News / Middle East

Turmoil in Arab World Opening New Opportunities for the West?

Multimedia

Audio
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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid