Bob Axelrod: Welcome and good afternoon. I'm Bob Axelrod, Walgreen Professor for the Study of Human Understanding here in the Ford School and in the Department of Political Science. It's my pleasure to welcome you all here today on behalf of the International Policy Center at Ford and our co-sponsor today, The Center for the Middle East, Middle Eastern and North African Studies. And as -- we're pleased to Rami Khouri here today and I look forward to your talk very much but before we hear from him let me introduce Norman Bishara who will tell you a little bit more about our speaker. Norman is an Assistant Professor of Business Law and Ethics at the Ross School of Business. He has a master's degree in public policy from the Ford School and he's also chair of the Ford School Alumni Board. He holds a law degree from Cornell and he currently conducts research on cooperative governments, international legal reform, and business ethics in the developing world. He's also a project consultant with the Lebanese Transparency Association in Beirut where he co-authored the first Lebanese Code of Cooperative Governments. Norm, I give you the pleasure of introducing our speaker.
Norman Bishara: Thanks, Bob, and thanks, special thanks to of course the Center for Middle East and North African Studies and to the International Policy Center, Jan Svejnar, the Director who couldn't be here today but also special thanks to Zana Kwaiser who is on staff at the Center and who put together all of the details of Rami's visit from start to finish. We're lucky to have Rami Khouri here. He comes to us from Beirut by way of Boston which gives you a sense of how much he travels. He, if you can construe Rami's career and professional -- personal and professional lives you can sort of look at it in terms of a long journey. He grew up in Switzerland and the U.S. and Jordan. He now lives in Beirut. He is often in the U.S. He is affiliated with several universities and great policy schools, the Kennedy School, Fletcher -- the Fletcher School at Tufts, Syracuse's Maxwell School, as well as Harvard's Kennedy School. And University of Chicago's Harris School as well, I don't know if I mentioned that. But in practice he's still a journalist as he is by training. He holds two degrees, an undergraduate and a graduate degree from Syracuse University and as a journalist he still practices. He contributes at least two pieces per week in syndication. I don't know if you saw his most recent New York Times op ed piece but it is a must read. And- but many of you know him through that writing but you also know him through other outlets so you may have seen him on not only in the New York Times but you see him on various U.S. shows such as the Charlie Rose Show or you may recognize his voice for the Diane Rehm Show where is often contributing to the Friday news roundup in the International Section. But Rhami is a bit more than that. He is also the Director of the Issam Fares Center at the American University in Beirut and the Founding Director which really gives you a sense of how much influence he has there, not just in journalism but also as a policy maker in the region. In that sense, he often is seen as the voice of the Middle East translating really difficult and complex Middle East policy problems for audiences all over the world, particularly in the U.S. Not an easy task to stay impartial but to be still be candid and critical and yet very deeply respected. So we're very lucky to have him here today and I now turn over the mic to our guest, Rhami Khouri. Thank you.
[ Applause ]
Rhami Khouri: Thank you. Thank you very much Norm and Bob. Thank you for having me here. I'm delighted to be at the University of Michigan. I was trying to time my visit so I can catch a football game or a basketball game and it didn't work very well. They told me that there's a hockey game outdoors Saturday so I'm getting out of here tonight. So I'm into American sports but I'm not sure I could quite handle that but I will be back and watch a football game and congratulations for getting into a bowl game this year again. Your team, like mine, Syracuse, is on the up and up again, so the future is bright. I want to thank the International Policy Center and the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies for co-hosting this and particularly Norm Bishara and Zana Kwaiser for all their work and having this happen and I'm delighted to be here with old friends and family, cousins, and friends from high school days and acquaintances from over the years. And I'm, as Norm mentioned, I'm a journalist by background. I've spent about 40 years working in the Middle East, mostly -- totally in the Middle East. Working as a journalist, reporting, writing, analyzing, observing, trying to understand what's happening in the Middle East and I'm -- in late middle age I decided to try to gain some respectability and moved into academia so I'm masquerading as a semi-academic by running this policy institute at The American University of Beirut. But I'm really here to share with you my analyses and ideas that I generate from my journalistic work which primarily means going around the region, talking to people all over the Middle East, interacting with all kinds of people from all levels of society and all different kinds of countries, going to Iran, going to the Arab-Israeli conflict areas, Israel, Palestine, all over the region. I've traveled in the last 40 years and I've watched the development of the region from inside the Middle East in the last four decades or so and I'd like to share with you my analysis of what I believe is actually going on in terms of the new power equations that are emerging in our region which are woefully almost criminally underreported in this country. As those of you who follow the Middle East probably know that the American press is not very good at covering the realities of the Middle East. It tends to be superficial, biased, ideologically driven, emotionally exaggerated, and has many faults and I know this from working with many colleagues in the American media. And the American media does some excellent reporting but not on the Middle East, unfortunately, not on the Arab-Israeli conflict, not on the Arab World, and now, not on the Islamic world either. So I would like to try to possibly give you a more accurate view possibly, maybe a more complete view, a more nuanced view of what I believe is actually going on in the region. And I think there are some really very important things that are going on that have been going on for the last 20 years or so and that deserve much more I think accurate and dispassionate analysis. The area I'm talking about is essentially the Arab world mainly but what I'm saying also applies to a little bit to Turkey and Iran and Israel, in some cases, but I'm mainly talking about, about the Arab world at one level and other things, slightly broader perspective. But when you look at the Middle East, you essentially I believe have four players; the Arabs, the Israeli's, the Turks, and the Iranians. You also have -- those are the four indigenous players and you have external players. The United States is now engaged in two wars in the region, has 20 or 30 military bases all over the area and so the U.S. is a major player as well now. And some of the other foreign forces - the Europeans, the Russians, the Chinese - are there in economic terms, cultural terms, political, military, and different ways but essentially we're talking about Arabs, Turks, Iranians, and Israelis who interact to create the realities that are defining our region today. The first point I want to make is that all of the realities of our region, every dimension of life in the Middle East and certainly in the Arab world is in the process of significant and ongoing change. This is a region that is often portrayed in the Western and American media, is often portrayed as one-dimensional, as, you know, the Arabs are like that. The Muslims are like that. This is how they are and this is how we have to deal with them. The reality is that this region is neither monolithic in its behavior or attitudes or thinking nor is it static. It's constantly evolving. Every level of society and I would mention six; the citizen, this community, the society, the government, the country as a whole, the region of the Middle East, and the Middle East, and the world -- those six levels of analysis, every one of them is in the process of significant and ongoing change. All of these dimensions have been changing I believe most seriously since the end of the Cold War, about 20 years ago and I can see there's some people in this room, like me, old enough to remember the Cold War. And as you know, around 1990 when the Cold War ended there were a lot of changes around the world and there were a lot of changes triggered by the end of the Cold War in the Middle East except for really two major changes -- foreign military interventions didn't end and no democracy took place. No democrat-- no democratic transformation took place in the Middle East unlike much of the rest of the world. But the -- all the main aspects of life started to evolve because of the end of the Cold War, because of economic pressures, because some Arabs, Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with Israel. There were a combination of reasons why this region started to evolve more dynamically and what happened really in the early 1990's really started in the late, in the 1980's with the economic pressures and the -- which forced some governments to liberalize in the Arab world, not democratize but to liberalize, to open up and to allow their people more space to behave as normal people in politics, in economics, in culture, in arts, and the different aspects of life. What happened was that a whole series of forces were unleashed in Arab societies where people could express themselves a little bit more openly, be involved in civil society groups, maybe vote in an election, and speak out in the media more openly. And you had essentially the what I call the resumption of history happened in, around 1990 in the Arab World. That a region that had been frozen essentially politically and ideologically was frozen for half a century because of the Cold War and the Arab-Israeli conflict, in the early 90's started to evolve again. And forces that had always been there -- religious sentiment, tribal forces, private sector, civil society, democracy, women's movements, groups, socials, artists, students -- all of these things all existed in society but all had been suppressed by the lids that had been holding this region static, the lids of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the state building imperative, the Cold War, and the emergence of the Modern Arab Security State in the 1970's. All of these things, all of these things kept the region relatively static and as these lids came off one by one, the region resumed a normal evolutionary process where individuals and groups and all kinds of people in society started to behave like people do in a normal society to express themselves, to mobilize, to organize, to challenge authority, to express ideas, to work for change, to have a resumption of history, to have a normal historical process of change and transformation going on. And now we can see some -- a few things that we couldn't really see before very clearly. We could see them, they were under the surface but now they're up, out into the public. First of all, people are expressing what they feel in various ways, in the media and public opinion polls, occasionally in voting. They are expressing themselves more clearly. We can see the main players in society. Who are the actors now in Arab society and there is many of them. Religious groups, tribal groups, business groups, government people, political people, artists, cultural -- there are all kinds of people who are active in society and now you can see the actors. Before they were mostly suppressed unless they were authorized by the government and we can see the connections between different aspects of life, economic pressure, political pressure, ideological issues, environmental stress, all the different aspects of life within these countries. And then regional issues -- the Arab-Israeli conflict, relations with Iran, foreign armies coming at us. You can now see the connections between these. We see the stakes that are -- we, we know what's at stake now very clearly because people are expressing their concerns and there's a more active political, cultural, economic, and social dialog taking place in these societies. And therefore we have what I believe is a new configuration of power in the region which is, which I would summarize by basically saying there are three conglomerations of power, legitimacy, and authority that are now active and you can see these three groups in the shorthand that I call the market, the monarch, and the mosque. The market is the business sector, private enterprise, civil society -- all of these groups who work independently in society. The monarch is the political authority, whether it's a Republic or a Kingdom or an Emirate, it doesn't matter what's the form of government but the political authority with its multiple layers of security guards and military groups and police and armies and intelligence agencies. They have massive security complexes that now define the modern Arab security state and all of the people linked to the governing power in society. That's what I call the monarch for short. And the mosque is the religious, tribal, ethnic identities that, not the private sector, not the government, but these other groups in society that are extremely strong, are now much more organized and working openly. And between the market, the monarch, and the mosque, you now have three broad centers of power, legitimacy, and authority that represent huge sectors of society. They're not exactly evenly matched. In some places the government, the monarch, is dominant. In some cases, the market is dominant. In some cases, the mosque and the religious tribal groups are dominant. But these three are now creating, are engaged now in a process which I believe is historic and significant in this region and is still evolving which is a balance of power among three major power centers that provides an informal form of checks and balances and that provides also something else which I believe is the rebirth or maybe we can talk about the birth of politics in the Arab world. For the first time in modern history, we have serious contestation of power and legitimacy and authority among groups that are operating in public that are anchored in local society that have huge numbers of people that they represent that are seen to be legitimate, that are seen to be responsible, powerful, and credible actors in society, seen by their own people. And they are all, all of this is now happening in public. If you're in the Middle East, if you take the time to observe what's going on, you will see all of these things happening. And what I think is important for us to do is to understand what this means. I am -- the title of my talk is Rights, Respect, Resistance, and Righteousness: The New Middle East Power Equations. Rights, respect, resistance, and righteousness I believe are four words that capture some of the key themes that drive many of these actors as well as driving, as well as driving some of the foreign forces that intervene in our societies including the American government and army and the British and Europeans and, and, and many others. But first of all, I think we have to ask ourselves how did we get here? We got here by looking at -- we can understand how we got here by looking at a quick overview of the last 30 or 40 years and I would mention a few, I'll give you just 10 headline ideas about what forces or what criteria or conditions defined most of the Arab world for most of the last two or three generations. The first is that this is the only chronically and collectively non-Democratic region in the world. Nowhere in the Arab world do you have a credible, serious Democratic process at play and while after the end of the Cold War you had Democratic transformations in many parts of the world, we had none in the Arab world and this is an important factor. The second point is that most of the states in the Arab world in one way or another are weak states. They're, they're strong governments and the states exist and have been there for a while and will hang around for a while but they are getting weaker in many cases because the authority of the central government no longer dominates all of society as it used to 30 and 40 years ago. The third point is that the legitimacy of many of the governing powers in the Arab world is being slowly -- fraying at the edges. It's not disappearing. You still have strong, legitimate, central governments with huge armies, multiple security agencies, tremendous economic power, control of media resources and many other things. But the legitimacy of these institutions of the central power are fraying at the edges as many other people emerge in society and play the role that the government normally plays which is to provide people with security, with representation, with a sense of hope for the future, and a range of basic services whether it's water, education, jobs, or whatever it may be. So the legitimacy of many central government authorities and governments is fraying somewhat. The fourth point is that this is a region under tremendous demographic stress. They -- we now have about 350 million Arabs. In 1930 there was around 60 million, a massive growth, highest population growth rate in the world. 