Skip to main content

Arab Spring: A Research & Study Guide * الربيع العربي: General Background

This guide lists online and print sources for what has become known as the "Arab Spring," the popular revolutionary wave in the Middle East and North Africa that started in December 2010.

Subject Headings (Search Terms in the online Catalog)

You can search the online Library Catalog to find books, journals (in print and digital), databases, DVDs, CDs and more in all campus libraries and beyond. It would be helpful to think about which search terms will be effective and structure a search that the Library tools can understand.  The following are examples of subject search terms (Subject Headings) used for this research topic:

  • Revolutions - Arab countries
  • Arab Spring, 2010-
  • Arab countries - History - Arab Spring, 2011
  • Arab countries - Politics and government - 21st century
  • Protest movements - Arab countries - 21st century
  • Revolutions - Arab countries - 21st century
  • Government, Resistance to - Arab countries - History - 21st century
  • Democratization - Middle East - History - 21st century
  • Egypt - History - 21st Century
  • Egypt - History - Revolution, 2011
  • Egypt - Politics and government - 21st century
  • Democratization - Egypt - 21st Century
  • Crises - Egypt - Politics and government - 21st century
  • Online social networks - Political aspects – Egypt
  • Social networks - Political aspects – Egypt
  • Twitter - Political aspects – Egypt
  • Tunisia - History - Revolution, 2011
  • Tunisia - Politics and Government - 21st Century
  • Protest movements - Tunisia - 21st Century
  • Democratization - Tunisia - 21st Century

 ... [For other countries, replace name in the samples above]

Help is available

Keyword Search Terms & Phrases

You can also start with a general keyword search. The following are suggested keyword search terms (may be also useful as Internet search terms and phrases)

  • “Arab Spring”
  • "Arab Spring" uprisings
  • Arab Awakening
  • Middle East unrest
  • Middle East uprising
  • Pro-Democracy Movements in the Middle East
  • Revolution in the Arab world
  • "Arabischer Frühling"
  • "Printemps arabe"

*"Arab Spring" in other languages and scripts: arab գարուն - আরব বসন্ত - 阿拉伯的春天 - printemps arabe - arabischer Frühling - αραβική άνοιξη - આરબ વસંત - ערבי האביב - Arab vor - अरब वसंत - アラブの春 - 아랍 봄 - arab rebbiegħa - بهار عرب - арабская весна - arab fjäder - அரபு வசந்த - అరబ్ వసంత - ฤดูใบไม้ผลิอาหรับ - арабська весна - عرب موسم بہار - gwanwyn Arabaidd - ראַבער קוואַל - Primavera araba.

Help is available

News Sources

E-Publications & Electronic Text Collections

You can browse or search the following by using keywords and general terms and phrases, as you would do with any Internet search:

  • Internet Archive
  • World Digital Library
  • Universal Digital Library Million Book Collection
  • National Security Archive (The National Security Archive is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University, the Archive collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The Archive also serves as a repository of government records on a wide range of topics pertaining to the national security, foreign, intelligence, and economic policies of the United States).
  • Women and the Arab Spring : joint hearing before the Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy, and Global Women's Issues and the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, first session, November 2, 2011.  (iii, 69 p.)
  • The Arab Spring and the Role of ICTs Editorial Introduction [International Journal of Communication]
  • Role of Social Media During the Arab Spring © 2011 Project on Information Technology and Political Islam.
  • The New Arab Revolt: What Happened, What It Means, and What Comes Next  (Ebook. Includes pieces from Foreign Affairs, ForeignAffairs.com, and CFR.org as well as speeches and primary source documents. Available in Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, iBook, PDF, and paperback versions. View entire book.)
  • The Economic Prospects of the 'Arab Spring': A Bumpy Road Ahead [PDF] / by Hassan Hakimian, Director of the London Middle East Institute and Reader, Economics Department, SOAS (Underscores the underlying importance of the economic conditions facing the new republics, such as Egypt and Tunisia, which are emerging as a result of the 'Arab Spring' in the Middle East and North Africa. His analysis suggests that they will face difficult challenges in trying to both bring about lasting transformations in the livelihoods of ordinary citizens and avoiding the burden of conditionalities likely to be linked to future external assistance and investment).
  • Rethinking the Arab "spring" : stability and security in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and the rest of the MENA region [PDF] / Anthony H. Cordesman. Washington, D.C. : Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2011. (No one can ignore the short-term problems the political upheavals in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia create for each country. New leaders must be chosen and security systems must be changed. The problems involved can kill political, economic and demographic reforms before they even begin. There is a serious danger, however, in focusing on short term needs and failing to focus on the depth of the problems that Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and virtually every other Middle Eastern and North African state now face).
  • Role of Arab militaries in popular uprisings / James M. Dorsey. Middle East Studies Online Journal - Download the full paper (PDF) The structure and role of the armed forces in Egypt and Tunisia made the relatively peaceful overthrow of autocratic rulers in both countries the exception in the Middle East and North Africa. Similarly the structure of the military helps explain the violence in Libya, Syria and Yemen. It foreshadows worse violence in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia should their regimes face similar uprisings.
  • The Arab Spring – Implications for British Policy. A Briefing Paper for the Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC) and Chatham House.  (October 2011; 64 pages).
  • The Arab Spring and Climate Change | Center for American Progress “The Arab Spring and Climate Change” does not argue that climate change caused the revolutions that have shaken the Arab world over the past two years. But the essays collected in this slim volume make a compelling case that the consequences of climate change are stressors that can ignite a volatile mix of underlying causes that erupt into revolution.
  • Turkey and the Arab Spring A briefing by Hannah Stuart for The Henry Jackson Society (October 2011; 15 pages).
  • An Arab springboard for EU foreign policy? [Arab springboard for European Union foreign policy] / Sven Biscop, Rosa Balfour and Michael Emerson, [editors]. Gent [Belgium] : Academia Press for Egmont--The Royal Institute for International Relations ; [Brussels, Belgium] :   CEPS ;  European Policy Centre, [January 2012].  93 p. The EU has not been perceived as reacting very rapidly or effectively to the so-called Arab Spring. Events do validate the underpinning idea of the European Security Strategy and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP): only where governments guarantee to their citizens security, prosperity, freedom and equality, can peace and stability last -- otherwise, people will revolt. But in practice, in its southern neighbourhood the EU has acted in precisely the opposite manner, so the Arab Spring is occurring in spite of rather than thanks to EU policy. The ENP stands at a crossroads therefore: can a new start be made? Which instruments and, in times of austerity, which means, can the EU apply to consolidate democratization? And, finally, can the EU continue to wage an ENP without addressing the hard security dimension, especially as the US seem to be withdrawing from crisis management in the region -- or shall it continue to leave that to others?
  • Social Media in the Arab World: Leading Up to the Uprisings of 2011. A report by Jeffrey Ghannam to the Center for International Media Assistance. (February 3, 2011; 45 pages) 
  • Revolution in the Arab World: The Long View / by Laleh Khalili, Jillian Schwedler, William Zartman, Gamal Eid. Research paper from the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University. "In Revolution in the Arab World: The Long View, CCAS presents recent analysis of the historical context and events making up the Arab Spring. Themes covered in this collection include the prospects Arab states have to institutionalize their achievements, the vulnerability of various Arab authoritarian states to uprisings similar to those in Tunisia and Egypt, and counter strategies authoritarian regimes are using to resist, contain, and co-opt the protests."
  • Life Begins After 25: Demography And Societal Timing Of Arab Spring  by Richard Cincotta, Foreign Policy Research Institute.
  • Human Rights Watch World Report 2012. With Introductory Chapter on the Arab Revolt. (January 2012; 690 pages). The introductory essay examines the Arab Spring, which has created an extraordinary opportunity for change. 
  • Time to Abandon the Autocrats and Embrace Rights The International Response to the Arab Spring / By Kenneth Roth (Introductory Chapter on the Arab Revolt. Human Rights Watch, January 2012).
  • Turkish model : Turkey's role in the Arab Spring / Soner Cagaptay. Quantico, Va. : Middle East Studies, Marine Corps University, 2012. Lecture held January 12, 2012, Gray Research Center, Marine Corps University. [PDF & Vid. Windows Media Player required.]
  • The Arab spring : is it a revolution? / Michael Emerson. Brussels : Centre for European Policy Studies, c2011. [103.78 KBDownload.]  In this Commentary, Michael Emerson continues the exercise he initiated in June of monitoring developments of the Arab Revolutions at six-month intervals. The scoreboard so far shows three outright regime changes (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya), with two more in the pipeline: Yemen experiencing a slow regime change of uncertain destination, and with Syria into its eight month of bloody repression. He notes that all of these have been republics, whereas the monarchies of the region (Morocco, Jordan and the six Gulf states) have been spared so far, all making concessions to head off uprisings, either monetary manna in the case of the petro-monarchies, or some tentative political concessions in the non-petro-monarchies. Qualitatively, his general observation is that the street has lost its fear, while by the same token the authoritarian leaderships themselves became fearful for their future, if not for their lives. "This Commentary also appears in the European Neighbourhood Watch, No. 77, December 2011."
  • Africa and the Arab spring : a new era of democratic expectations. (62 p. digital, PDF file)Washington, DC : Africa Center for Strategic Studies, 2011. Executive summary. -- A year of change. -- Africa's checkered democratic progress. -- Triggers and drivers: Africa's changing democratic expectations. -- Prospects for democratic transitions. -- Africa's changing governance equation. --  Recommendations. -- Conclusion. -- Notes. -- Working group members.
  • Egypt, Israel and the West in the wake of the Arab Spring  /  Svante E. Cornell and Natalie Verständig. Stockholm :  Institute for Security and Development Policy, 2011. "The Camp David Accords signed in 1979 by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin are often cited as a watershed event in the modern history of Israel-Arab relations. The accords initiated an era of cold, yet stable peace between the former adversaries which can broadly be described as little more than the absence of war. In 2011, over three decades later, the future of Israeli-Egyptian relations is unknown. Following the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak as a result of a popular uprising and the rise of Egypt's Islamist parties, those hoping for quiet on the Israel-Egypt border are increasingly concerned."
  • Turmoil in the Arab World  :   will democracy emerge from the "Arab Spring"? /  Roland Flamini.  Washington, D.C  :  CQ Press,  2011. Massive, largely peaceful demonstrations in January and February forced longtime autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt from power, including Hosni Mubarak, who had dominated Egypt for more than 30 years. Subsequently, protests erupted in at least a dozen other countries across the Arab world, several of which continue. Using social media to organize, young demonstrators have called for the removal of long-entrenched corrupt regimes, greater freedom and more jobs. They have been met with violent government crackdowns in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, while in Libya strongman Moammar Gadhafi is battling a ragtag rebel force backed by NATO. As the region reverberates with calls for change, scholars say some key questions must be answered: Will the region become more democratic or will Islamic fundamentalists take control? And will relations with the West and Israel suffer? Then on May 1, al Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan. Once, such news might have triggered anti-U.S. protests across the region. Now, it seemed, those bin Laden had tried to radicalize were more interested in jobs and freedom than in bin Laden's dream of a vast, new Muslin caliphate. Read the Full Report (Subscription Required)
  • One year of the Arab Spring : global and regional implications / Yoel Guzansky and Mark A. Heller, editors. Published: Tel Aviv : Institute for National Security Studies, 2012. (77 p.) : digital, PDF file . Collection of fifteen articles explores what is evident thus far as to the regional and international ramifications of the upheavals, with special reference to the potential ramifications for Israeli national security.
  • Popular protest in North Africa and the Middle East (IX) : dallying with reform in a divided Jordan.  Amman : International Crisis Group, 2012.
  • Revolution in the Arab World : the long view / Laleh Khalili, ... [et al.]. Washington, DC : Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, 2011.
  • Uderstanding the Resilience of Monarchy During the Arab Spring. By Sean L. Yom (April 2012) Over a year into the Arab Spring, a curious pattern has come to define the revolutionary wave that has swept the Middle East. It is presidents and colonels, not kings and princes, who have proven most vulnerable to social upheaval. Such outcomes have led many analysts to generalizeboldly: in an era of revolutionary turmoil, perhaps monarchical rule provides the safest path for autocratic perpetuity. After all, rumblings of discontent have not overthrown incumbents in any of the Arab kingdoms.
  • Comparing the Arab Revolts - Journal of Democracy Journal of Democracy October 2011, Volume 22, Number 4. Marc F. Plattner Lucan Way John Carey & Andrew Reynolds ... Comparing the Arab Revolts: The Lessons of 1989 / Comparing the Arab Revolts: The Role of the Military / Do New Democracies Support Democracy? Reluctant India
  • Middle East and North Africa: Year of rebellion: The state of human rights in the Middle East and North Africa[Amnesty International Report] 2011 was a year without precedent for the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa region. It was a year in which millions of people of all ages and backgrounds flooded on to the streets to demand change. Dubbed the “Arab Spring”, in fact the protests brought together in common cause people from many different communities. This report describes the events of this tumultuous year, one which saw much suffering and sadness but also spread hope within the region and beyond, to countries where other people face repression and everyday abuse of their human rights.
  • ‘Narrating the Arab Spring’ Conference Overview of the three-day conference, which took places at Cairo University from February 18-20.
  • An Arab spring / Marion Dixon. IN:  Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 38, No. 128, June 2011, pp. 309–316.
  • Winners and losers in the Arab Awakening / Svante E. Cornell and Natalie Verständig. Stockholm : Institute for Security and Development Policy, 2012. (3 p. PDF)  "On January 25, 2012, one year has passed since the protests began on Cairo's Tahrir Square. Events in the Middle East and North Africa over the past year have altered many previously held beliefs about the political dynamics of the region, and it is still difficult to assess the full meaning of the Arab awakening. But as the dust begins to settle, it is possible to perceive the direction in which these post-revolutionary states are headed. While in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, dictators have been deposed and in two of these states elections have been held, there is little progress toward true democracy. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Arab awakening has created winners and losers. Paradoxically, the losers include both the liberal forces who spearheaded the revolutions, and the deposed dictators; the winners are the Islamist forces, who contributed little to the overthrow of the old regimes but certainly are reaping the benefits of their demise"--Publisher's description.
  • Economic lessons from Iraq for countries of the Arab Spring  / Joseph Sassoon.  Washington, D.C. :  Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars,  2012. (7 p. PDF)  "One year after the revolution swept through a number of countries in the Arab world, we can begin to comprehend the factors that caused it. Overall, there is an understanding that these popular uprisings were caused equally by a rejection of authoritarian regimes and anger at economic injustice. While they were taking place, another Arab country, Iraq, was witnessing similar economic frustrations and anger at decision-makers' inability to solve the issues confronting the population. Yet, there were only a few demonstrations in Iraq--an outcome of the continuing traumatic violence that has enveloped the country since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Given that Iraqis have experienced relatively democratic elections, it would be instructive to analyze the economic lessons of an Arab country emerging from an authoritarian regime and to assess the pitfalls that other Arab countries might encounter with their nascent democracies. This article will focus mostly on Egypt and Tunisia, as the Syrian people are still battling against the tyranny of their autocratic regime"-- P. [1].
  •  Elements For A Scientific Analysis Of The Arab Revolutions In Spring 2011.
