Bishops' consultant speaks on Libya and the Middle East

Dr Harry Hagopian

Dr Harry Hagopian

When does an anti-Government uprising become a Civil War? Can the rebels wage a proper united campaign? How will the West proceed in its dealings with Libya and the wider North Africa Middle East  region?

These are some of the issues discussed by Dr Harry Hagopian, The Bishops' Consultant on the Middle East. His reflections included the current situation in Libya, the issue of a no-fly zone over the country, assessed the serious uprisings in Yemen, Jordan and Bahrain. "People Power" has come to the fore, but where will this lead?

On people power...

"People have suddenly realised that there is something called 'people power' so every grievance that they've had over the last decades suddenly is coming out to the fore and people are saying it's time for us to go and demonstrate and right those wrongs."

On potential foreign intervention - a potential 'no-fly' zone over Libya...

"We in the West have had some very awkward moments in the Middle East and have seen that the result of any military action can actually be counter-productive for our interests - let alone the interests of the region as a whole. I caution people, I pray for wisdom and hope that before we become too gung ho about it we think a little bit more strategically rather than just react tactically."

On regional uprisings outside Libya...

"Libya is now the focal point of many of our thoughts so you forget that in Yemen there are serious uprisings taking place against the President. I think Yemen is in a very fragile state at the moment. Even in Bahrain and in a relatively calm, relaxed monarchical system like Jordan there are angry uprisings and demonstrations taking place. If you look at other countries like Iraq - [a country] we supposedly liberated from an autocrat some years ago - now if you go to places as far north as Kurdistan and as far south as Basra you see peoople who are demonstrating. These demonstrations are as much random as sporadic."

On future solidarity between Muslims and Christians...

"Much as I was happy with this coming together in Tahreer Square where Christians and Muslims - the Crescent and the Cross - where fighting together a common cause against injustice, I wouldn't want to see it backpedalling again, to a situation when minority communities - particularly Christian minority communities across the range of the Middle East North Africa would be subjugated again to the whims of a small group of fanatical extremists."

On future uprisings in the MENA region...

"If something happens in the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia, or if this goes even further, then it's not only a question of oil and regional security then we are redefining a whole vision of what the Middle East is or looks like."

To listen to the whole podcast click on:

To see the Middle East section of the Bishops' website go to:

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