In less than ten days, Algeria and Sudan witnessed the removal of their heads of state, Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Omar Al-Bashir. Such significant events raise the question of whether a second Arab Spring is underway.
On one hand, the Sudanese are insisting that they want their country to be a civil state. They believe that if the military council remains in place, that will not resolve the issue. That is because Al-Bashir, who came to power in a coup, was a member of the army. After his departure, if the military council remains in control, that will raise fear among the Sudanese that what will happen is a remake of Al-Bashir’s regime.
The continuous peaceful protests forced the coup’s leader, Awad Ibn Auf, to step down hours after he toppled Al-Bashir. The way in which the situation is going shows that as the people have succeeded in leading the military council to orchestrate a coup against Al-Bashir, they will also likely force the council to change the authority into a civil state.
On the other hand, in Algeria, the situation is not that different. The Algerians also want the symbols of the regime to depart. After ousting Bouteflika, they want to do the same thing to Abdelkader Bensalah, who is currently in charge. Despite the fact that Bensalah promised to hold elections on 4 July, widespread protests are ongoing, which is a sign that they do not want to keep any member of the old system.
“Recent events in Algeria and Sudan suggest the core political grievances that launched the 2011 Arab Spring continue to inspire protests across the region. These are basic human demands that have universal appeal: the demand for dignity, social justice and accountable government,” Nader Hashemi, director of Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver, told me.
Hashemi added that what is clearly noticeable in the recent wave of demonstrations is the emphasis on a strategy of nonviolent resistance and the core demand of comprehensive regime change. “The protesters are incredibly politically aware and sophisticated. Removing a longstanding dictator is not enough. What the protesters are demanding is a comprehensive transfer of power from the old ruling elites to new political actors untainted by corruption and who are not connected to the authoritarian regime.”
The fact that the people in both countries are still insisting on achieving their entire goals suggests that they do not want to repeat the mistakes of other Arab countries who revolted in 2011. Learning from the mistakes of the past provided another vision of the Arab Spring that we are seeing today.
New wave of anger
The commitment that the youth of the Arab world have in reaching their goal and ending the oppression and tyranny they are living under highlights that the regimes do not understand the minds of the youth. When these regimes were there decades ago, they were used to seeing the people obey them. Even if they were fed up with the situation, they did not have the courage to stand up as they were fearful.
It is time for other regimes to understand that this new wave of anger amongst the youth who are demanding a change in their country is not going to stop in Algeria and Sudan. But rather, it will spread to other countries in the Middle East. This means that regimes who are continuing their oppressive rule should realise that what happened in Algeria and Sudan is also a signal for them. If they do not change their behaviour towards their people, there is no reason to justify that what happened in Algeria and Sudan will not reach them too. In other words, these regimes should wake up because it is almost inevitable that the wave will bring other regimes down too and the authoritarian rule in countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, from breaching human rights laws to imprisoning peaceful activists and silencing voices, might not last forever.
Hashemi pointed out that watching events in both countries, it is clear to him that the ruling elites in Sudan and Algeria have been shocked and confused by the protests. He noted that divisions have emerged within the ruling elites and the military over how to respond. “This has benefited the protesters who until now have demonstrated a unity of purpose and a clear commitment to stay in the street until their demands are met. The Egyptian scenario looms in the background,” he said. “I am referring to the policy of the Egyptian military, in response to massive street protests of removing the dictator, allowing civilians to come into power for a temporary period and then waiting for an opportunity to stage a military coup.”
The youth of the Arab world has once again succeeded in making their voices heard by accomplishing what previous generations have failed to do, which is a change that would hopefully guarantee the citizens pride and dignity.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.