four conflicts: