Hello Reddit! I am Al Jazeera English's senior political analyst and the host of "Empire", a show on the channel that examines global powers and their agendas. I'm also the author of The Invisible Arab: The Promise and Peril of the Arab Revolutions. My article this week in the New York Times, about the US, Iran, and the Arab world, might also be of interest.

Here's some proof.

And some more.

Thanks Reddit! Unfortunately, I must catch a flight, but hope to catch up with you soon. Stay Reddit. Amen.

Comments: 993 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

Sexyarmpits273 karma

There has been controversy regarding Al jazeera's nuetrality in regard to coverage of events in Egypt as of late. There has also been growng concern regarding the influence American 'official' opinion influencing the media organisation. Do you think Al Jazeera is affected by these and can be independant and neutral in the face of political pressures?

marwanbisharaaje568 karma

As a news organisation, we are not in search of neutrality. Rather, objectivity. In other words, we would expose the facts regardless of how any which party is affected - or how we might be perceived. In Egypt, there have been some dramatic shifts and twists over the last three years which we have tried to cover to the best of our abilities. That does not mean mistakes have not been made. After all, we are a news organisation that broadcasts 24/7. On the overall, our coverage has been sound but that doesn't mean we have been popular among certain Egyptians or other viewers.

forcedapplause150 karma

I'm a student journalist about to graduate in a few months and start to build my career in journalism. What advice do you have for someone just starting out in the professional world? What should I - or should I not - do to help build a successful career in journalism?

marwanbisharaaje280 karma

Hard work, consistency, passion without emotions. More concretely, try to forget a lot of what you learned in school and be open for whatever comes your way in whatever role you take on.

Journalism schools are good for basic techniques. What you need is capacity and talent for writing and the pursuit of truth through the search for verifiable facts.

thebageljew112 karma

What is your stance on Israel and the Palestinian wars?

marwanbisharaaje224 karma

It's more of an occupation than a mere conflict or war. And it is the nature of the occupation that breeds tensions, conflict, and violence. That's why de-occupying Palestine will most probably lead to stability and eventually peace between the two peoples. Otherwise, if the military - and more importantly, civilian - occupation continue, Israel and Palestine will face a South Africa-like scenario, where the two peoples would have to live in one state. Already, the farthest distance between any Palestinian and Israeli is no more than a kilometres. In other words, unless they separate today, they will have to integrate tomorrow.

johnself54 karma

How do you define Palestine, geographically - do you consider it to be the West Bank + Gaza or the entire territory between Jordan and the Med?

marwanbisharaaje113 karma

historic palestine is well known, it comprises Israel, the west bank and Gaza, but the PLO has agreed to a state over the lands occupied in 1967, which comprise West Bank, including east jerusalem and the Gaza strip

JerkyCarrot36 karma

I thought Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005...

marwanbisharaaje77 karma

it redeployed out of the strip but it blockades it and maintains the right to interfere militarily when it deems necessary as it did in 2008

Cool_Hand_Lucan106 karma

Do you think Western-style secularization will happen in the Middle East within your lifetime? Would it be a good thing in your opinion?

marwanbisharaaje137 karma

Probably not. Nor is it desired. The Middle East will eventually find its own way and the way it defines the relationship/separation between religion and state.

mrs_marty_pants94 karma

How much of western geopolitical strategy in the Middle East do you see being based around pipeline politics and the need to control the Eurasian pivot?


marwanbisharaaje129 karma

Certainly oil has been central to the Middle East's geopolitical importance. This continues to be the case despite America's capacity to be self-sufficient in energy, because Middle East oil is indispensable for Europe and China and therefore, it will remain under American influence for the foreseeable future. The global demand for oil exceeds the global supplies in the next decade or two, which refocuses global power interests in the region.

Prof_Aganda59 karma

Al Jazeera being funded by Qatari Government,

1) Do you feel your channel has the freedom to criticize local government?

2) Do you think democracy is something Qatari people look forward in the future?

3) What do you think Al Jazeera should do to promote democracy in Qatar?

marwanbisharaaje214 karma

1) Yes, and we've done so in the past regarding labour issues, negligence in the workplace, and environmental issues. 2) Probably in the future. 3) Al Jazeera is not in the business of promoting democracy anywhere. We are in journalism. We are not on a mission.

dxfaa52 karma

Is Al Jazeerah allowed to operate in Egypt now?

marwanbisharaaje91 karma

Some of it is. Al Jazeera network has a number of channels. One is banned, the other is on probation, and the third can report from there. The problem for Al Jazeera is that the Egyptian authorities continue to detain some of its journalists since the military takeover on July 3.

Montaigne31439 karma

Do you think the world of journalism in the US is not as it should be? In terms of a few companies owning the vast majority of media outlets.

Also, do you think there is a problem with things being covered and their air time being way out of proportion to the importance of the story? Like why global warming and human trafficking gets little coverage, but they will spend so much time covering an election, or a stupid celebrities new baby.

marwanbisharaaje96 karma

Corporate media in the United States tends to centralise much of the news and information in the hands of a few. While there is fierce competition among those corporations, they are only a handful and tend to monopolise and standardise broadcasting in a country as diversified and pluralistic as the United States. That's unfortunate, but it doesn't seem to change to the better. Indeed, as all corporations must, media corporations are in the pursuit of profit, not facts per se.

BipolarSmith26 karma

Hi Marwan. I watch Al Jazeera almost everyday and I've learned a lot from its documentaries.

What is your best guess of how and when the Syrian war will end?

marwanbisharaaje37 karma

Our documentaries are exceptional as we search for independent filmmakers who pursue uncovered stories from around the world. People and Power, Witness, among others are some of the best products we have on Al Jazeera. As for the Syrian war, I couldn't predict about its ending, and I don't see signs that the Assad regime is serious about the move towards transitional government with executive powers - as per Geneva I - and hence, the conflict might continue in the foreseeable future.

bravoitaliano25 karma

Thanks for this AMA, Marwan. I find Al-Jazeera a refreshing dose of fact-based news when I travel abroad. Love to tap in now and then here at home in the states to get away from the sensationalist news cycle.

Can you tell us the best way, as Americans, that you think we can positively affect the relationship between the Middle East and our country peacefully? It seems like we don't have as many cross-cultural programs with this region as we do with Europe or Asia. Is it sport? That seems one of the best ways to build relationships between countries...

marwanbisharaaje98 karma

Withdraw all military forces from the region and instead lead by example.

polluxuk20 karma

What do you see happening in Afghanistan over the next five years?

marwanbisharaaje47 karma

There are two possible scenarios: The Iraq scenario where the US withdraws fully and all hell breaks loose. Or, it leaves a few thousand soldiers presumably for training and "combating terrorism" which means the war will continue, albeit in new ways and with new means.

Vadersays19 karma

Hello, thank you for doing this AMA!

How do you think the U.S. Should have handled the Arab Spring? It seemed the general policy was inaction, would they have been better served outright supporting more pro-democracy movements, or should they have propped up Mubarak as conservative commentators claim? Ultimately, has the U.S. reputation and power projection been hamstrung by Iraq and Afghanistan or were there better political moves to be made during the Arab Spring?

marwanbisharaaje39 karma

The Obama administration was at first in denial over the earth shattering changes sweeping through the region. And then it committed itself to change but only rhetorically. In reality, it chose to tackle change, or lack thereof, in each and every Arab country according to its own narrowly defined interests. Today, the Obama administration made clear democratic changes are not its priorities in the region as it focuses on Iran, Israel and mitigating the Syrian crisis.

fbifriday19 karma

What do you think about the slight cooling of relations between Iran and the US, and what do you think it could mean for the US/Israeli alliance if Iran and the US were to expand their relations?

marwanbisharaaje47 karma

Israel is a red line in both countries. That's why neither Obama nor Rouhani would dare compromise on their position vis-a-vis Israel. They will simply agree to disagree. In other words, rapprochement between the two countries will affect the Arab world more than it will Israel. Iran seeks US recognition as a regional power and return for compromise on its nuclear programme.

Sexyarmpits18 karma

What is your opinion regarding the american pivot to asia and 'containment' of china?

Ps: thanks much!

marwanbisharaaje48 karma

There have been some voices in recent days proposing an American economic pivot towards China, and Asia in general. That certainly beats the military pivot that is no more than shifting a few extra forces from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The US and China are leading commercial partners and the latter has already augmented its investment in America 12 times or so over the last 10 years. (I'm only recalling this from memory, but the figures are not far off.) China is in more ways than one following in the footsteps of the United States in terms of geoeconomics and geopolitics. It certainly espouses no world vision of its own, as did the Soviet Union in the last century. Whatever security issues the two countries disagree on could be resolved through agreements, not deployment of forces.

know_comment12 karma

What role do you see Iran playing in the BRIC economy and what concessions would have to be made in order for the US not to find an excuse to target Iran with some sort of military intervention?

marwanbisharaaje17 karma

The major issues facing the US and Iran centre on the latter's nuclear programme and its role in the Middle East. If Tehran accepts certain oversight over its nuclear programme, and Washington recognises Iran's regional role, then you could expect detente between the two countries. It seems to me the Obama administration is already heading that way, which explains why Iran has been invited to the Geneva II talks on Syria.

bernajurema10 karma

Hi Marwan, I'm a big fan of your work and of AJE. Thank you for doing this.

What role do you think Brazil, a diplomatic powerhouse, could play in the global scene? Could it add to world diplomacy, or the fact that it lacks a strong military necessarily means it is doomed to have a secondary role?

marwanbisharaaje29 karma

Brazil is a powerhouse because of the size of its economy, its geography, and its significance to the rest of Latin America. Brazil does not need a strong military even though it has recently purchased an aircraft carrier of sorts, presumably to protect its offshore oil drilling.


Yo Marwan, you da man!

marwanbisharaaje48 karma

No, YOU'RE da man!

kingpg7 karma

Do you believe the Libyan intervention was ethical and what do you believe the motivations behind it were?

marwanbisharaaje39 karma

I am no judge of motivations. But clearly, the record shows that Western powers are selective in their interventions, whether in the Arab world or elsewhere in the Third World. The military intervention might have been necessary to stop the threat of genocide by Gaddafi, although I remain sceptical that he would have dared to do so. Today, Libya suffers from the aftermath of the military intervention as warlords and armed militia roam the country in the absence of centralised military forces. Indeed, unless Libyans are able to unify their militia under the command of the central government, sooner rather than later, Libya could become a failed state - a scenario that no one would wish for.

evil_lesh3 karma

Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses, or 1 horse sized duck?

marwanbisharaaje30 karma


tinatm-1 karma

Hey, I love your reporting on AJ, especially the latest edition of "Empire".

I have often heard the term "Arab" used to name a people, but this term is often used in different, more or less broad ways (e.g. to name al Arabic speaking people, only those from the penunsula, etc). How would you define "Arab" and do you consider yourself as one?

marwanbisharaaje1 karma

Arabs are the people who speak Arabic, and have lived in the geography, under the same sky, with the same culture and history. Arabism shouldn't be understood as an ideology.