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Arab Spring

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The Arab Spring reported and misreported
I was sceptical from an early stage about the Arab Spring uprisings leading to the replacement of authoritarian regimes by secular democracies. Optimistic forecasts I was hearing in the first heady months of 2011 sounded suspiciously similar to what I had heard in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban in 2001 and in Baghdad... Read More
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Arab Spring was always a misleading phrase, suggesting that what we were seeing was a peaceful transition from authoritarianism to democracy similar to that from communism in Eastern Europe. The misnomer implied an over-simplified view of the political ingredients that produced the protests and uprisings of 2011 and over-optimistic expectations about their outcome. Five years... Read More
Freedom and safety are scarce five years after the Arab Spring
I was planning to visit Baghdad last summer and stay with my friend Ammar al-Shahbander, who ran the local office of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I had stayed with him for 10 days in June 2014, just after Isis forces had captured Mosul and Tikrit and were advancing with alarming speed on... Read More
The Arab Spring model of protest, symbolised by Tahrir Square, is now destabilising democratically elected leaders
In the spring of 2011 I was in Benghazi, standing in a crowd of anti-Gaddafi demonstrators protesting outside the hotel of a visiting delegation. Most of the protesters were waving banners with slogans written in English in front of the cameras of foreign television companies, but, when I talked to them, many spoke only Arabic.... Read More
What a contrast between the optimism of the Arab Spring and the dark mood of today's Middle East
It was a year of decisions in the Middle East but what was being decided was mostly that conflicts would grow worse. What a contrast there is between the dark mood in the Arab world today and the optimism of three years ago when protesters appeared to be bowling over long-established police states from Bahrain... Read More
The sacking of journalists is seen as a way of keeping newsrooms timid and self-censored
A foreign journalist was driving on a road near the rebel-held city of Raqqa in north-east Syria confident that he was safe because he was travelling with a commander in the Free Syrian Army and militiamen. They were stopped at a checkpoint manned by al-Qa’ida-linked fighters who promptly kidnapped both the journalist and his FSA... Read More
A Year Later
A year ago the popular anger that grew into the Arab Spring was first ignited by an impoverished Tunisian fruit and vegetable seller, Mohamed Bouazizi, who set fire to himself after his cart, his sole means of feeding his family, was confiscated by police. Within days, pictures of protests in his home town sparked by... Read More
Now the Counter-Attacks
Is a counter-revolutionary tide beginning to favour the "strongmen" of the Arab world, whose regimes appeared a couple of months ago to be faltering under the impact of the Arab Awakening? From Libya to Bahrain and Syria to Yemen, leaders are clinging on to power despite intense pressure from pro-democracy protesters. And the counter-revolution has... Read More
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Patrick Cockburn
About Patrick Cockburn

Patrick Cockburn is the Middle East correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent. He was awarded the 2005 Martha Gellhorn prize for war reporting. His book on his years covering the war in Iraq, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (Verso) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction.


Personal Classics
Full Story of the Taliban's Amazing Jailbreak
"They Can't Even Protect Themselves, So What Can They Do For Me?"
"All Hell is Breaking Loose with Muqtada" Warlord: the Rise of Muqtada al-Sadr