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Report: Simmering discontent may ‘sow seeds’ of second Arab Spring

Egyptian riot police arrest a protester in Cairo, Egypt, 5 March 2013 [Tareq al-Gabas/Apaimages]
Egyptian riot police arrest a protester in Cairo [Tareq al-Gabas/Apaimages, File photo]

Regimes in the Middle East are “sowing the seeds of a second Arab Spring” a report by the Financial Times (FT) warned. Simmering discontent over high unemployment rates, political repression, cuts to government subsidies, and the lack opportunities for aspiring graduates, is creating another perfect political storm that may trigger a more violent “Arab Spring”.

Experts interviewed in the report say that the only reason that there has not been another wide-scale uprising, similar to the one seen in 2011, is because of the unprecedented levels of repression in countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Where there is some degree of political freedom, protests have started to take root as they did before, pointing to demonstrations in Tunisia and Iran at the beginning of the year.

Worsening economic conditions and lack of political freedoms were cited by experts and protestors as the two main reasons for the growing levels of disillusionment felt by many across the Middle East. All blame their leaders for ignoring their demands for more equitable systems that deliver jobs, social freedoms and prosperity.

The same pent-up anger that was the catalyst for the 2011 uprisings in the region are still present, if not worse, and could trigger another convulsion in the region, says the report.

One expert interviewed by the FT said “failure of governments to fix broken systems that for decades combined oppression with state largesse to maintain stability”, was at the root of the problem. They also predicted the rise of groups that are more radical than Daesh.

“Unless you come up with a new discourse politically and economically then a new version of [Daesh] is going to emerge,” said Marwan Mu’asher to the FT. The former Jordanian foreign minister and vice-president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace added: “It [the fractures in society] is the biggest problem, and unfortunately very few leaders are paying attention to it”.

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