What's Next: Phase II of the Middle East Uprisings
Robin Wright, Author and Journalist
Photos | Transcript

altWashington, DC—On September 12, 2012, author and journalist Robin Wright addressed WFPG on “What’s Next: Phase II of the Middle East Uprisings”. In her remarks, she covered the previous day’s attacks in Benghazi and Cairo, and an assessment of the recent uprisings in Syria, as well as an analysis of the tense relationship between Iran, the US, and Israel. The event was hosted by Ambassador Paro at the Embassy of Croatia.

In her opening remarks, Wright paid tribute to Ambassador Christopher Stevens, her close friend killed in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. She described him as a diplomat that "was willing to take on conventional wisdom and try to shape US foreign policy in the ways that the people on the ground appreciated it." Although there is still some debate whether the attack in Libya was premeditated, the protests in the region and attacks on the US Embassy in Cairo are widely attributed to be a reaction to a YouTube trailer which disrespectfully depicts Muhammad. Supposedly, the attack was orchestrated by the Salafis, an ultraconservative Islamist group. Although many questions remain unanswered, Wright explained that President Morsi's lack of response could damage US-Egyptian relations, especially since this attack occurred after the US sent a delegation of 100 executives to Cairo in hopes of encouraging investment and support for the economy. President Morsi faces pressure to respond to these attacks internationally from the US and domestically from the Salafis, a very influential group in the Constituent Assembly.

On the long debated question of whether Islam and democracy can coexist, Ambassador Paro asked Wright whether the experiences of Eastern Europe or Turkey could serve as models in the Middle East. Wright noted that "the Eastern European experience is very useful, not just in writing a new constitution but dealing with some of the ethnic issues." She then noted that Turkey, though "far from perfect," has made incredible strides in human rights and its economy and that it is a very interesting model and an important player.

Wright also addressed the tension between Iran, the US and Israel. She does not see any negotiations happening until after the US presidential elections. Wright also noted that Iran's presidential elections are also on the horizon and Ahmadinejad is not eligible for re-election. The future of Iran's relationship with the West will be influenced by his successor. There is a great deal of debate surrounding Iran's nuclear capabilities and what their goals are. Wright pointed out that "we [the US] assume if you're building a facility in a mountain for nuclear enrichment at a higher percentage than you need for nuclear energy...that there might be something more involved." Wright urges us to look deeper into the situation and posits, that Iran's nuclear aspirations may have more to do with sectarian divides than international security.


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Shelly Porges of the Department of State, WFPG President
Patricia Ellis, speaker Robin Wright, Ambassador
JoškoParo of Croatia, and Randa Masri of ConnectME

  Robin Wright addresses the WFPG

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Patricia Ellis (moderator) and Robin Wright

  Ambassador Jadranka Negodic of Bosnia and
Herzegovina with Ronna Freiberg and Board Member
Donna Constantinople

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