  • The economic agenda of the Islamist parties  /  Ibrahim Saif and Muhammad Abu Rumman. Washington, DC : Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2012. (28 p. PDF file) Islamist parties have gained newfound political power across the Arab world. Four parties in particular -- Tunisia's Ennahda, Egypt's Freedom and Justice Party, Morocco's Justice and Development Party, and Jordan's Islamic Action Front -- have either made a strong showing at the ballot box or are expected to in upcoming elections. Their successes have dredged up fears about their political and social ambitions, with worries ranging from the enforcement of sharia law to the implications for Western tourists on these countries' beaches. Meanwhile, the parties' economic platforms have largely been overlooked, despite the serious challenges that lie ahead for the economies of the Arab world. Economic realities in Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, and Jordan alike are quite difficult. These countries face high rates of poverty and unemployment, declining productivity and competitiveness, low levels of integration with the global economy, acute disparities between classes and regions, corruption, high domestic and foreign debt, and more. All of these challenges require radical changes in the existing order and far-sighted planning. The question, then, is whether the newly empowered Islamists can deliver the economic results their publics need. Each of these four parties has offered policies to overcome the key economic challenges facing their countries. The proposals, while ambitious, are far from revolutionary, and their programs vary in their level of detail and sophistication -- Ennahda, for instance, is by far the most thorough, while Jordan's Islamic Action Front is still struggling to develop detailed stances. The parties are generally quite pragmatic, asserting that the basic economic system will remain the same but seeking to dramatically improve the management of economic affairs. A number of key points can be discerned from the economic agendas of these four parties. They do not call for the nationalization of industries or the renationalization of privatized state-owned enterprises and demonstrate respect for private property rights. All of the parties welcome partnerships with the private sector to implement their proposed projects, particularly when it comes to public utilities and infrastructure. They consistently agree on the need to combat corruption, strengthen the foundations of good governance, eliminate financial and economic waste, and enact socially just policies. And all demonstrate a commitment to international economic agreements, with Morocco and Tunisia in particular focusing on relations with Europe.
  • Qatar and the Arab spring : support for Islamists and new anti-Syrian policy / Guido Steinberg.  Berlin, Germany : Stiftung Wissenchaft und Politik, 2012. 8 p.) :  digital, PDF file. The small but wealthy Gulf State of Qatar is striving to adopt a leading role in the Arab world, and has readjusted its foreign policy in the wake of the Arab Spring.  In doing so it has tried to stick to its former strategy of maintaining good relations with all countries that could be important to Qatar's survival, primarily the U.S. and Iran.  At the same time Doha (which until 2011 had mostly counted on the authoritarian status quo in the region) hopes to profit from the recent upheavals in the Arab world by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist opposition groups.  With regard to Syria, this policy is threatening to bring Qatar into conflict with its powerful neighbor Iran.  While Qatar publicly declared its support for the opposition early last summer, Iran wants to save Bashar al-Assad's regime and thereby ensure the survival of its main ally in the Middle East.  The Syrian crisis could risk destabilizing Qatar's traditional balancing act between the U.S. and its allies on the one hand and Iran and its allies on the other.
  • The Arab Spring Revisited Routledge articles published about the Arab Spring in the last year. What are the social impacts of the unrest? How have countries outside of the Middle East responded to the crisis? What are the implications for the region’s military and security?
    The latest content relevant to the Arab Spring has been selected for you to view, with the articles chosen spanning our Area Studies and Politics and International Relations portfolios.
  • After the Arab Uprisings: Women on Rights, Religion, and Rebuilding -- Final Report [Gallup has released a report on Women in the Arab world post Arab spring.] "After the Arab Uprisings: Women on Rights, Religion, and Rebuilding" examines ordinary citizens' views on the issues vital to rebuilding after the revolution. The report focuses on several countries that experienced upheaval in 2011, exploring the perspectives of women and men on the role of religious legislation, women's rights, life perceptions, and the economy. Download File MSG_Gender_Report_en-US_062212.pdf (1.9 MB)
  • Understanding the Middle East Uprisings. Mobilization's Special Issue on Arab Revolutions (edited by Charles Kurzman) Mobilization, Vol. 17, No. 4, December 2012, pp. 377-455.

Literature (Prose & Poetry)

Issue Guides & Bibliographies

Timelines and Maps

Public Opinion

Audiovisuals

Social Media & Networks

Web Archives