Arab Spring

Joshua Landis and Suzette Grillot discuss what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in Washington this week says about a possible shift in U.S./Middle East alliances. Many traditional U.S. allies are worried Washington might shift toward Iran and away from Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Later, Landis and Rebecca Cruise talk with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon Wood. He compares this decade’s uprisings in the Arab World to what he calls an “Atlantic Spring” that started in 1776.

John Trumbull's famous painting of the Founders presenting the Declaration of Independence to the Second Continental Congress.
Library of Congress

Beginning in 2010, a wave of revolutions swept the Middle East, removing rulers and establishing new regimes. Although the Arab Spring took place more than two centuries after the American Revolution, they occurred in similar social and political contexts.

“Before [the Arab Spring] there was an Atlantic Spring that began actually in 1776,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon Wood.

Suzette Grillot talks with Italian citizen and lawyer Katia Girotto about the outcome of European parliamentary elections, and how Italians feel about the elections' impact on the future of EU politics and economics.

Rebecca Cruise and Joshua Landis discuss television and social media in Lebanon with University of Balamand journalism department head Ramez Maluf. He says Beirut's position as a major entertainment production hub is controversial among conservatives and Arab intellectuals.

Samira Said / Wikimedia Commons

Media played a significant role in organizing the protests that spread like wildfire across the Middle East in 2011. But as Islamists put a stake in the ground and solidified their claim to Arab society and culture, Lebanon largely remained insulated from the effects of the Arab Spring.

What Makes Tunisia Different?

Jan 30, 2014

In a rare and historic development in the Arab world this week, an Islamist party stepped down as part of an orderly democratic transfer of power. It happened in Tunisia, the country that sparked the pro-democracy uprising three years ago that became the Arab Spring.

Tunisia has seen plenty of strife in the interim, including the assassination of two liberal political leaders. But while Tunisia’s neighbors, including Egypt and Libya, have slipped on the path to democracy, Tunisia just passed the most liberal constitution in the Arab world.

NPR's Andy Carvin used social media to confirm reports coming from the Arab Spring. The iPhone he used for his coverage is now a part of the American History Museum.

Glen Carey

Kelly McEvers spent three years based in Baghdad and Beirut covering the Middle East for NPR. She started her assignment with instructions not to miss a day in Iraq as the 2011 U.S. troop withdrawal deadline approached.

“Then in late 2010, a guy set himself on fire in Tunisia, and everything changed,” McEvers told KGOU’s World Views host Suzette Grillot. “I was swept up with millions of other people in this thing called the Arab Spring.”

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

NPR assigned correspondent Kelly McEvers to Iraq in 2010 with instructions not to miss a day ahead of the expected troop withdrawal by the end of 2011.

“Then in late 2010, a young man in Tunisia set himself on fire, and literally changed everything,” McEvers says. “At first I was watching it on TV in Baghdad, sitting there thinking, ‘Do we really have to stay in Baghdad? C’mon, you know? Put me in coach!’ asking to be sent out on the stories.”

Over the past 11 months, the Zaatari refugee camp in Northern Jordan has hosted hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing that country’s civil war.

Suzette Grillot and Rebecca Cruise visited the camp in early June, and witnessed some of the newest arrivals.

Real-time updates on social media are revolutionizing traditional journalism. By following Twitter feeds and other forms of social media, journalists like NPR Senior Strategist Andy Carvin now identify breaking news faster and do a better job following international stories.

Ammar Abd Rabbo / Flickr

Real-time updates on social media are revolutionizing traditional journalism. By following Twitter feeds and other forms of social media, journalists like NPR Senior Strategist Andy Carvin now identify breaking news faster and do a better job following international stories.

“Crowdsourcing is basically just a fancy term for asking for help from the public,” Carvin says. “It's something journalists have always done at various points, but now social media has made it easy to engage people all over the world.”

Carvin calls himself an “informational DJ.” He has used crowdsourcing to cover stories ranging from the Newtown, Connecticut shooting to the Arab Spring.