ok, friends, time to go. it's been a long day, 15 hours and counting. but it's been a great ending to an exciting day...thanks , m

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera English's senior political correspondent will be live on Reddit this afternoon from 1:30pm ET. During the course of this Reddit, Marwan will be appearing on air - please feel free to join him and ask questions about what he's talking about on TV at the same time (Live feed: http://aje.me/frVd5S).

His most recent blog posts are on his blog, Imperium, here: http://bit.ly/q99txP and the livestream of Al Jazeera English is up here, http://aje.me/frVd5S.

Bio: Marwan was previously a professor of International Relations at the American University of Paris. An author who writes extensively on global politics, he is widely regarded as a leading authority on the Middle East and international affairs.

Comments: 971 • Responses: 37  • Date: 

ramblerandgambler112 karma

  • Al Jazeera is often seen as the 'alternative' to the bad/misleading/biased mainstream media, of course no matter how hard one tries, there is always an element of bias in journalism, but is there a sense in the newsroom of this difference between AJ and other mainstream outlets?

  • Is there any danger of this trend changing form what you've seen?

  • What's the closest scrape you've ever gotten into in the field?

  • What was your first big story?

marwanbisharaaje179 karma

There are major differences... we are not commercial, not yet any way. And many of the decisions are taken on purely journalistic considerations, not commercial ones.

More importantly, most of the major or what you refer to as mainstream satellite networks are based in the world centers of power, whether in the US, Europe etc. Al Jazeera doesn't speak the language of power, it's the only one that speaks a truly international language that includes different accents, nationalities and ethnicities with no geopolitical agenda, program or culture of any sort.

Coffeh86 karma

What do you think the future holds for libya? A western style democracy , islamic republic? somewhere in bettween?

marwanbisharaaje130 karma

A third option, one that involved democratic process, but not full democracy. First and foremost political parties need to be established, and normalcy introduced to the country...

Turbodong47 karma

Could you elaborate on what you mean by "not full democracy"?

What are your criterion for democracy?

Are there any necessary conditions?

Sufficient conditions?

marwanbisharaaje235 karma

Democracy is the rule of the democratic values, not simply the rule of the majority. For that it's indispensable to groom a new generation of democrats within a civic state where the rights of the individual and the rights of minorities are protected by the majority.

3oclockinthemorning73 karma

I love your news channel, keep up the good work. Seriously the best news you can watch. Honest good reporting. Love it.

marwanbisharaaje85 karma

spread the word

TemplarianDX72 karma

From an outsider's perspective, how does the rest of the world "really" feel about the US?

marwanbisharaaje181 karma

Many are fascinated by it, and admire its liberties and its standard of living, social mobility and liberty. Others are not impressed by its inflated consumerism and emphasize its wrong headed foreign policies and its military adventures and failures. There are all sorts...

cory84962 karma

Who supports Gaddafi right now? Is there a sub-ethnic or regional division at play within Libyan politics? I mean the media likes to couch these things in terms of "the people" vs. "the strongman". But the strong man isn't the Hulk, beating off "the people" all by himself.

marwanbisharaaje85 karma

That's a great question. Better read my next book, "The Invisible Arab" for an indepth look at the forces behind the regimes and change. Most Arab regimes have been based on narrow but strong bases that have much at stake and invested in the regime. They could be tribes, clans, ethnicities etc. They also have regional allies and other forms of support system that helped them survive. However much of that is no longer sufficient to keep them in power. Change is coming and at times it will be costly.

TheMysticOne61 karma

What do you think should be the United State's role in the world in the next century?

marwanbisharaaje235 karma

Time to downsize the empire... better to do some reconstruction at home than wars abroad. The US has great soft power in its arsenal. Afghanistan might humiliate the pentagon, but no one has taken on Mickey Mouse yet...

Echolife60 karma

Are Libyans really so overwhelmingly anti-gadaffi, or is it just better marketing by the rebels? I can imagine situation where 10% of people are waiving guns, and 90% are just trying to stay alive.

marwanbisharaaje102 karma

Revolutions are generally spearheaded by a minority that's willing to face danger, especially the younger generation. It seems to me that Libyans want change, at least want the choice to make a choice.

nazbot57 karma

What are your thoughts on the current state of the media - are things worse than they used to be or better?

What would you like to see changed?

marwanbisharaaje178 karma

It's great for Al Jazeera. We are in the process of conquering new satellite frontiers, by putting journalism back in television and the media. Western networks are the losers thus far.

DanyaRomulus53 karma

Israel-Palestine conflict. How's it going to end?

marwanbisharaaje132 karma

Either in divorce, two states for two peoples, or in happy marriage, one state for two peoples, binational or a state for all its citizens - Arabs and Israelis - the ongoing occupation cant last any longer. It will simply turn into a new type of apartheid, something many argue has already taken root there.

sheepshizzle44 karma

What steps can ordinary American citizens take to try to get Al Jazeera (english language) broadcast in our country? You guys do a fantastic job at not editorializing the news. Keep up the good work.

marwanbisharaaje62 karma

go to english.aljazeera.net/demandaljazeera

Coffeh42 karma

Since al jazeera english is headquarterd in Qatar:

What political impacts will the 2022 world cup have on Qatar in the political spectrum? Will we see an increase in for instance, gay rights? As the lack of these does put of several western democracys.

marwanbisharaaje51 karma

It will allow it to open up more to the rest of the world. That's always a good thing for diversity and plurality.

