News / Middle East

Turmoil in Arab World Opening New Opportunities for the West?

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Susan Yackee

With all the turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East, it is a curious time for Western diplomacy. For some insights, VOA’s Susan Yackee turned to John Esposito, Director of the Prince Alwaleed ben Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. We asked him how the relationship between the Islamic world and the West is changing.

Esposito: The potential for the West and the Islamic world both to be moving in a positive direction, that is, for many Muslims in many of the countries where we have seen these popular uprisings, it can mean a life in a society that is far more open, democratic and in which people really have a say over their lives.

Listen to the interview with John Esposito:

For the West, it will mean, potentially, dealing with more independent allies but, after all, we do that with a lot of other countries. Whether it’s the U.S. dealing with France, which can be very independent, or with China or India. But I think that this is going to be part of what can emerge, namely that rulers are going to be able to operate like rulers in others countries – the way we do, they will operate in terms of national interests, and at times that will mean that they will be independent in terms of the decisions that they will make.

John Esposito
John Esposito


Yackee: Do we need to let the dust settle in the Middle East and North Africa before locking in on an effort of diplomacy?

Esposito: No. I certainly think that we need to let the dust settle before we can make the kinds of predictions that many people would like to make. But in terms of our diplomacy, this is a time to move. We have been supporting autocratic regimes in the region, and that has been a major source - the policies of those regimes and our support for them – for anti-Americanism. We now have an opportunity to, in most of these countries, position ourselves vis-à-vis our own principles, and that is – that we affirm peoples’ rights to self-determination and human rights.

Yackee: Will this be something that President Obama will do?

Esposito: I certainly hope that he will. I think that he has been positioning himself to do that and, as events have unfolded, the Administration can move away from what initially looked like an equivocating position – trying to walk on both sides of the street, and now to begin to move more constructively in support of these situations, and obviously, as governments come into place, to have American aid be primarily in [the areas] of economic and educational development, rather than as it has been in a number of those countries in the past, for military and security.

Yackee: What about military intervention on the part of the West?

Esposito: I don’t think that we should be doing that. I think that there are some arguments to be made symbolically and also maybe in reality that there may be occasions where we could be enforcing no-fly zones, but we certainly should not be thinking about putting troops on the ground.

Yackee: Once the dust does settle in the Middle East and North Africa, should the U.S. have a unique diplomatic plan for each nation or just have a general principle that applies to all?

Esposito: I think our principle has to be both. On the one hand, the general principle should be – and we have said this before – we support the notion of self-determination, popular sovereignty, human rights, etc. That is a generic thing. But then I think you have to deal with each country. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa can be as diverse as the differences between the U.S. and any of a fair number of European countries at the end of the day.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid