The Arab Winter is a term for the resurgence of authoritarianism, absolute monarchies and Islamic extremism evolving in the aftermath of the Arab Spring protests in Arab countries. The term "Arab Winter" refers to the events across Arab League countries in the Mid-East and North Africa, including the Syrian Civil War, the Iraqi insurgency and the following civil war, the Egyptian Crisis, the Libyan Crisis and the Crisis in Yemen. Events referred to as the Arab Winter include those in Egypt that led to the removal of Mohamed Morsi and the seizure of power by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in an anti-Muslim Brotherhood campaign.
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According to scholars of the University of Warsaw, the Arab Spring fully devolved into the Arab Winter four years after its onset, in 2014. The Arab Winter is characterized by the emergence of multiple regional civil wars, mounting regional instability, economic and demographic decline of Arab countries, and ethno-religious sectarian strife. According to a study by the American University of Beirut, by the summer of 2014, the Arab Winter had resulted in nearly a quarter of a million deaths and millions of refugees. Perhaps the most significant event in the Arab Winter was the rise of the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which controlled large swathes of land in the region from 2014 to 2019.
The term "Arab Winter" refers to the events across Arab League countries in the Mid-East and North Africa, including the Syrian Civil War, the Iraqi insurgency and the following civil war, the Egyptian Crisis, the Libyan Crisis and the Crisis in Yemen. Events referred to as the Arab Winter include those in Egypt that led to the removal of Mohamed Morsi and the seizure of power by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in an anti-Muslim Brotherhood military coup. Political developments, particularly the restoration of authoritarianism and suppression of civil liberties in Egypt since July 3, 2013, have been described as constituting a "military winter" that functioned in opposition to the goals of the Arab Spring. Various militias and tribes have started fighting in Libya after a breakdown in negotiations. The arenas of Lebanon and Bahrain were also identified as areas of the Arab Winter. Libya was named as a scene of the Arab Winter, together with Syria, by Professor Sean Yom. The Northern Mali conflict was often described as part of the "Islamist Winter". Political changes which occurred in Tunisia, involving a change in government, as well as an ISIL insurgency, were also indicated by some as a possible "heading towards Arab Winter".[clarification needed]
Chinese professor Zhang Weiwei first predicted an "Arab Winter" in his June 2011 debate with Francis Fukuyama, who believed the movement might spread to China. "My understanding of the Middle East leads me to conclude that the west should not be too happy. It will bring enormous problems to American interest. It is called "Arab Spring" for now, and I guess it will soon turn to be the winter for the Middle East."
According to scholars of the University of Warsaw, the Arab Spring fully devolved into the Arab Winter four years after its onset. This view was also supported by Prof. James Y. Simms Jr. in his 2017 opinion article for the Richmond Times. In early 2016, The Economist marked the situation across Arab world countries as "worse than ever", marking it as the ongoing Arab Winter.
According to the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, as of January 2014, the cost of Arab Winter upheaval across the Arab World was some $800 billion USD. Some 16 million people in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon were expected to require humanitarian assistance in 2014.
Political columnist and commentator George Will reported that as of early 2017, over 30,000 lives had been lost in Libya, 220,000–320,000 had been killed in Syria and 4 million refugees had been produced by the Syrian Civil War alone.
The political turmoil and violence in the Middle East and North Africa resulted in massive population displacement in the region. As a result, "boat-people", which was once commonly referred to Vietnamese boat people, became frequently used, including internally displaced persons and asylum-seekers and refugees who had previously been residing in Libya, have headed towards the European Union. The attempts by some Libyans and Tunisians to seek safety from the violence by crossing the Mediterranean sea have triggered fears among European politicians and populations of arrivals that might "flood" their shores. This has spurred a flurry of legislative activity and patrolling of the waters to manage arrivals.
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- RT – Flames, Fury & Frustration: Arab Spring spins into Arab Winter?
- RT – CrossTalk: Arab Winter?
- Arirang News – Prime Talk: Are we approaching an Arab Winter? Jang Ji-hyang, Asan Institute for Policy Studies
- VICE – Arab Winter: Syrian refugees in Lebanon Bekaa Valley
- Dimitar Mihaylov – Why the Arab Spring Turned into Arab Winter: Understanding the Middle East Crises through Culture, Religion, and Literature