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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
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 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.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid