It’s a real honor to be invited by MISTRA to give this annual lecture, and I am most grateful for this opportunity. I am humbled by the predecessors who have given this talk. My wife and I are both deeply humbled to be on the soil of South Africa, which remains for the world a great symbol of struggle and success.
But with South Africa I am also humbled to be sharing the continuing quest that we all share for genuine social justice, full equality, sustained economic growth, and stable, satisfying, and equitable statehood. This is a challenge that all of us face. South Africa has made this incredible leap forward in the battle for equality and freedom for all of its people; but the struggle for economic and social justice and other aspects of statehood continues, and we share the struggle, all of us together. The Middle East is a particularly strong example of troubles in many different forms, in many different countries, and for many different reasons, so I hope that I can share with you a few thoughts about why the Middle East is so violent and turbulent, particularly the Arab world, because really the problems we’re talking about are mostly in the Arab world. The non-Arab Middle East — Israel, Turkey, Iran — certainly have challenges and issues, but the real problems, the violence, the instability, the fragmentation, the extremism, are mostly taking place in Arab countries, and I will try to give you some analysis and explanations about that.
I would also add that this is clearly a situation where institutes like MISTRA and my institute, the Issam Fares Institute for Pubic Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, and many others here and in the Middle East, really need to share notes and experiences, and work together to fully understand the universal dynamics that define much of what is happening in both of our worlds, in both of our regions. I’m sure that by greater exchanges of researchers, of analysts, of political activists, of public policy officials, that we can gain great insights into the experiences that we’ve each had, and therefore perhaps contribute to finding those elusive solutions that we all seek.
To read more, download PDF of lecture: Rami Khouri Annual Lecture 2015 final.pdf
* Rami G Khouri is a Senior Public Policy Fellow at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, American University of Beirut. He is a Columnist and Editor at large at The Daily Star newspaper, Beirut, Lebanon and author of A View from the Arab World, an internationally syndicated political column. He is an author of books, and newspaper and magazine articles, and a lecturer in media & politics at the American University of Beirut, Northeastern University. He is a non-resident senior fellow at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University. And is a frequent analyst/commentator on current affairs on BBC radio and television, CNN, NPR, Al-Jazeera International, and other leading international media.