Why is the Middle East constantly in turmoil and war? Why has our region been a major global source of terrorism, illegal migration, and criminal smuggling activities in the past half-century? My talk will explain the erratic, often violent, conditions in most Arab countries today by analyzing the governance and socio-economic deficiencies and disparities that drive so many people (some 70% on average in most lands) into poverty and vulnerability, alongside their condition of political helplessness in the face of their autocratic rulers. These trends marginalize and alienate many citizens, leading to state fragmentation or collapse, and these in turn open the way for sectarian tensions, illegal migration, secessionist parties, non-state armed actors, and even groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS in places. Non-state actors and foreign countries both act as sovereign powers in some lands. The century-old Palestinian-Zionist and Arab-Israeli conflicts have contributed to these trends, as has non-stop military intervention by foreign powers for two centuries.
The Arab region is not only characterized by deficient statehood and citizenship. Within it are pockets of excellence and success in small countries that enjoy great mineral wealth, or distinct quarters within the poorer countries where quality education and meritocracies in the private sector have led to economic growth and citizen wellbeing.
Rami George Khouri is Director of Global Engagement at the American University of Beirut (AUB), an internationally syndicated political columnist and book author, a professor of journalism and Journalist-in-Residence at AUB, and a non-resident senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. He was the first director, and is now a senior fellow, at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at AUB. He was the executive editor of the Beirut-based Daily Star newspaper, the editor-in-chief of the Jordan Times, and was awarded the Pax Christi International Peace Prize for 2006.
He teaches or lectures annually at the American University of Beirut and Northeastern University. In 2017 he was the inaugural scholar-in-residence in the Department of Global Interdisciplinary Studies at Villanova University. He has been a fellow and visiting scholar at Harvard, Mount Holyoke, Princeton, Syracuse, The Fletcher School at Tufts, Northeastern, Denver, Villanova, Oklahoma, and Stanford universities, and was a member of the Brookings Institution Task Force on US Relations with the Islamic World. He is a Fellow of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (Arab East Jerusalem). He also serves on the Joint Advisory Board of the Northwestern University Journalism School in Doha, Qatar, and Georgetown University’s Center for Regional and International Studies in Doha, and recently completed a four-year term on the International Advisory Council of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
He was owner and general manager of Al Kutba, Publishers, in Amman, Jordan, where he also served as a consultant to the Jordanian tourism ministry on biblical archaeological sites. He has hosted programs on archaeology, history and current public affairs on Jordan Television and Radio Jordan, and often comments on Mideast issues in the international media. He has BA and MSc degrees respectively in political science and mass communications from Syracuse University, NY, USA.
Guests may register in advance for $15 or register at the door for $20. Please arrive at 9:30 am to check in. Advance registration opens one month before each event and closes the Wednesday before each event. There is no cost for WACHH members to attend.