“As the wider Middle East continues to be gripped by a relentless wave of extremist terror, Israelis and Palestinians have an opportunity to restore hope to a region torn apart by intolerance and cruelty.” —Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General
Fear trumps fact in American presidential primaries. This is mostly domestic emotional exhibitionism at this stage, and not genuine foreign policy-making, so we should just enjoy the show and not worry about the nuttiness.
January 25 is probably the most meaningful moment to recall the Arab uprisings of 2011, because it captures the dynamics within Egypt that ultimately shape sentiments and events across much of the Arab World.
The main difference between the US and UN approaches is that the UN correctly focuses on addressing the underlying drivers of violent extremism and terrorism, while the US government tends to downplay or ignore those critical underlying causes.
Today as then, we have no idea how disgruntled citizens will transform their fears into political acts. But we probably do know that they will do this, so for stubborn Arab regimes, this is a much more dangerous citizenry than the one of 2011.
The best hope for the Middle East is for sensible and responsible people in all concerned lands, especially around the Gulf, to grasp the catastrophes that will engulf much of the region if current trends continue.
People who seek real insights into Arabs’ views and values, rather than the fantasy and racism that dominate much of the public discussion, would do well to read the extensive poll findings of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies.
We should honor the millions who have participated in the latest noble quest for dignity and democracy, and enhance their ability to succeed by better understanding why success has been so rare in the past century of stubborn Arab paternalism.
Arab public sentiments often go against the perceived realities about our region among both Arab governments and Western elites, both of whom would benefit from listening to ordinary Arab men and women more regularly.