Mid-East Protests and Twitter Confrontations: Is This Democracy?

Cory Bennett
National Journal

The Political Landscape is a weekly podcast where we discuss the news of the day with leading experts and analysts.

A series of ongoing protests at U.S. embassies and consulates have swept across several Middle Eastern countries the past few weeks. Many of these are countries that experienced changes in leadership during the Arab Spring: Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia.

Ben Gilbert is a news editor for Al-Monitor.com, a new website devoted to news from and about the Middle East. Gilbert is currently working out of Beirut, Lebanon, and has been living in the Middle East for seven years. He was in Libya during the Arab Spring, and is now witnessing the Mid-East protests first-hand in Lebanon.

When we spoke with Gilbert, he had had to leave his office early because of protests in downtown Beirut. The phone connection was lost a few times during the conversation, so our apologies for the changing sound quality.

The ongoing protests across the Middle East have spurred a larger discussion over how America should handle these emerging democratic governments in the region. National Journal senior correspondent James Kitfield has written on this topic several times in the last few weeks. Kitfield has covered national security and foreign policy for over two decades, winning awards for his first-hand coverage of the war in Afghanistan and the surge in Iraq. When we spoke with Kitfield, he said it was imperative that U.S. be on the right side of history in the Middle East, even if that means accepting an unstable landscape for the time being.

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