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Bernard Haykel: What happens next in the Middle East?

It was another week of watching often bloody civilian revolt in the Middle East. What’s happening now is historic, and what happens next may be even more significant.

It’s been called the “Arab Spring,” but revolutions are never predictable. Will Egypt’s military allow for a smooth transition to democracy? And how will the uprisings in Libya, Yemen and elsewhere be resolved?

To get some answers, Need to Know’s Alison Stewart spoke with Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. They talked about the competing forces at play in the region — from the role of al Qaeda to the future of Saudi Arabia — and, of course, the instability in Libya.

Haykel told Need to Know that the world has a responsibility to promote political dignity and good governance in the Middle East, or “remain hostage to the pathologies of this region, which provide ample opportunity for al Qaeda to reassert its narrative and influence.”

For more on the uprising in Libya, see our live blog, which includes daily reporting, eyewitness accounts and video from the ground.



  • Guest 5

    The key matter in all these revolutions or uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, and now Libya, is to ensure that the people of those individual nations decide what’s best for them and are supported from the outside only if they ask for support and on whatever conditions they wish to impose.
    We also have to face the facts that a) there has been a slight change in media spin by referring to these nations as Arab nations as opposed to Islamic nations. b) It does however remain a fact that the majority young or old are Muslims.
    Malaysia, Indonesia, and Turkey are all examples of majority Muslim populations with perfectly acceptable governments and more importantly reasonable i.e. non extreme applications of sharia laws which all do not allow violence to support the faith or further it. Iran is the exception.
    There is no need as America had done in the past, until Obama became President, to see the Islamic faith and or Muslims as the current version of the early 1960′s of the red under the bed. Only a relatively small extremist part of Islam believers like Al Qaeda
    The basic things we should look for and help if possible is in looking to ensure justice and equal opportunity for all and a rejection of violence against other religions. After those are satisfied we have no need to worry ( or fear) about a moderate Arab or Islamic majority states with thier own kind of Governance and laws. Moderate Muslims hugely outnumber Al Qaeda and look alikes and if we do not interfere in the Middle East and let them do it themselves Al qaeda’s raison d’etre against the ” west” has a huge hole punched in it.
    Guest 5