30, 40 years ago, the Arab world was mostly old people, middle age or old people, living in rural areas, poorly served in basic services. Today the Arab world is 65% urban, it's mostly urban. It's mostly young people about 65% to 68% of the Arab population is under the age of 30. And these are people whose basic needs are pretty well met now. The state building from the 1930's to the 1980's provided a very strong infrastructural base so most people in the Arab world, especially in cities and towns can walk to a hospital or clinic and walk to their school, can walk to a fresh water source, that basic services are there. It's a young, urban, well-served population or decently served population which is tremendously politically frustrated because it doesn't enjoy political rights to any significant degree and is increasingly concerned about environmental and economic stress and therefore you have this tremendous demographic pressure from within society which drives many of the forces that we're seeing. The fifth point is environmental stress. This is a region in which environmental management by the governments has been not very good, by and large, to the point now where we're starting to see in countries like Iraq and Syria and other places, environmental refugees, internally displaced environmental refugees who are moving simply because they can no longer live in their communities. The water has run out, the land is no good for farming, or other reasons and you're seeing this now in countries. And, you, in a recent poll done of young people by Gallup, it's about 18% of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 said that they expect to have to move their place of residence in the next five years because of environmental stress, only because of environmental factors, so environmental conditions are a big problem. Widening disparities is a problem that we are seeing all over the region, particularly in economic terms with small groups of very wealthy, well-serviced people and growing, growing numbers of people who are more, more poor. The seventh main thing we can see in the region is a tradition of foreign armies that keep coming into the region. The foreign armies, since the days of Napoleon, will rationalize and justify why they come into our region. The reality is from the receiving end in the Arab world most people are fed up with foreign armies. They don't think they should be coming at us regularly and they don't think they make things better but they make things worse. The eighth point is the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict which remains I believe the most important destabilizing and radicalizing force in the region. The Palestinian exile now is five or six years longer than the ancient Jewish Babylonian exile and the Palestinians in exile are now acting like the Babylonian exiles which is recreating the consciousness of a nation in exile and therefore a nation that will find its way back home and restore its national rights. The mentality of exile of the Palestinians into the third generation now in Palestine as in Babylon has created a psychological and a political condition which is redrawing the map of the Arab-Israeli conflict and you see in the behavior of groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, just two signs of a different attitude towards war or peace with Israel. So the Arab-Israeli conflict is a huge factor and the more it remains unresolved, the more problematic the region is. The ninth point I would say is a growing sense of injustice and double standards felt by many people in the region. And the injustices and double standards that more and more people in our region feel are anchored both in local exercise of power, how Arab governments and governments in the region are treating their own people in an unfair, inequitable, and sometimes brutal way. And also at injustices that we feel are coming from abroad, the double standards in the application of U.N. resolutions, access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, and the use of force for political change. Many complaints are made in our region routinely about the West but also about the Arabs and the Israelis, so this is a very common complaint. And number 10 point, I believe that is an important indicator of how we got here is that the rule of law, the application of the rule of law has been very erratic throughout the Arab world. There is rule of law but it's applied in an erratic and inconsistent way and has created a greater sense of indignity among ordinary Arabs who feel that what their governments are doing or what the power structures in the societies are doing is not fair to everybody. That most people don't have a fair chance to really advance in life and benefit from their education and their hard work, that the, the, the situation is skewed to help the small group of people who hold power while the majority of other people are disadvantaged. And this erratic application of the rule of law and equitable power distribution is a major point that has driven protest movements and activism around the Arab world, particularly Islamist movements who have become very strong and are critical of their own governments as they are critical of Israel and Western powers. But the main driving force of most of the Islamist movements in the modern period has been domestic imbalances, social inequity, abuse of power, corruption, unfair application of state assets, etcetera, etcetera. So those 10 points I think are the main ones as many, many others but I think they help explain why is it that this region is so turbulent and is so violent in many situations. And why is it in many cases why the governments and the power structures in many of our countries have responded to these stresses by becoming more autocratic and, and, and dominating society to a greater degree and not opening up and liberalizing as many other countries that are in the world after the end of the Cold War but rather tightening their controls. The consequences of these trends and other ones are pretty clear to see. There's a widespread fear and vulnerability among, a sense of fear and vulnerability among many people in the area. They feel that they're increasingly vulnerable. The economic stress, foreign armies, their own systems, their own security systems, criminal activity, environmental pressures, all kinds of reasons why people should be more and more concerned, particularly young people worried about getting a job and having an opportunity to live a decent life. And second consequence is that this is a region widely riddled with violence as a normal means of political expression. And the violence is practiced by three main groups; the governments and political structures of these region use violence against their own people or against neighbors, opposition groups and terror groups use violence, and foreign armies and invading forces use violence. And these three main groups have now created this cycle of violence which is a common vocabulary of political conduct throughout the Middle East. Third consequence is the fragmentation of the central power and authority that used to define the, most of the countries in this region. If you had come to the Middle East -- and this applies to Turkey, Iran, the Arab countries -- if you have come there in 1950 or 1960 you essentially had to deal with one central government which controlled everything, the military, the police, the economy, the media, the schools. They controlled everything. If you go to most Arab countries today, you have to, there is no one central authority that controls everything, even in government, even in countries where the government is very strong, like Jordan, like Turkey, like Morocco, where you have a strong, tough, credible, legitimate central government. But even there they don't have the control that they used to. People get their media information from other sources than the government. They get a lot of their services from the private sector and NGOs. A lot of people turn to non-government forces for even the representation of their very identity, whether they turn to Islamist groups or to tribal groups or to ethnic leaderships or private corporate groups, they, they don't necessarily turn to the government as the main group that represents them but there's other groups that compete for, for this kind of authority. You have therefore many new actors emerging in society, non-state actors is how they were traditionally called. But I would say that they were actually parallel-state actors. You have now groups like the Muslim brothers, like Hezbollah, like Hamas in Palestine, some of the big tribal federations and tribal organizations, some of the private sector corporations, even some big NGOs in some countries. You have a whole range of groups that now are active in society openly, publicly, legally. And they operate at a level in which they do similar services to what the governments used to do, including providing security, providing political representation, negotiating with foreign powers, and therefore you have a whole bunch of new actors who are not just non-state actors, they're parallel-state actors. We have a very strange phenomenon in the Arab world where we have multiple authorities and single sovereignties. So in Lebanon for instance you have Hezbollah and you have the government. In Palestine you have Hamas, you have Fatah. In