Middle East advocate speaks on the Arab nations


This event was live-tweeted and some of the tweets posted have been utilized within the story. 

Dr. Shibley Telhami spoke at Ed Landreth Auditorium Wednesday night about the views and stigmatizations regarding the Arab nations.

During his lecture, he addressed multiple facets of the issue, including: America’s involvement in the Middle East after Sept. 11, 2001; the public cry for freedom involving the uprisings in the Arab Spring; and how the United States should address issues such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), commonly known as ISIS.

“Terrorism thrives when there is no central authority,” Telhami said. #FogelsonForum

— Tori Whitley (@victoriahart2) January 22, 2015

Telhami said the rise of groups such as al Qaeda and ISIL were partly influenced by the instability in Iraq after the killing of Saddam Hussein on Dec. 30, 2006.

Once the fifth president was killed, the country did not have a “central authority,” Telhami said, therefore creating the fall of the Iraqi State.

This created the opportunity for the terrorist group al Qaeda to come into power.

This sectarianism was direct outcome of the fall of the Iraqi state, Telhami said. #FogelsonForum

— Tori Whitley (@victoriahart2) January 22, 2015

According to Telhami, this also created “sectarianism” or a divide between two major groups of Islam: the Sunnis and the Shias.

However, these groups in the Arab nations are not as divided as some may think, Telhami said.

He conducted a survey in countries with a high population of Sunni Muslims, including Egypt, Morocco and Lebanon, asking them which foreign leader they admired the most.

An overwhelming majority of the people he asked in these countries mentioned a Shia leader, therefore disputing the perceived notion that Sunnis and Shias have intense discrimination between one another.

The American public wants to intervene because they see ISIL as an extension of al Qaeda, Telhami said. #FogelsonForum

— Tori Whitley (@victoriahart2) January 22, 2015

Telhami also addressed the United States current stance regarding foreign involvement with the most recent terrorist group ISIL, also referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, America was eager to fight back, resulting in the Iraq War, Telhami said.

However, in regards to foreign involvement with ISIL, the American public is not as eager.

According to a survey he conducted, 57 percent of Americans do not want to put “boots on the ground” in regards to ISIL.

This is because, he said, that we know how to “eradicate the problem,” but we fear, in time, that ISIL will come back.

“The public does not have much confidence to stay for the long haul,” Telhami said.

“Having a lot of angry people doesn’t translate into revolution,” Telhami. #FogelsonForum

— Tori Whitley (@victoriahart2) January 22, 2015

In regards to the Arab Spring, Telhami said he prefers to call it the “Arab Uprising” because this revolution is not “seasonal.”

However, he said that the issues regarding the “Arab Uprising” are not new.

“This was not new that the Arab public was angry at the government,” Telhami said.

What made this a revolution, he said, was the “Information Revolution” that occurred in the Arab world.

“The information revolution” promotes self empowerment, Telhami said. #FogelsonForum

— Tori Whitley (@victoriahart2) January 22, 2015

Technology, especially social media platforms boosted the Arab Spring into a full-on revolution.

Social media helped the public gained “empowerment to the individual,” Telhami said.

“And that empowerment is here to stay,” he said.

Even though there is anarchy, the old powers don’t go away, like: the military, corporations, rich people – Telhami. #FogelsonForum

— Tori Whitley (@victoriahart2) January 22, 2015

However, even though the public is empowered through the “Information Revolution,” old powers did not disappear entirely.

However, that does not mean that the voices of the Arab public are entirely silent, Telhami said.

“While people certainly don’t like anarchy,” he said, “they want their voices to be heard and not to move backward.”

Students attended the Fogelson forum with an interest the topic of the Arab nations.

“I was really blown away by his (Telhami’s) wealth of knowledge about the Middle East,” junior Bryan Tony, a political science major, said. “I do have some Middle Eastern heritage, so I try to keep up with it.”

Tony said that it is important to do more research on the Arab nations in order to form a less biased view of the countries as a whole.

“A lot of it is in the news right now, but there are still a low of misconceptions about the Middle East,” Tony said. “When we hear about terrorism and Islam, it is really important that we view those things in a less biased and more educated way.”

Live Tweets from the Forum: