Dorsey on Arab Movements and Impacts to Azerbaijan2011 December 02 ( Friday ) 18:35:19
James M. Dorsey is a veteran journalist and commentator on Middle East affairs for more than three decades. Over his career, he served as a foreign correspondent for others; The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and United Press International in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Central America and Washington DC. He was also followed closely the Arab uprising while being in the Middle East.
TURAN Washington DC correspondent asked Mr. Dorsey if the movements in the Arab World impacted the Western powers, such as US policy towards the oil-reach dictatorship countries.
Answer: The revolts in the Middle East and North Africa are genuine and local. They are the result of deep-seated dissatisfaction with autocratic regimes that did not deliver but that were supported by the US which was a way of maintaining stability in a key part of the world.
That worked for as long as it lasted. It allowed for governments to carry out unpopular domestic and foreign policies. That is no longer possible.
Governments, autocratic or not, will have to become more attentive to public opinion.
The international community has recently been very concerned about the situation with human rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan as well, What kind of conclusions do you think should the countries such as Azerbaijan, get from Egypt, Syria and others where freedom movements are on the rise?
There is a global trend demanding greater openness and transparency fuelled by a lack of confidence in institutions and certainly in the Middle East and North Africa often a perception of illegitimate government. In the US, that trend expresses itself in occupying Wall Street, in Southeast Asia protests either on the street or at the ballot box, in the Middle East and North Africa with a wave of revolts. Vision would be to recognize the trend, realize that it is unavoidable and get in front of the cart instead of behind it.
By doing so countries like Azerbaijan could become models. Myanmar is an example.
What is the reason for the West then to tolerate various violations in countries like Azerbaijan?
Answer: Azerbaijan is an important country geopolitically as well as in terms of energy. That is why the West has supported Azerbaijan despite its lack of openness. Change ultimately has to come from countries themselves. Having said that, Arab revolts are likely to make it more difficult for the international community to remain silent about the lack of freedom and violations of human rights.
When speaking of the Arab spring, many observers still continue to wonder, how did the whole thing start, and why now? Maybe the Wikileaks cables played a certain role in it?
Answer: Wikileaks simply gives an insight into US diplomatic perceptions. There was little new in them and they certainly did not spark the Arab revolts. In some cases they simply confirmed what was already known.
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