March 1st, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Should the U.S. do something to protect Libyans from Gadhafi?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The humanitarian crisis in Libya could quickly escalate into a full-blown catastrophe.
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Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has made it clear he will not be forced out of power. He continues to attack and kill his own people who dare to protest his dictatorship. It's estimated more than 1,000 people have been killed so far. The country has sunk into a civil war that has caused tens of thousands to flee to the Libyan-Tunisian border.

And it's getting worse by the day. So what's the United States, the world’s only superpower, to do?

After days of not saying much while Americans were evacuated, the White House has started to talk tough, saying all options are on the table with respect to Libya.

The U.S. has frozen $30 billion in Libyan assets. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met with top diplomats to discuss possible next steps.

Today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he is positioning two naval warships in the Mediterranean near Libya. He said the focus is on humanitarian assistance and evacuations, and there has been no authorization for use of force.

In a piece for the UK Telegraph, foreign affairs analyst Nile Gardiner asks whether tyrants even fear the United States anymore. He writes, "Just a few years ago, the United States was genuinely feared on the world stage, and dictatorial regimes, strategic adversaries and state sponsors of terror trod carefully in the face of the world's most powerful nation. Now Washington appears weak, rudderless and frequently confused in its approach."

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. do something to protect Libyans from Gadhafi?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Middle East
February 24th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Time for U.S. to scale back its role in world affairs?


President Obama makes a statement on Libya with Secretary of State Clinton at the White House. (PHOTO CREDIT: JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama finally spoke out Wednesday on the crisis in Libya. He condemned the violence against anti-government protesters and announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be meeting with top diplomats on Monday to discuss how to respond to violence in the region.

However, the president stopped short of calling for the resignation of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi or announcing any sanctions the United States would place on that nation.

The president is expected to speak with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron by phone on Thursday to discuss the unfolding situation in Libya.

All of this happened after the president didn't say anything for the first few days of the crisis. He was reportedly concerned about the safety of Americans inside Libya. It turns out not saying anything is not necessarily a bad thing, according to a new Gallup Poll.

While 66% of Americans think the United States should play either the leading or a major role in resolving international problems, 32% say the United States should be a minor player or not get involved at all. That's up from 23% just two years ago, and at its highest level since 2001.

But as tensions mount and the stakes get higher, which they inevitably do when oil is involved, it's unlikely the United States will remain on the sidelines indefinitely.

Here’s my question to you: Is it time for the U.S. to scale back its role in world affairs?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


February 23rd, 2011
05:38 PM ET

What's likely to fill the power vacuums in Middle East?


Egyptians return home from the Sallum border crossing with Libya as they flee political turmoil in the midst of an insurrection against Moammar Gadhafi's regime. (PHOTO CREDIT: AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The political uprisings across the Middle East and northern Africa have paved the way for change for millions of people who have never known life outside a dictatorship. For the rest of us watching at home, those uprisings have created a lot of questions about the future of a region rich with oil and not exactly starved of anti-Americanism.

Until Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned earlier this month, one party had held all that nation's political power for decades. Other parties were banned or restricted in power. The military is running things now, but who will eventually be in charge?

Moammar Gadhafi has ruled over Libya with a culture of fear since 1969. If he goes – and it looks like he will – what's next? And what if the ruling Sunni family in Bahrain flees and allows the Shiite majority to take control of that tiny nation? Some say it's only a matter of time before they embrace Iranian politics. And of course, what does it all mean for nations like the United States?

In a piece for the Daily Beast, Leslie Gelb writes, "To be blunt, I don't know anyone who has the foggiest idea where these revolutions from Algeria to the borders of Saudi Arabia are going or whether future leaders there will be true democrats or new dictators."

Gelb says he's hoping for – but not betting on – a brighter more democratic future for these countries.

After all, we've got a lot at stake over there. And it's not just about oil. It's anti-terrorist operations, it's U.S. military presence and how our foreign policy fits in the changing policies of Arab nations.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Middle East
February 10th, 2011
04:59 PM ET

What signal would Mubarak resignation send to Mideast?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Two weeks ago – nobody estimated the size of the story that was unfolding in Cairo. And I'm not sure anybody still does.
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It's entirely possible that what we've been seeing on our TV screens for the last two weeks could reach far beyond the borders of Egypt.

There are already rumblings across the Middle East that something much larger is happening.

If and when Mubarak steps down - he'll be following Tunisia's president, who was pushed out of power last month after similar popular uprisings.

Yemen's president has said he won't seek re-election when his term is up - and that he won't hand power over to his son.

