Last year’s upheavals in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, as well as the violent uprising and foreign military intervention in Libya has forced many political pundits to concede that, in many cases, the longer an autocrat stays in power the shorter time it takes for his regime’s ouster. Whether it is the ongoing insurgency and looming civil war prospects in Syria; recurring political unrest in Bahrain; or frustration over slow pace of post-revolution reforms and continuation of status quo in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries; what is driving the people out on the streets, one year on, and forcing them to challenge the regimes that have ruled them for decades?
If you are confused as to why most of the ‘respected’ political analysts and the mainstream media is biased over reporting the facts behind the popular uprisings against these regimes and painting it as mere foreign intervention or imperialist designs, then this piece reveals the top 10 reasons behind the onset of ‘Arab Spring’ and its continuation despite the lapse of over a year.
REASON #1: INFLATION AND SHORTAGES
According to the dictionary, a general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money is known as inflation. The effects on the economy are varied and can be both positive and negative at the same time. However, the negative effects clearly outweigh the positive ones.
In the common man’s language, a spike in the prices of fuel can spiral the prices of almost all other items like food, transportation, electricity, rent, raw materials etc. and erode the purchasing power. While prices of the daily usage commodities go up immediately, the wages do not necessarily see an increase, both in the public and private sector, and a worker takes home the same amount of wages but less of value that can help him/her meet the expenses.
The situation gets worst when the shortfall between the income and expenses is further compounded by the lack of healthcare and education services, forcing people to cut back on expenses or borrow money to make ends meet. The other effect of inflation is on the borrowing rate of money that is often overlooked. Banks, which are not really poor and working-class friendly, do not lend money to the struggling people. As a result, the loan sharks come to fill the gap and lend money to the needy people on exorbitant rates. The desperate ones may just get the money they need but they fell into the trap of repaying higher interest rate as well as the amount of money borrowed.
It is true that governments are not always in the position to tackle inflation. However, it is inevitably the economic policies they adopt in short/long term that sees a hike in prices of goods and creates shortages. This dents the public trust and makes it hard for the policy makers to win the confidence of the masses. The governmental economic teams make announcements after announcements of containing the inflation but the effect does not trickle down to the general public and their patience wears down, eventually leading to street protests.
The cost of living keeps on rising that not only dents consumer confidence but also jolts the socio-economic plates. Due to reduced earnings and rising food and non-food items, a family that once enjoyed the middle class status will feel relegated to a lower economic level whereas the working class will be driven to the extent that it will not be able to cope with the day-to-day living expenses. As a result, there is social unrest, which can see street crime rates spiralling and an increase in corruption.
Flash Points: Unrest due to alarming double-digit inflation rates in places like Afghanistan (30.5%), India (11.7%), Iran (13.5%), Pakistan (13.6%), Yemen (12.2%) and many other countries around the world may escalate to full-scale uprising in the short term.