Listening to the Arab Call for “Even-Handed Sympathies” in the Middle East


al-mirazi.jpgA TWN reader just sent me this interesting article titled “Arab Journalist Knocks U.S. Credibility in the Mideast,” that ran in yesterday’s Daily Oregonian.
The title of the article aside, it’s a very interesting inventory of views of America’s Middle East mess as seen from an Arab perspective. Hafez Al-Mirazi, who was previously Washington Bureau Chief of Al Jazeera and now a senior correspondent in Cairo launching a new 24-hour news channel, Misr TV (and an occasional reader of The Washington Note), was speaking in a series organized by the Oregon World Affairs Council.
It’s important for Americans to do some listening — and to absorb some of the messages people like Al-Mirazi are transmitting.
Among the bullets that writer Ted Mahar garnered from Al-Mirazi’s talk were:

America will face crises in the Middle East for years to come, largely because it has acted un-American.
. . .”Iraq is much worse than it was before the U.S. invasion,” he said. U.S. mistakes included disbanding the Iraqi army, which has evolved into uncontrollable militias. Further, U.S. policies foment sectarian differences instead of seeking compromise.
Ending a dictator’s rule seems a hollow goal, “because there are so many dictators in the Arab world who are friends of the U.S.,” he said. With the Cold War over — and won — the U.S. should reject ties to any government leader not elected fairly.
. . .U.S. backing of Israel seems to be at the expense of Arab interests and will be an obstacle to order until truly even-handed sympathies are clear, he said.
“In the recent political debates, no Democrat said (the word) ‘Islam,’ while the Republicans competed to use anti-Islamic rhetoric,” he said. The administration, he said, has made the word “Islamic” an adjective used mainly with words like “terrorist,” “extremist,” “militant,” “radical” and anything but “religion.”

The short article is a good, quick snapshot of the staggeringly high antipathy in the Middle East towards America, and in my view, Al-Mirazi is smoothing out the edges and being very diplomatic.
But kudos to the Oregon World Affairs Council for hosting speakers like a senior journalist from Al Jazeera. More around the country need to avail themselves of similar opportunities.
— Steve Clemons
Editor’s Note: Thanks to BG for sending the Oregonian article link.


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