The Arab spring is really,really, simple to understand when you strip away the politics and religion, it was a direct result of millions of empty stomachs. The worst drought ever recorded in the 10K years humans have been farming the fertile crescent caused 2 million Syrian farmers to surrender their land to the dustbowl and move into the already overcrowded cities seeking work. That was 2009-2011, severe drought had also occurred in Russia and Oz cutting their harvest in half for several years (2005-2009), 2010-11 grain prices skyrocketed in the ME and NA. There was a series of food riots in major cities such as Cairo and Aleppo in the lead up to the uprisings. The guy who very publicly self immolated in Libya in 2011 was credited with "sparking" the uprising, he was not demanding democracy, he was one of millions demanding bread for his family.