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European Unionts Response to the Carab Springt not Driven by Self Interest (Essay Sample)


Write a 1,000 word essay on the topic: Has the response of the EU to the ‘Arab Spring', recent events in the Middle East, been primarily driven by self-interest? Your work must be fully referenced in the Harvard referencing style; Your work must include an abstract, introduction, body and conclusion; You must refer to recently published academic and medical journals, newspaper articles, economic data, and books when conducting your research; Your analysis should be written up to at least a 85% standard.


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Both violent and non-violent in nature, the political uprisings that were later to be referred to as the ‘Arab Spring' began in Tunisia in 2010 and swept through the Middle East and North Africa. Affected countries included Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Algeria, Bahrain, Syria, Morocco, Kuwait, and Jordan, among others. In general, they were a response to cumulative oppressive tendencies over the last few decades. Agitations in these states destabilized many governments with at least four of them being thrown out of power. The countries involved being neighbors and trade partners to the European Union and its member states; it was inevitable that EU responds appropriately. Although separate EU states responded differently and expressed some self-interest, as an umbrella body, EU remained impartial and quite cautious in its retort to the ‘Arab Spring'. Evidently, it was not driven by self-interest.
Originating in Tunisia and commencing on the 18th of December 2010, an upsurge of both violent and non-violent mass demonstrations, rebellions, and civil wars rocked the Arab world in the Middle East and North Africa. As expressed by Saikal (2011, 530), these happenings were spontaneous, widespread, and quite unpredictable. All of them were characterized by citizen agitation against oppressive governments and tyrannical political tendencies. Markedly, the countries involved had previously endured incessant repression and undemocratic policies which resulted in extensive socioeconomic inequality with wide unemployment gaps and extensive poverty trends. It was then inevitable that political changes long resisted by these governments get instituted (Maffucci-Hugel, & Taubner, 2012, 246). It was the series of demonstrations agitating for political transformation that came to be called the ‘Arab Spring'.
According to Ottaway (2010, 378), so volatile were these protests that they forced four governments out of power, ended in serious civil uprisings in two countries, and caused major demonstrations in six states with an equal number experiencing minor protests. Notably, related episodes still occurred in other locations across the world. Of the ousted governments, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen had single counts. However, Egypt had its government thrown out of power, reconstituted and ousted again. Other countries significantly involved included Algeria, Bahrain, Syria, Morocco, Kuwait, and Jordan among many. Compelled to react, the European Union (EU) initially approached the issue as a bystander. Despite the fact that EU has policies and codes of relations with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), it did not adopt a common united front in addressing the ‘Arab Spring'. Instead, individual states responded to separate parts of MENA as they deemed fit by distinct perspectives (Dadush & Dunne, 2011, 131 -132). The outcome of the whole situation was a circumstance whereby disparate cases of individual self-interest were expressed. However, the umbrella response of the EU was democratic and policy oriented rather than self-interest driven.
In an explorative analysis of the EU's response to the ‘Arab Spring', Schumacher (2011) presented a double ended scrutiny that presented the EU as spectator, as well as an actor responding in dissimilar ways. Most importantly, Schumacher managed to display the fact that no common approach of self-interest was adopted by EU. Yet, existent conflict between individual states and EU's overall common interest pointed to the states' quest for some self-interest. While, most governments took a wait-and-see perspective in the Tunisian case; probably for fear of falling out with the government in case it repulsed the uprising, France went ahead and supported the outrightly undemocratic administration. Through the foreign minister of the time, the French disciplined forces provided anti-riot expertise and crowd control strategies to the Tunisian security (Schumacher, 2011, 114). Even in Egypt, the French prime minister rallied other southern European states to support Mubarak's government. Nonetheless, Schumacher (2011, 115) explained that the prime minister and Egypt's Mubarak were personal friends to the extent that he had earlier on accepted gifts from Mubarak. As for the case of Libya, it is notable that EU responded with a unified consensus of non-cooperation from its members. However, even after this consensual declaration, Germany still refused to comply with the restriction of ‘no fly zones' over Libya (Teti, 2012, 266). To an extent, the declaration itself was relatively inconsequential as no other measures were adopted to compel democratization and upheaval of social equality in Libya (Teti, 2012, 268). Perhaps, the constant diversity in opinions of member states made the EU remain relatively silent even as oppression reached its peak in Syria. In similarity to Libya's case, countries like Germany, Estonia, and Cyprus expressed hesitations in adopting any sanction and conditional approach to Syria (Perthes, 211, 75). On the overall, it is easily identifiable that EU member states mostly took different approaches in responding to the ‘Arab Spring'. This was not the common position of the EU.
On the other hand, Teti (2012, 271) expounded that although the EU's initial approach was weak and disorganized, an assessment of policy related reactions and ideological approaches only indicated ideals of the EU rather than pursuit of self-interest. In the first policy establishment, EU emerged with the Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity (PfDSP). This was a totally new democracy based approach to partnership and development. The implication of its establishment was that EU funding of elections and other developmental issues in MENA would be dependent on civil, political, and socio-economic improvements, and shifts towards democracy. Notably, this policy could not be selectively applicable to some states. Richey (2013, 412) also noted that the upsurge of the ‘Arab Spring' increased migrations from MENA to various European states. In an affirmation of the EU's position in relation to expression of interest while responding to the ...
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