Does spring in "Arab Spring" refer to the season - or something else?
According to this news article, the term is a reference to older revolutions:
The Prague Spring was a revolution in Czechoslovakia, which began in January of 1968. It was "Spring" because it included a series of reforms (where Spring is known as the season of new beginnings). The name of this revolution has also influenced the naming of others:
In this case Winter (or perhaps ice and snow) is being used implicity as a metaphor for a society ruled by opression with little freedom. Thus "Spring" is indicating that the opression is melting away like the ice thawing in Spring.
As simchona correctly indicates, the metaphor was first used to describe the brief period of reforms tried out by Czechoslovakia. It was particularly apt in their case, because, like the real season, it came for a while then went away (thanks to Soviet tanks). Note that they even had their own self-immolating martyr.
Hopefully in the Arab's case, the Arab Spring will instead move on to a long summer. Inshallah