7.) The Arab Spring
On December 18, 2010, Anti-government protests began in Tunisia. This was the match that lit the Arab Muslim world aflame. Those who believed that democracy was incompatible with Islam were given a rude awakening. All across the Middle East, several Arab Muslim nations saw the people take to the streets.
They were fighting and dying to be free. From 2010 through 2012, the protests continued.
After a 30 year reign, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was toppled from power in 2011 after reigning for 30 years. He was replaced by Mohammed Morsi, who tried to instill the Muslim Brotherhood and Sharia law across the nation. In a stunning turn of events, the resilient people of Egypt took to the streets again and toppled Morsi.
In mid-2013, Abdeh Fattah el-Sisi took over.
As in America, the people of Egypt have wide admiration and respect for their military. In some countries, the military enslaves the people.
The Egyptian military is seen as the good guys who protect the people from the police.
El-Sisi is determined to keep Egypt a secular nation. It is still a dictatorship, but it is not a religious theocracy. Progress on some rights has taken place.
In Libya in 2011, Moammar Khadafi was ousted after 42 years in power. The same cycle took place. The Muslim Brotherhood took over, and then secularists fought to try and overthrow them. Right now that struggle still continues.
Most of the Middle East nations that saw this violent change were without significant oil reserves. Nations that are rich in oil managed to maintain power by distributing just enough oil wealth to their citizens to remove incentives for unrest. Even this was not enough to totally keep the peace.
Under pressure, Saudi Arabia began relaxing some traditions. Saudi women in this decade were finally allowed to drive cars. Other nations including Yemen and Syria descended into civil wars that remain as violent and deadly as ever.
The one undemocratic Middle Eastern nation that escaped the consequences of the Arab Spring was Iran. The 2009 Green Revolution was quickly put down.
The Arab Spring represented the best chance in decades for democracy to take hold in the land of dictatorships.
However, this did not materialize. One main reason is the change in leadership, which will be discussed in another important news story this decade. Non-interventionists say that the Arab Spring is a work in progress, and that change must come from within.
Neocons insist that the Arab Spring was a missed opportunity and that only American military force will bring about the desired change.
What is not in dispute is that the Arab spring has completely upended traditional Middle Eastern geopolitical alliances. Wikileaks memos revealed that Saudi Arabia privately was more threatened by Iran than Israel.
Yet we did not need leaked memos to tell us this. In 2015 Saudi Arabia shocked the world by publicly giving Israel permission to use Saudi airspace to conduct military operations if necessary.
This would be necessary for only one reason, an Israeli strike on Iran.
Arab hatred in the Middle East by Wahhabists who gave the world Al Qaeda apparently is not solely about Israel. The Saudis know that while Israel has nuclear weapons, they have zero interest in using them. They also know that the Iranian mullahs absolutely will use them if they get them. The Saudis know who the real threat to the world is. In 2018, despite public denials, the Saudis followed through and allowed commercial flights from Israel to enter Saudi airspace.
The full series of ramifications from the Arab spring has not been felt yet. That could take another decade or even several decades. However, the Arab Spring itself was as big as it gets in terms of regional and global significance.