the revolutions that weren’t – yuri kozyrev

After the “Arab Spring” sparked off in Tunisia early 2011, inciting protests throughout the Arab world, I went on assignment for Time magazine to Cairo’s Tahrir Square where the Egyptians had gathered to claim more freedom and justice. Ever since, I regularly visited the countries that saw the “Arab Revolutions”, documenting the uprisings and their aftermaths in Bahrain, Yemen, Tunisia and especially Egypt and Libya. Much of the reportage on these world-changing events focuses on the common threads that run across the region: the youthfulness of the revolutionaries, their clever use of social medias, their (for the most part) non-violent protest as a political tool. However, crisscrossing the region I became conscious of the differences I encountered. The rebels in Benghazi and the protesters in Bahrain may both be fighting tyranny, but their approach and aspirations are not the same. I came to the conclusion that each revolution must be assessed in its own context. Each has a distinctive character and impact. The dramas unfold separately. Each place has its own heroes and its own crises. Each therefore demands its own narrative. In the end, the differences between the revolutions in the region may turn out to be more important than their similarities. The aftermath of a revolution is never pretty. Societies often awake from them in the midst of an administrative, political and social chaos, with dreams confronted to the harsh realities of turning ideologies into concrete results. The “Arab Spring” is just over one-year old and the outcome of this unprecedented popular drive for democracy and self-determination remains in doubt. – Yuri Kozyrev

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