And, after calls for reform - Jordan's King Abdullah sacked his whole government and appointed a new prime minister.

Meanwhile - protests, facilitated by technology like Facebook and Twitter, have sprung up everywhere from Algeria to Sudan and Syria.

It seems that after decades of repression in some of these countries... the people are finally being heard.

Earlier this week, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked about a possible domino effect in the region. He described what's happened in Tunisia and Egypt as a "spontaneous manifestation of discontent" coming from people who have both political and economic complaints about their governments.

Gates says he hopes that other leaders in the region take note of what's going on in Egypt and Tunisia and start addressing their citizens' concerns.

My guess is they may not have much of a choice.

Here’s my question to you: What signal would Mubarak's resignation send to other Middle Eastern countries?‬

Filed under: Egypt • Middle East
February 3rd, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Mideast chaos break U.S. addiction to foreign oil?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As unrest sweeps through the Middle East like wildfire, it's worth remembering this crisis will cost all of us - especially at the gas station.
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And maybe – just maybe – this time, the chaos in that part of the world will finally be enough to break America's addiction to foreign oil.

Although Egypt is not a major oil producer, it plays a key role in the transport of oil and gas headed to the U.S., Europe and Asia through the Suez Canal.

Without it, shippers would have to send crude oil and gas around the Horn of Africa. That adds on more than two weeks of delivery time to global markets.

With the ongoing violence and protests in Egypt, some shippers are worried about disruptions to the Suez Canal or nearby pipelines.

Nearly 2.5 million barrels of oil go through the canal every day – that's about equal to Iraq's output.

All this comes as global oil supplies are tightening – mostly due to China's increasing demand.

And the markets are reacting. Crude is trading at more than $103 a barrel – that's a 28-month high.

Even before the Mideast erupted, some experts were predicting gas at $5 a gallon by 2012.

And it's not just about the money. So much of the politics of the region has always been dictated by our need for oil. It would be nice to do what's in our best national interest for a change... instead of being beholden to Mideast dictators for their oil.

Here’s my question to you: Should the chaos in the Middle East be enough to break America's addiction to foreign oil?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Egypt • Middle East • Oil Prices
February 3rd, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Mubarak forced out now instead of September?


Egyptian anti-government demonstrators gather in Cairo on this 10th day of protests calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. (PHOTO CREDIT: PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Egyptian people are not buying what Hosni Mubarak is selling.

In fact, the anti-government protesters have only become more emboldened since Mubarak's announcement that he'll step down from the presidency - but not until September.

But they want him gone now. They think 30 years is long enough.

However, that doesn't seem to matter much to Mubarak.

He told ABC's Christiane Amanpour that he's sick of being president and would like to leave office now. But he says he can't for fear of the country slipping into chaos. That's as opposed to what we're seeing in the streets of Cairo right now.

As for the people shouting insults at him, Mubarak says, "I don't care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country, I care about Egypt."

Earlier this week, President Obama seemed to suggest Mubarak step down sooner rather than later, saying an orderly transition to a new regime "must begin now."

U.S. officials say the protest movement isn't going away - it's only getting bigger. They worry that the longer the crisis goes on without a resolution, the worse the economic impact and violence will become. Already there are food and fuel shortages and bank closures.

Other world leaders have also called on Mubarak to step aside, including Turkey's prime minister, who says Mubarak should "satisfy the people's desire for change" without hesitation.

Others are suggesting an interim "caretaker government" that could oversee the upcoming elections.

Here’s my question to you: Should Mubarak be forced out now rather than waiting until his term expires in September?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Egypt • Middle East
February 2nd, 2011
05:56 PM ET

What's next for Middle East?


A Molotov cocktail thrown by a supporter of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak arcs through the air towards government opponents in a side street during a violent conflict between the two groups in Cairo. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Middle East is starting to look like one big game of dominoes.

As the kings, unelected presidents and emirs watch what's going on in the streets of Cairo, they've got to be wondering if they're going to be next.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's days are clearly numbered. At this point, it seems highly unlikely he'll even make it through the rest of his term.

Mubarak would be following Tunisian President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali out the door after similar popular street movements pushed him out of power.

No doubt about it, some sort of genie is out of the bottle.

Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh says he won't seek re-election when his term ends in 2013. That's after more than three decades in office. He also says he won't hand power over to his son.

Of course, he made that announcement ahead of a "day of rage" protest scheduled for Thursday.

Thousands of people have already been demonstrating in Yemen in recent weeks.

Over in Jordan, King Abdullah has sacked his government and appointed a new prime minister in the face of protests. The king is asking the new government to implement what he calls "genuine political reform."

It’s funny how "reform" has suddenly become a priority in some of these countries after decades of repressive governments.

Meanwhile, demonstrators also are calling for change in Algeria and Sudan. And in Syria, there are protests planned for this week.

Experts say these protests sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa are "unprecedented" and a "watershed event for the Arab world."

For now, the leadership in Saudi Arabia and Libya seems secure, but it's safe to say a new day is dawning.

Here’s my question to you: What's next for the Middle East?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Egypt • Middle East
February 2nd, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Risks if Mubarak is removed from power?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Somebody suggested, "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know."
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When it comes to Egypt, Hosni Mubarak is the devil we know.

Ruling for the last three decades, Mubarak has maintained Egypt as a moderate regional force in the face of extreme Islamist nations.

He's also helped keep peace with Israel.

Now Mubarak says he's not running for re-election and it's unclear how much longer he will cling to power.

Which brings us to who's the devil we don't know?

History suggests we might want to watch what we wish for:

Remember when the Bush administration pushed for democratic elections in Gaza and Hamas won?

Or go back a little further: When the Shah of Iran was toppled 30 years ago, the ayatollahs took over and Iran became an Islamic republic.

The Iranian Revolution was originally backed by many groups - much like the one in Egypt - but the extremists took control of the movement - and look where we are today.

Some worry the same thing could happen in Egypt. They fear the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. Even though the extremely conservative Islamic organization is banned from Egypt, it's still the largest opposition group.

But not everyone agrees. Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei rejects the idea that Islamic fundamentalists will take over.

The secular ElBaradei says he's reaching out to the Muslim Brotherhood and that they need to be included in any new government.

Here’s my question to you: What are the risks if Mubarak is removed from power in Egypt?

Filed under: Egypt • Middle East
January 31st, 2011
04:14 PM ET

Social media and Egypt uprising?


A Twitter feed regarding demonstrations in Cairo, Egypt. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As popular uprisings sweep the Middle East, it's hard to underestimate the role played by social media and new technology.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, cell phones and even cable news outlets are putting a tremendous amount of power right into the hands of the people. And don't think for a second that the rest of the Arab world isn't watching.

For starters, these communication tools allow ordinary citizens to plan and organize protests in a way that was unthinkable just a few years ago. They can spread the word about mass protests, ensuring more people will show up. In turn, the sheer size of some of these protests makes it close to impossible for officials to stop them.

Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, these protests aren't happening in a vacuum as they might have decades ago.

When young Egyptians take to the streets by the thousands, the world is seeing it and hearing about it in real time through texts, tweets, pictures and videos. It's also why governments, such as those in Egypt or Iran, have tried to crack down on the internet and some of these websites.

In the case of Egypt, social media sites have also put pressure on Washington to act more quickly. With so much information leaking out, it became impossible for the U.S. to downplay what was going on and stay out of it.

No surprise that other dictators in the Middle East are worried. And they should be - they could be next.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Middle East • Technology
January 31st, 2011
04:12 PM ET

U.S. role in Middle East political unrest?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With Egyptian protesters hitting the streets for a week now, there is a growing sense of frustration at the lack of response from the U.S.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/01/31/art.egypt.protests.jpg caption="Protestors hold an anti Hosni Mubarek sign in Tahrir Square during afternoon anti-government protests today in Cairo."]
Many point to the speech President Obama made to the Muslim world in Cairo in June 2009.

In it, he spoke about Democracy and warned that governments can't suppress the rights of the people.

So... almost two years later - these protesters want to know why President Obama isn't putting his money where his mouth is - and openly supporting them.

It's a reasonable question.

Some in the Middle East are going even farther. The Israeli newspaper Ha-aretz writes that Mr. Obama will be remembered as the president who "lost" Egypt, "and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled."

The piece suggests President Obama has been too cautious - sitting on the fence and neither embracing despised leaders nor preaching for Democracy.

But supporters of the administration say that abandoning a key ally in a time of crisis would damage America's interests in the region. What kind of message would it send to other allies?

Also, others see Egypt as a moderate force in a region of Islamic extremists like Iran. They say Egypt has helped keep peace between Israel and the Arab world.

Meanwhile, there are signs that after 30 years, the White House is quietly preparing for a post-Mubarak Egypt.

One former Obama official tells the Los Angeles Times that the administration recognizes it has to be "on the right side of history," and that it can't try to keep Mubarak in power at all costs.

Here’s my question to you: What is the U.S. role when it comes to violence and political unrest in the Middle East?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Middle East
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