Somalia, you have a whole range of different people. In Iraq, you have got all kinds of groups now emerging. So you have these multiple centers of power and authority and legitimacy and service delivery who coexist very easily. They're not fighting each other to take over. They're not necessarily -- it's not a zero sum game where only one group is going to emerge. That's how it used to be back in the 50's and 60's but now there's more sophistication, maybe just more weariness, whatever. But people now are much more nuanced about coexisting with different power structures and power authorities working alongside each other. And they sometimes share power as in the government in Lebanon. You have Hezbollah, you have the Hariri led March 14 groups, and they're part of the same government, half of which is aligned with Iran, half of which is aligned with the United States. So the Lebanese government is the first Iranian-American joint venture and political governance in the Arab world. But it exists and it works and people find it very natural. Similarly, in Palestine at one point, Hamas and Fatah were in a unity government and they split up. They'll come back at some point one day and you find this going on in Yemen and Somalia, in Egypt and every, all over the place. You find this process of different legitimate groups competing with each other but then coming together when they, when they, when they need to. Another trend or consequence of this is that you have now many different conflicts in the region, a region that used to be dominated and defined by the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Cold War and that was about it. Those were the two major conflicts. The Middle East now is defined by a wide range of conflicts internally within countries like Yemen, like Somalia, like Lebanon, like Palestine. Then you have problems in Iraq, obviously. Then you have conflicts between countries -- the Arab-Israeli conflict, tensions between Syria and Lebanon which now have eased but they come and go, tensions between Arab countries and Iran, and many of these internal conflicts as in Lebanon and Yemen and Palestine and Iraq are proxy battles for bigger conflicts between Iran and the United States and other groups. So you have a whole range of conflicts now that, that take place in the region and they've all come together in a kind of regional Cold War. So it's impossible now for somebody to go in as they used to try to do before to say, "Okay, we're going to try to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict." You can't solve the Arab-Israeli conflict unless you address Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria. There's many different tensions and conflicts that have to be addressed now collectively and this is part of the complexity of this region which comes about because we've had this process going on for decades and decades and decades. And again the Arab-Israeli conflict is the single most destabilizing and problematic reason for the degradation of the stability and security of the area. There's other reasons, it's not the only one, but it's the oldest and the most serious reason why you have all of these problems. Imagine if the Arab-Israeli conflict had been solved in 1975. Hamas and Hezbollah probably wouldn't exist. They came into existence in the early 80's, mainly as a response to Israeli occupation. The Iranian-Israeli tension probably wouldn't be there. So there's many reasons why you have a clear link between the continuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the security problems and pressures that you can see in many other parts of the region. Another important thing that, trend that we can see is as a, as a response to many of these developments, there is a new sense of kind of what I could call defiance. Some people talk of resistance but you have hundreds of millions of people in the Arab world and Iran. You have something like 500 million people. Out of those 500 million people, the vast majority in the last 25 or 30 years have asserted in public their political and personal views and worked actively to try to change conditions that they complain about. Whether it's their own domestic political hypocrisy, foreign intervention, Arab-Israeli wars, occupations, economic disparities, whatever is the reason of their complaint, what you have and I would say this is the single most important political development in our region in the last two generations is the end of docility. That huge numbers of people and I would say we're talking here of 2 to 400 million people, are no longer willing to acquiesce in the conditions that they have inherited of occupation, of foreign subjugation, of domestic inequity, political abuse, corruption, lack of democracy, fixed elections, the kinds of things that they've suffered internally and regionally and globally. And they're trying to do something about it and they -- and this is why you have all of these actors. Islamist movements, democracy movements, human rights movements, civil society groups, student groups, women's groups, professionals, lawyer's associations, there's all kinds of mechanisms that people have used including violent actions by small militants and terrorist groups, militia groups. There's all kinds of different groups during different things but the single common denominator I believe that's important for us is that there is no longer a docile, acquiescent population in the Arab-Islamic region of the Middle East that is willing to, to be docile in the face of its own subjugation or occupation or marginalization or pauperization. And this is what we're seeing I think in all of these groups that are much more active and much more dynamic in society. Another impact of all of these things has been the role of the United States is particularly important I think. The United States is the biggest international power and it is actively involved in the Middle East with its army, with its diplomacy, with its economic aid in many different ways. But the striking thing about the U.S. in the Middle East I believe is the fact that the vast majority of people in that region and I'm talking here of Arabs, Israelis, Turks, and Iranians, the vast majority neither respect nor fear the United States anymore. This is a strong statement, I know, but I think it is probably correct. And if you look at how the United States has behaved in the last, say, 15 years, this is a recent phenomenon. If you look at how the United States has behaved with the Arabs, with the Israelis, with the Turks, with the Iranians, threatening them, cajoling them, trying to buy them off. I know the recent, the most recent, yesterday the U.S. said its given up its attempt to get the Israelis to free settlements which they tried to do by pressure and they tried to do by buying them off and in neither case were they able to do it and the U.S. just backed away. They tried to pressure the Turks in different things but the Turks stood up to them, wouldn't let the Americans go into Iraq through Turkey. They've had sanctions and all kinds of threats against Iran and Syria which has just emboldened Iran and Syria and they've used all kinds of pressures and, and policies to get the Arabs to be compliant. And while many Arab governments have been compliant with the U.S., a lot of people in the Arab world have become much more defiant. And this is a very, very significant situation which I think needs to be studied much more carefully. I believe it is, it is fair to say that a majority of people in our region neither respect nor fear the United States. And this is a shock I think if you're an American citizen or the American government. If people neither fear you nor respect you, then you have virtually no influence and I think this is the situation the United States has found itself in. It's waged two wars and is quickly trying to get out of both of them. It's trying to use its diplomatic efforts and in no case has it had any significant success with the Israelis, with the Arabs, with the Iranians. It's a very serious problem for the United States and I think it is part of the bigger picture that I'm trying to draw which is in the old days, when all they had to do was deal with a bunch of Arab leaders, then the Arab countries did everything you wanted them to do. Or a non-democratic Iran or a non-democratic Turkey, it was very easy for you to just deal with these leaders and you, and everything was hunky dory, especially during the Cold War. The situation has changed radically, that large numbers of people in all of these societies including in Israel which is a very strong American ally, the Israelis will not be dictated to by the United States and they'll stand up to it and we just saw a very good example of it. And part of the reason for this I believe, I mentioned many different factors, environmental, political discontent, lack of democracy, foreign armies, occupations, etcetera, but I think that if there's a single reason within the region I would say that it is the pauperization of the region and the demographic transition. We're dealing with a region that is I said about 65% under the age of 30. This is a very young region and it's highly urbanized and like I said basic needs are met. People can walk to school and the health center. They're not starving. Nobody is dying of lack of vaccination. But they feel that their, their biological survival is not matched by a response to their basic need for human dignity and more importantly their sense of citizenship. What does it mean to be a citizen of a country? That you can vote in a non-rigged election, that you can make your voice heard, that you can hold your government accountable, that there can be a normal process of give and take in society. People have not felt that their citizenship rights have been exercised and they're responding to that but most of all I believe the single most important factor is the economic stress. And in the last 25, 30 years this has been one of the most important but understudied factors I believe in the entire transformation of this region. And I want to give you just two statistics. One is for the entire, for the entire Arab world -- this is World Bank data from last year -- if you take the 22 Arab countries and you look at the gross domestic product and constant prices, and constant prices, not those adjusted for inflation. In the decade of the 1980's, the per capita GDP which is a rough measure of average wealth, the per capita GDP in the 1980's averaged over that decade was $2671. In this decade from 2000 to 2009, that figure of $2671 after 20 years has dropped to $2557. This is adjusted per capita real income, real GDP per capita. And this is a shocking situation and this is for the entire Arab world. If you take away the oil states, the wealthy, and you take away-- and you leave just the poorer countries -- Egypt, Morocco, Sudan, etcetera, Yemen -- you are dealing with a region that has been poor for ma- a long time and continues to get poorer and this is one of the greatest problems. Let me give you one more, more dramatic example. If you take the country of Jordan, just one country, and you take that critical decade from the 19 mid-80's to the mid-90's which I believe is the critical decade which co- coincides with the economic stress on the Arab world in the mid-80's, the end of the Cold War, and then the transitional years after that. From 1985 to 1995, in one country, Jordan, which is a pretty normal country, it's not an oil state; it's not a completely desolate, poor state. It's a pretty normal place and those of you who know Jordan know that it's a nice place and it's pleasant and, and the people are dynamic and they're friendly. But between 1985 and 1995, if you take the gross domestic product per capita in Jordan and you just take those dinar figures which the government gives you and then you translate them into constant prices in U.S. dollars -- and the reason you have to do it in U.S. dollars is because most of what Jordan consumes, like most of the Arab world, is imported. Airplanes, fuel, furniture, computers, food, most of it is imported, so you have to denominate in dollars to see what is the actual real income or purchasing power of an average citizen. In that period between '85 and '95 in Jordan, the GDP per capita in constant U.S. dollars declined from $2244 to $908. It's an unbelievable drop. You don't hear these figures very much because people in the Middle East tend not to like to talk about this reality. But this is the reality that we're dealing with, whether it's at the micro level of the entire region or if it -- and if you take this same exercise and do it for any other country in the region you're going to get a similar range of views. And therefore you have a situation today where across the region -- and here I'm talking about only the Arab world, though, leaving out Israel, Iran, and Turkey for a moment. And across the Arab world, you have a huge, young population that is suffering this kind of economic stress with the environmental stress, with the domestic political constraints, with the regional tensions and frustrations of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with the international pressures of foreign armies and, and the perception that the U.N. and the world, the West, are applying double standards. When you put all of these things together, you end up with a population of mostly young, very frustrated and worried people. But more than just being frustrated and worried, we're dealing with a young population that in more and more cases is gradually detaching itself from the anchorage of its own society. And I think if you look at the most interesting data that I think we have today is a poll that was just done by the Gallup organization, a poll of youth in every single Arab country, aged 15 to 29. And the polling done by Gallup for a group in Qatar called Silatech which deals with transitions of young people from education to employment, the Arab youth's polling that has been done has given us some really important indications of the reality of young people who are the majority of people. But I think the youth's perceptions reflect the wider perceptions of all Arab society, showing the reality which is that you have serious pressures, concerns, vulnerabilities, fears, worries, serious ones, combined with powerful forces for self-confidence, hope for the future, a sense of security. And this is the reality of the Arab world which is so important to grasp. Why at the same time do you have evidence of violence, extremism, dysfunctional behavior, etcetera, etcetera, combined with this strong sense of stability? But let me just give you a few statistics from -- remember this is talking about young people in the entire Arab countries, 22 countries with nationally representative samples by Gallup. 90% of young people feel that they actually are free to express themselves. This is really important. They feel they have the freedom to speak, partly because of the new information technology -- internet, and cell phones and stuff. They can express themselves which people in my generation and before couldn't do so easily. They feel they are -- 65% roughly -- are satisfied with the freedoms in their life to do whatever they want which is quite significant, about two-thirds of them almost. There are positive elements like 86 percent, the overwhelming majority, feel that if they are in a moment of need, that they have people in their immediate environment, family, friends, cousins, neighbors, NGOs, charitable societies -- they have people who will help them immediately. That they feel, 86% feel that they have somebody who can immediately help them if they need something. Along -- then you have something like 88% to 90% feel that religion and family are important forces in their society or they can rely on those forces. So you have some strong indicators of a large number of young Arabs who are not desperate, who feel that they have protection. They have anchorage in society that they can turn to. It's not the government. It's mostly family, friends, religion, neighbors, etcetera, but though to be fair also about 70% or so say that they are content. They feel that their environment that they live in in their town or village or city, they're satisfied with it. It's not, you know, five-star luxury, but they're, they're satisfied. They think that their living in decent conditions. Yet, the negative aspects are equally striking. 30, 30% only feel that they can find good, affordable housing. They are worried about, they don't have -- they can't find affordable housing. They can't get married. They're particularly worried about housing as an impediment to leaving youth, childhood, and becoming adults. 30% on average across the region want to immigrate permanently, to go to another country. And this 30% is for the regional average. It goes up to 45% in some cases like Algeria and others. It goes up to 45% or more but 30 is the entire regional average. If one-third of your young people who are educated, who are the most productive element in your society, one-third of these people want to leave, that's a bad sign. And they would leave if they could but most of them can't. Nobody will take them. They won't get -- they can't get visas. You have a problem with confidence in the integrity of the central government. About 50 percent, 51% say that they have -- well, excuse me -- 51 and 53 because you have males and females are different. But they -- about 51 or 53% feel they have confidence in the central government. In other words, almost half of the young people have no confidence in their central government. Same thing for the judiciary, about 53% have confidence in the judiciary but 47% don't. Only 45% have confidence in the media. The young people have completely turned away from their mass media. They don't follow it. They don't -- they, they, they create their own media. This is one of the results of the youth study that we have just completed. Only 40% of young people in the Arab world believe that elections held in their country are honest. 60% feel that elections are a sham. These are very strong, clear, accurate, dispassionate indicators of societies in stress. And I've mentioned the main reasons that I think help us to understand how we got here. I think -- what, what, what, what we can see now is that there are many actors in societies, in our societies who are behaving in a way that represents their desire to change things, to address some of these problems and pressures. And again, there's a multitude of different actors. Each one is motivated by something else, religious groups, tribal sector, political, militant, and all kinds of groups but the reality is that they're all working at once and what you have for the first time is a dynamic situation of change and transformation in which these groups as I said coalesce into three broad categories; the monarchy, the mosque, and the market. And they give us a bit of a balancing act now which creates a little bit of stability. Now we have a stable system -- it, it's a dynamic but stable system but this is a transitional moment, this situation isn't going to last for a long time. And people are talking about the four R's that I mentioned. People are demanding their rights, they're demanding respect, and the respect they are demanding is from their own authorities as well as from foreigners. Whether it's Hamas demanding respect from Israel or Syria demanding respect from the United States or somebody demanding respect from somebody else, the respect is, the, the, the respect is probably the single greatest common denominator among all of these actors. It's an intangible element of being, of being treated fairly, being treated decently, of being allowed to behave as a human being and as a citizen. Not to be treated like an animal or a second-class person and this demand for respect is oriented to people's own governments and societies as well as foreign, foreign ones. So respect is, is incredibly important. Resistance is what many people say they are doing in the Arab world and Iran. Resisting forces that they believe threaten them whether it's Israeli forces occupying them or Americans or British army or Arab conservative forces or private sector dominating corporations, whatever. They have many accusations against many people. But resistance is the term that people use now and, and, and the Syrians and the Iranians and others are grouping themselves with a range of different organizations in our societies and they call themselves the Resistance and Deterrents Front. You, you may think this is crazy. You may like it. You may not like it. I have my own views. I'm not saying this is great or bad, I'm just saying this is how things are and this is how they see themselves and they feel that they're actually doing well, that their points are, they're making -- scoring points and holding their ground and forcing others to deal with them. And finally righteousness and righteousness is something that both the American army, the Israeli army, and Arab resistance forces claim. Righteousness is the common language of people who are active in trying to achieve their rights as citizens and claiming divine support. It's interesting that Israelis and Americans and Arabs and Turks and Iranians all speak in the same language. So I'll finish by just saying that when we -- this is a very quick, superficial overview trying to give you the complexity of these issues but in the final analysis what are we talking about? What are the issues? What are the problems? What does this tell us about Arab society and Middle Eastern society as a whole? It tells us that there's a range of issues that are now being contested. That the people of the region have put on the table, have put on the public agenda, and the issues are big sticker items. Statehood is a contested issue. The states of this region are not stable in many cases and are changing and people are looking at statehood and trying to fix it up. Sovereignty is an issue that many people are contesting, challenging. And many people feel that they're independent but they're not sovereign, that somebody else really tells them what to do. Nationhood is an issue that is up for grabs. People talk of the Islamic nation, of the Arab nation. They talk of their own countries. They talk of tribal allegiances. The idea of belonging to a bigger nation is very much discussed. The exercise of power and the legitimacy of governance and the two things go together. Power and governance and legitimacy are central themes of what is going on. The issue of identity -- people are expressing their multiple identities; religious, tribal, professional, political, ideological, social, cultural. All kinds of identities are now actively on the table. Citizenship rights -- what does it mean to be a citizen of a country? What are the limits to the power of the government to intervene in your life? Human development issues -- access to basic needs. As I said most basic needs are pro- are reasonably well met but now there's a growing concern particularly in environmental terms and in quality of education and jobs. Security and stability are important issues. A lot of societies are stable but they're not secure. There's bombings, there's foreign invasions, there's occupations, there's criminal activity, there's terrorism. There are all kinds of threats to security. And finally, relations with the rest of the world. We don't really know, we don't really know if a majority of Arabs wants to make war with Israel or wants to make peace with Israel. And we don't really know if a majority of Israelis wants to make war or peace with the Palestinians. We really don't know that. We have certain ideas but these are not clear. The relationships of the people of this region with foreign actors is very much imprecise, very vague and needs to be clarified. We don't know if the majority of people in the Arab world think the United States is their friend or they United States is a threat. We know that both views are there and we don't know really how many Arabs think Iran is right in doing what it's doing and how many Arabs fear Iran. There's different views. And there's views of governments and there's views of ordinary people and there's views of political groups in the Arab world as a range. All of these issues are now issues that are being publicly discussed. We have this very important historic transition taking place in the Arab world which is woefully underreported and not well understood I think internationally because people don't take the time to look into our society and to understand, well, what's going on at the community level. What's going on in the minds and hearts of ordinary people? Why are people violent? Why are they extremists? Why are they emotional? Why do they do what they do? And I think it's important for institutions like yours and ours and academics and journalists to make a greater effort to understand that we have in the Arab world and the Middle East a resumption of history and possibly a birth of politics. And this should be a meeting point for those of us like myself, certainly, and I hope many of you who believe that there shouldn't be hostility between Arabs and Americans. That the basic fundamental values or American society and of Arab-Islamic society are identical values. They focus on justice and equality and consent of the government, a majority of will and protecting minority rights, these sort of themes that are very common in the Islamist religious political discourse in our region and very common in the American public discourse. So this should be a much greater meeting ground between people in the Arab world and the wider Islamic Middle East and Israel and the United States and I think we have to make an effort to try to achieve that. But the first step to doing that is to understand more accurately what is actually happening on the ground and I hope that I've given you some insights into some of these issues. Thank you very much for being here.
[ Applause ]
Norman Bishara: Great. We have a, we have about 15, 20 minutes for the questions. If you are able, please come to the mic to be recorded onto the [inaudible] Questions, yes.
[ Silence ]
The picture you give concerning youth is the volatility, the volatility of the situation...
Rhami Khouri: Hold the mic up, yeah.
Okay. The volatility of the situation is best expressed in what the statistics you've given about the youth and it definitely is very much anchored in the pauperization of the society as a whole which the youth particularly. This does not fully apply to the Gulf region where the youth are undergoing also, I mean, from material that I work and I know of -- the youth itself is undergoing quite a lot of the issue of the need to voice.
Rhami Khouri: Of what?
To voice, to have a say and this is the beginning of that. Do you sense that sort of differentiation in the Arab world? I mean, the Gulf region is not exactly the same story that you have given in the other parts of the Arab world.
Rhami Khouri: That, that's right. And I didn't have enough time but the statistics are if you go to the Gallup report for Silatech, it's online. It's very, very important data and is differentiated into high income, middle income, low income countries. So for instance the desire to immigrate I said is 30% across the board on average. In the Gulf countries it's only about 5 or 6% because they're wealthy, they feel that their needs are met, there's no need to immigrate. They can get jobs automatically. And the non-oil countries, the poorer countries, it's 40% or higher so the average is 30. So there clearly is a differentiation. This is not a uniform region. There are big difference with -- and the differences are mainly based on income. You fi- you find that gender, there are some differences based on gender. There are some differences based on geographical location but it's income that is the main defining factor that creates differences in people's attitudes or behavior and people in the Gulf, you know, the Gulf region we have to be aware. I mean, they've only really been developing at a serious national level for probably two generations. I mean, it's only really since the 50's or 60's or even some of them even later than that with the oil boom that they really started developing on a national scale. Others, the Saudis and Kuwaitis from the 50's and -- but these are young countries and they've been so absorbed in a rapid process of state building and in many cases making a lot of money that they haven't paid attention to other issues. But I think we're now seeing among people in the Gulf and other places signs of a desire even among wealthy people that they want to manifest all of their human dimensions. To think, to speak, to read different opinions, to have a view on things, to have a debate, to have a discussion -- they shouldn't be prevented from doing these things so I think we're seeing signs of that but it's strongest in the, in the poorer countries, definitely.
Thanks for that very interesting talk, Rhami. I also have a question about the Gulf states. You had the model in which you described the monarch, the market, and the mosque as, as emerging in a, as an analog to a checks and balances system but in the Gulf I was thinking similar to the person [inaudible] that my, my perception is just who are they? Do they function more like the three pillars of, of, of the ruling coalition in a sense that the mosque legitimated the monarch and the monarchs relatives had a commanding role in the market. And so I was going to ask particularly on the, with respect to the relationship between the mosque and the monarch in the Gulf states, whether you see a significant changes over the past decade in the, you know, in the opinions of sort of ordinary, ordinary Muslims and the leaders of the clerical establishment. And whether you see that change as having locations for the political during those countries.
Rhami Khouri: Okay. Is this mic on? Can you hear it if I just speak like this?
Rhami Khouri: Is this for Homeland Security? No, I'm just joking.
[ Laughter ]
That's a joke. That was a joke if anybody from Homeland Security was listening.
The, the Gulf is very different, clearly, because of the wealth, the young age of these countries, the small size of them. I made a calculation a few years ago which was a little bit sort of me- not mean but a little sensitive. But I -- but I made a calculation. This was back in the s- in the 70's that in one small Gulf state which I will not mention that you could put the entire population of the indigenous natives on the fleet of one major international airline. And so you're not dealing with large populations. You're dealing with very small populations, very young countries actively involved in not just the state building but creating an identity. And you have great variations across the regions, there's no doubt about it. You take some Gulf countries like Kuwait and if you look at the election results or Bahrain you see the involvement of the powerful role of the monarchy, the political authority. You see the religious groups either aligned with the authority or in some cases more conservative than it and challenging it. Or involved in some Islamist political parties which you can see in places like Kuwait or Bahrain where you have some public politics. In other countries, you don't have public politics and you don't have any kind of public activism at a political level. It just doesn't exist in countries like Qatar, U.A.E., and Oman, there is no political infrastructure. But in Kuwait and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia to some extent, you see signs of this and it manifests itself through the Islamic groups and manifests itself through business groups, the private sector and through the ruling elite. So it varies a lot. There isn't one model. I just mentioned these three groups as the three broad conglomerations of power and legitimacy and authority that you can see in every, in every country.
[ Silence ]
Hello. Thanks for that talk. I'm wondering if you would have some idea of how much money from the U.S., you know, take all the money in all the military that's been there and how many Arabs has that money killed?
Rhami Khouri: How many what?
Arabs has that money killed?
Rhami Khouri: You could probably [technical difficulty]
[ Silence ]
It's hard to trace it back to any one country. You really have to spread the blame around, I think. Clearly there's a problem with Arab governments spending hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars on buying imported arms from the U.S., and the U.S. the importer-exporter, but Russia, the Europeans, everybody sells. And in the end when they feel a little threat, they feel threatened as recently we saw on the Wiki leaks, some Arab leaders worried about Iran, they go to the U.S. and they say, "Please, do the job for us." Or even they turn to the, they say, if the Israelis are going to do it, let them do it quickly. So I think there's a question about, you know, the armaments that have been bought from the U.S. and others, how much use are they. I think the question of how many people have died and who is responsible for that really has to be seen in the context of culpability that has to be shared by many people. I think the main ones would be the, the Arab governments and the Israeli government in terms of wars and active killings. You have to really look within the region. And the United States has a role, the British have a role. I mean, you can blame the British and the French for a lot of historical hangovers. The fact that we have all these tensions and conflicts is partly due to the historical legacy. So there's a lot of blame to go around but I think...
[Inaudible] say is within the last 10 years?
Rhami Khouri: Pardon?
Within the last 10 years.
Rhami Khouri: Well, in the last 10 years if you're talking about the war in Iraq and other things then you're probably talking of a couple of hundred thousand people possibly but who knows? I mean, this is contested. But a lot, I mean, a lot of people have been killed. I think that we, we really, we need to do these analyses very accurately and carefully. It's really important to make sure that when, if we do a calculation like that and say, "Okay, we can blame the U.S. for this amount of dead Arabs." If that can be done, it really needs to be done with great care. I couldn't possibly give you a figure right now. I mean, even the number of Iraqis that have been killed is disputed. The scholars who study these things keep having a different formula for how to calculate the number of people who have died and of those who died, how many can be blamed on Iraqi causes, other regional players? And if you talk about the Arab-Israeli conflict then where do you put the blame? On the Arab leaders, on Israel, on -- so it's very, very complicated. And I, I think, you know, one of our challenges is to understand the problems that have brought us here, to understand these forces. And that's what I tried to do a little bit. Say, "Well, here's a bunch of reasons how we got here." But I think we really have to focus on how to we get out of this mess and we get out of this mess I think by basically trying to apply the rule of law evenly for everybody, to have one standard of law and morality and that applies to U.N. resolutions. It applies to peaceful use of nuclear energy. It applies to security guarantees. It applies to national self-determination. I mean, in all of these areas, Arabs, Israelis, Iranians, Turks, Cypriots, Americans, everybody needs to feel that they are being treated according to a single, common standard of law and morality and that's not the case. And that's why we have all of these tensions. So I think it's really critical to understand the issues of how we got here and the waste of money and human deaths, etcetera. But not to get stuck in that and to try to figure out well how do we prevent that from happening again? You know, you know, hundreds of thousands of people have died in the Middle East in the last two generations. So how do we reduce that death toll as we look ahead?
[ Technical difficulty ]
...some questions regarding Lebanon and the issues in Lebanon that could potentially influence the broader Middle East. The first question is regarding the Hariri assassination and the recent issues with the tribunal that have gotten even its neighbors talking including Israel. How do you see the, the tribunal affecting not only Lebanon but the broader Middle East, specifically, what are your predications on what, what, what the tribunal will discover and, and what are the effects of it? And then my second question is regarding Wiki leaks, a specific Wiki leak that came out last night about Saudi Arabia wanting to develop an Arab army to counter Hezbollah. Do you see that as feasible, number one? And number two, is that an, an inter-Arab conflict, a conflict between Iran and the Arabs, or a conflict between pro-Western and anti-Western forces in the region?
Rhami Khouri: Which was that last one?
[ Technical difficulty ]
...the Western forces in the region.
Rhami Khouri: The -- which country are you talking about? Lebanon or...
The, the, idea that Saudi Arabia wants to develop an Arab army and to...
Rhami Khouri: To fight Hezbollah. Okay, I just heard about that briefly. I haven't actually read the story. There's a lot of people in the Arab world who are critical of Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia hinted back in the 2006 war when Israel was fighting Hezbollah, the Saudis made a hint that Hezbollah shouldn't have done this, that they were critical of Hezbollah. And many people in the Arab world openly criticize Hezbollah now. You have to excuse my eating, I have a bit of an allergy so I'm, I'm not being disrespectful but I don't want to lose my voice. Though maybe if somebody wanted me to lose my voice but then... [laughter] -- too late. There's many people who are critical of Hezbollah. And, and this -- I said that you have this alignment of groups in this kind of new Cold War in the region with the Iranians, Syrians, Hezbollah, Hamas, nationalists, all kinds of groups on one side. On the other side you have conservative Arab groups, the U.S., Europeans, sometimes with Israel, different alignments of pro-Western forces in the Arab world who are critical of the Islamists, critical of Iran. They, they are now fighting each other in many different ways, sometimes actively militarily when there's a military fight like in Yemen or in Lebanon once or twice. But they do it mostly ideologically through the media, culturally, and diplomatically and in other ways. And, you know, if they -- I don't know if there's truth -- the report about the Saudis is true. It shouldn't be surprising. The Saudis have expressed their concerns about movements like Hezbollah. The Saudis have clearly expressed their concerns about what Iran is doing and we have, thanks to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, we have allowed what had been a low-intensity Shiite-Sunni theological tension and cultural tension to emerge into a full-blown public exercise of ethnic cleansing and, and, and barbarism on both sides. People in Iraq particularly but you see in other places killing each other just because they are Sunnis and Shiites. We never had this kind of level of conflict in the Arab world before. The tensions that were there between Sunnis and Shiites were, were, were of a different nature. And so this is just a reflection of this bigger problem that we have -- the Iranian influence with various Shiite Arab groups. But it's not just Shiites because Iran is close to Hamas and there's many Arabs who are not Shiites who like what Iran is doing so I think we've got to be very careful about the, you know, Saudi Hezbollah or Shiite-Sunni tension. They are much broader than that. I don't -- Hezbollah is a very strong group but it is not invincible. If, if, if people want to create armies to fight it and if you get a coalition of Arabs and, and Israelis and Americans and Westerners who want to fight Hezbollah, they can probably defeat it one day and there is a small number of people -- but the damage would be so enormous that it would set off a regional conflagration probably. So I don't think there's a military solution to the political reality that Hezbollah represents. Hezbollah represents a political reality which I alluded to briefly of this sense of defiance and, and of resistance that demands respect to achieve rights. And I think that co- that linear process of resistance and a sense of righteousness to achieve, to, to get respect to achieve your rights is what helps us understand a lot of what's going on in the Middle East. The answer I think, the better answer is to ask, well, what is Hezbollah trying to do? What does Hezbollah represent? And other groups like it in the region? What do the Iranians want? Not to just say these are bad people or they are evil people or they are terrorists or whatever or point out some statement they made in 1982 and say they are anti-Semites or they are anti this or they are anti that, say what do they want? By talking to them first of all and understanding what they want and then saying, "Okay, here's 10 things that they say they want." How many of those things are reasonable and legitimate? Is there an international consensus for what they are asking for or are they just outrageously crazy, violent people? I think that kind of exercise is much more useful to engage them in some kind of process that provides for all sides what I said before -- the application of a single standard of law and morality, for Iran, for Israel, for Hezbollah, for Saudi Arabia, for the U.S., for everybody. That's a much better way to try to address the issue than, you know, getting armies to attack people. And the cost of, of, of regional warfare now will be much, much higher than anything that we've seen before. The Lebanon tribunal issue is a very significant historical issue. It represents the culmination of tensions and pressures that I believe have been building up in the region for a couple of hundred years. The -- Hezbollah represents the, represents the high watermark of indigenous Islamic Arab nationalist resistance to Western intervention and the tribunal is a symbolic representation of a century of Western intervention in our region and the two are now clashing. The tribunal is a security council. Unanimous, legitimate resolution being implemented to find the killers of Hariri and hold them accountable in a fair court and the majority of Lebanese want that to happen. They don't want these killings to go on. But there are people who are critical of what the tribunal is doing. Hezbollah and others, they've raised serious objections so I think it's a -- you have to separate the political process from the legal process somehow. Holding people accountable to the rule of law needs to be done but it's got to be done on the basis of a convincing process of investigation, production of evidence, and holding a trial. There are serious complaints about whether this process up to now has been fair, transparent, and equitable and these complaints need to be addressed. They are serious complaints. You can't railroad this tribunal and just ram it down the throats of people. So I think this is a complicated process that needs to be separated from political and legal issues. It's also become a symbol of this wider regional Cold War. The Syrians and the, and Hezbollah believe that the tribunal and the investigation were designed from the beginning to, to get the Syrians and to get Hezbollah and therefore they are fighting back. So it's extremely complicated, very delicate moment. If it's not handled well, it could lead to again great problems, fighting in Lebanon which might spread to other places. The good news is that the Syrians and the Saudis, the two poles of Arab ideology, are working together very closely to minimize the potential for an explosion. They understand how serious it would be if it happened. They are working together very closely to minimize that and there's active engagement with the Iranians and the Lebanese and the Americans and everybody. So it's an extremely complicated situation. I believe that they will come up with a solution that allows for a reasonable implementation of justice...
Norman Bishara: Rhami, thank you so much but we're out of time. We appreciate your...
Rhami Khouri: Thank you. Thank you very much.
[ Applause - Inaudible ] - See more at: http://old.fordschool.umich.edu/events/calendar/234/#sthash.KysHYkBn.dpuf