PeacockDoom34 karma

How would you say things are progressing in Egypt? What are your predictions as to the type of governance that they will have? Will the secular state happen?

marwanbisharaaje60 karma

Egypt has only started on the path of democracy after decades of dictatorship. The military remains powerful, but will have to cede political power sooner rather than later. Turkey is the way to go the Egyptian military. The same might apply for the Islamist parties. They could compete in future elections, but couldn't change the civic nature of the state that's been that way for hundreds, arguably thousands, of years.

WearSunscreen33 karma

How is your day going?

marwanbisharaaje51 karma

a great day. hows yours..

FiniteCircle31 karma

What is Al Jazeera doing to try to change it's perception in the United States? Is it trying to enter the market and how is it doing so?

Thanks for this btw. Keep up the good journalism.

marwanbisharaaje69 karma

Our screen is our best salesperson and our best advocate. If people don't get it by cable they'll watch it through the internet, as they're increasingly doing.

i_like_jam27 karma

Egypt has a history of being one of the big forces in Middle Eastern cultural and political advancement. My own opinion was that they would again pave the way in the Arab Spring towards greater democracy in the Middle East, but due to their failure up till now to separate the military from politics I've begun to change my mind, and personally I think it might be Libya and its revolutionary council that open the doors to true democracy. What's your own opinion on who will guide the way (if indeed there will be a single trendsetter at all)?

marwanbisharaaje58 karma

The two aren't mutually exclusive. Egypt has had an important pan arab role to play and will remain the heavy weight. Libya on the other hand is indispensable today for building a successful democratic trio made up of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya... three neighboring future democracies...

3oclockinthemorning25 karma

Do you think the Arab Spring will spread south into Africa after Gaddafi has fallen, due to the fact that he gave the dictatorships so much support?

marwanbisharaaje38 karma

It's possible. There are some 120 countries around the world, many in Africa that are not democratic... their time will come.

mrblonde9922 karma

What do you think will happen in Syria? Will the west keep on ignoring the bloodbath?

marwanbisharaaje64 karma

The West has no military option in Syria. The only thing it could do is increase the diplomatic pressure with the help of Syria's neighbors...

diem117 karma

From watching your shows on AJE(Pax Americana, etc), I get the impression that you dont hold the US in very high regard. While this could be true for a whole number of reasons, why is it true for you personally. Why exactly dont you like the US?

marwanbisharaaje85 karma

I have no personal liking or disliking to countries. Working in a satellite media channel, our role is first and foremost to question global and superpowers, just as national media puts national questions first. The US, EU, BRIC powers etc, like transnational organizations and corporations must be probed.

cory84916 karma

Why do you think the West is more deferential to the established hereditary monarchies than it is to the other dictatorships in the Middle East?

Do you think we see them as more legitimate even though they are equally anti-democratic? Do you see them as more legitimate yourself, subconsciously?

Would you like to see democracy in Qatar? Do you avoid reporting critical things about The Emir?

marwanbisharaaje43 karma

It's not Western vs Arab, the West has and had its share of monarchies... it's different phases for different regions and countries.

As a political sociologist, I tend to differentiate between authoritarian and totalitarian states - the former allows for more political opening but maintains its grip on power, while totalitarians impose their ideology deep into the society, banning anything else that resembles diversity. Jean Kirpatrick, Reagan's ambassador to the UN in the early 1980s, believed that totalitarianism was America's enemy, while authoritarians were its allies. But it's difficult to claim that Saudi Arabia has had political opening. I am for democracy everywhere in the Arab world, better through peaceful transition than through violent upheavals, in the long term.

azulosam16 karma

Marwan, I don't any questions at the moment, but I just wanted to say that I'm a big fan of Empire, and I really appreciate your presence on Al Jazeera. It's journalists like you who help make the world a better place by asking tough questions, and exploring the world to provide meaningful insight. Thanks for everything you do on AJ!

marwanbisharaaje10 karma

kind of you

rbhindepmo14 karma

Out of the prominent Middle Eastern/North African sites of protests, what was the most surprising event to occur? (either a surprising series of protests in general or something during the protests/struggle, I mean)

Do you think the reaction to those protests/conflicts from the western world has helped or hurt their reputation in the Middle East/North Africa?

And this might be very premature, but do you see Libya adopting a list-vote/proportional representation-esque system of national legislative elections (similar to Iraq's system post-invasion) or is there another plausible way to determine both the constitution of that country and the laws of the country going forward?

I think the biggest logistical problem would be fair representation for the regions of that country and possible regional polarization if a broad "February 17th coalition" group can't stick together

marwanbisharaaje44 karma

As one Syrian blogger wrote recently going out to demonstrate is like a death sentence... that's a horrible thought. But they still do it.

[deleted]14 karma


marwanbisharaaje38 karma

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Qatar is a very small country. Any more coverage would have to be motivated by something other than news and journalism...

mkd-kj13 karma


marwanbisharaaje21 karma

We didn't stop stop, but the situation has changed there for the time being. However in the long run, the monarch will need to listen to the peoples' just demands for change.

[deleted]13 karma

Did you report the Saif Ghaddafi had been captured? Isn't his appearance in central libya with supporters contrary to the narrative reported by your and other outlets?

marwanbisharaaje21 karma

Mahmoud Jibril of the TNC explained how it happened. I did say that this could be used as a ploy to undermine Gaddafi forces as part of psychological warfare against the regime...

deepredsky13 karma

There is talk that full scale war is going to break out with Israel very soon. Do you believe this? What would be the steps that would lead to it? What steps could be taken to prevent it?

marwanbisharaaje53 karma

It would be plain stupid. Once the dust settle they will find themselves in the same place facing the same challenges with more spilled blood.

shiv5212 karma

what do you think the causes of the Arab spring were?? I mean we all saw the discontent but the toppling of soo many governments in this year has been astounding!!!
Do you think the green revolution influenced the process???
also the affect of social media was it exaggerated or vital?

marwanbisharaaje26 karma

There is the element of contagion in a region that speaks the same language. Al Jazeera has become the virtual public space for the 300 million Arabs over the last 15 years. This helps create a domino effect that we've witnessed the last few months. They also suffer from similiar bad conditions, whether unemployment, injustice etc.

fizzix_is_fun12 karma

Who funds Al Jazeera? Are you ever pressured from the funders to focus on something specific or to not report on something else?

marwanbisharaaje17 karma

the state of Qatar. no pressure that i know of

Nomadiya12 karma

Do you think it is about time to expel Nato/US/EU 'advisors' and the Libyans to start to rebuild their own country? I hear that Washington/London/Paris have 'reconstruction plans' for them. Iraq/Afghanistan 2?

marwanbisharaaje53 karma

NATO should stay clear from Libya, but europe and the US can help. The country needs economic and political reconstruction, not military build up.

huxtiblejones11 karma

Why did so many countries come to the aid of Libya during its 'Arab Spring' but not Tunisia or Egypt?

Do you believe that the reaction to Libya was strictly humanitarian or served some ulterior motive for the US / UN?

Do you think the Libyan people will be grateful that western powers helped or do you think they will ultimately see this as meddling in their affairs?

Could the Libyans have defeated Gaddafi without outside aid?

marwanbisharaaje20 karma

The Western aerial role has fastened the end of Gaddafi, but it's the Libyans who earned the victory.

ars_moriendi10 karma

Does Al Jazeera's laypeople-viewership see, or care, that the United States' influence in Libya is so fundamentally different from Iraq because we have a different President? And that each President changes, dramatically, how our military does or doesn't act in their backyards?

marwanbisharaaje33 karma

The major difference between presidents Bush and Obama, in terms of vision for america, foreign policy etc. has little to do with Libya, I'm afraid.

LinaGaza10 karma

In case the PA's statehood bid fails, which probably will, does that mean the end of the PA? What could alternate the facts that the Oslo accords created on ground?

marwanbisharaaje20 karma

If statehood fails, it will only be a matter of time for Palestinians to be citizens along with Israelis in one democratic state on the model of South Africa.

Bargom8 karma

Do you believe that NATO and the EU might pursue a course of events in Syria to the same degree they did in Libya?

marwanbisharaaje14 karma

That would be shortsighted. it would also help the regime more than the revolutionaries in the case of Syria.

Honestly_7 karma

Do you think China will ever become a player in the Middle East, or is it something they will be able to avoid? (i.e. getting resources from Africa, etc)

marwanbisharaaje20 karma

of course it will. I am planning an EMPIRE show from there to discuss such.. it's only a question of time for them to be as involved as the others

calaverasgrande7 karma

I have heard a lot of speculation from US media sources that the Libyan rebels are predominantly the Muslim Brotherhood, and this will oust a tyrant to be replaced by a fundamentalist Islamic state.

marwanbisharaaje17 karma

I disagree with that assessment. Islamists are active in most of the Arab countries and will play a part in the future of the arab countries, but within the boundaries of a civic democratic state.

[deleted]6 karma

What happened to the Q&A articles on the English Al Jazeera site? It would provide the basics of what was going on and why.

ragingblackmage4 karma

What steps do you see being taken to organize a constitution if/when the revolution in Libya is successful. I've wondered a lot about this. As Gaddafi's removal creates a vacuum, how does Libya get from that probable initial chaos to a "successful" constitution (One that I'm hoping will grant Libyans basic rights like freedom of speech, fair elections and a state that provides for their security while respecting their privacy.)?

marwanbisharaaje13 karma

Presumably, the TNC has a ten-step plan that includes an election for a committee that will put together a democratic constitution, then hold elections.