LIANE HANSEN, Host:
We've invited Rami Khouri to the program to discuss the reaction in the Middle East. He's the director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut. He's on the phone from Amman, Jordan. Welcome back to the program.
M: Thank you. Glad to be with you.
HANSEN: Tell us what you've heard, in terms of the reaction in the region to the airstrikes in Libya.
M: What's important is the will of the Arab people by and large, I think, is now being asserted for the first time. And you're getting this convergence between what Arab governments are doing and what Arab people feel, which is very refreshing - and hallelujah, it's about time.
HANSEN: But how are the people responding to the difference in Western reaction to events in Libya, compared to the crackdowns on civilian protesters in places like Bahrain?
M: There's many factors that drive Western governments' foreign policies in the Middle East, and the overriding effect of that is massive inconsistency and very deep hypocrisy. But that's how the world works. We know that, and people aren't surprised by it. But I think people are happy that at least the West is using its arms to support the call for freedom by Arab citizens.
HANSEN: What about the governments in the more unstable regimes in the region? How is this playing into all of that?
M: They're not all being subjected to pressures to throw them out, but certainly to reform, to become more democratic and corruption to end - abusive power and police brutality, and intelligence penetration with all the institutions of society. They're all facing that same similar kind of pressure, and the people are winning. And this is very heartening.
HANSEN: What kind of coverage are you seeing in the Arab media?
M: I think there's no question that this regime has lost its legitimacy, has lost its support. And the majority of people of the Arab world and the media are expressing this very clearly. And probably, it'll trigger more serious reform efforts by some Arab governments. Because now, if this is a precedent, the lesson's clear - that if you use force too much against your own people, you're going to get whacked by the international community. And the other Arabs are going to support it.
HANSEN: Rami Khouri is the director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut, and he joined us from Amman, Jordan. Thank you so much, Rami.
M: Glad to be with you.
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