Today marks a year since the revolution started in Egypt, which ultimately overthrew longtime dictator President Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak had implemented a series of emergency laws to maintain enforcement of a police state, including limiting gatherings in public to five people, imprisonment without holding a hearing and declaring subjects as enemies of the state in order to silence them.
Yesterday, the military leader in power, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, announced that a majority of these laws would be repealed. Most activists in Egypt look at this decision as merely a symbolic gesture, as they are still vocally upset about the military’s handling of power during the transition to democracy.
But Egypt is not the only country in this position, as the revolution a year ago sparked the Arab Spring, in which several Middle Eastern countries have made repeated calls for democracy. In Syria, dueling protests have been taking place in the capital, with one camp joyously supporting President Bashar Assad’s government, while protestors are being hunted by militiamen in back alleys. Revolutionaries in Libya, with some outside assistance, eventually overthrew Moammar Gaddafi, who ruled Libya with an iron fist for four decades.
How is the movement progressing across the region? What is the current political state of countries like Egypt, Syria, Yemen and others? Are the dreams of the revolutionaries being realized? Is the Arab Spring a success, a failure or is it too early to tell?
Steven A. Cook, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; Author of The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square (Oxford)
Qamar-ul Huda, Senior Program Officer, Religion and Peacemaking Center of Innovation, United States Institute of Peace (USIP); editor of "The Crescent and Dove: Critical Perspectives on Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam"