Continual change in the Middle East

By Harry Hagopian
June 16, 2011

Analysts are everywhere these days trying to make sense of what is happening in the MENA region. And it is not so easy either, given the lack of expertise of a number of the pundits, let alone the furious pace of the developments as well as the contradictions inherent in some of the changes from one day to another.

Yet, to repeat an apt phrase that the Archbishop of Canterbury used in his interview on BBC Radio 4's The World at One (14 June 2011) with Martha Kearney, "the milk is out of the bottle".

Quite. A sense of change is morphing across Middle Eastern countries - from Syria, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain all the way to Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon and Palestine.

Here, then, is my latest 33-minute podcast interview with James Abbott in the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales studio. It strives to interpret, sotto voce, some of those events through a politically-informed but also faith-centred prism.

The interview examines the deteriorating situation in Syria, with thousands of refugees fleeing into Turkey after a military crackdown in the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour.

It also looks at Yemen and the current state of play. President Ali Abdullah Saleh is undergoing medical treatment in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for wounds suffered in an attack on his palace earlier this month.

Finally I discuss Bahrain, the lifting of emergency laws and a potentially significant court case. There is also a regional round-up examining the situation in Libya, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

You can listen to the podcast here:


© Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant. He also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris. He is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor ( Formerly an Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches, he is consultant to the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (UK) and author of The Armenian Church in the Holy Land. Dr Hagopian’s own website is

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