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Three years after the Arab Spring broke out across the Middle East, a panel of local experts will be discussing the current state of the region and the global impact of the uprising, even here in the Ozarks. KSMU’s Shane Franklin spoke with one of the panelists and has this story.
Dr. David Romano holds the Thomas G. Strong Chair in Middle East Politics at Missouri State University.
He says the Middle East seemed to be in this democratic vacuum, just a few years ago, as much of the world was pursuing democratization full tilt. Virtually all of the military dictatorships of Latin American, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia, were being phased out, but the Middle East just seemed to be in this time warp, said Romano.
“Then suddenly the Arab Spring hit, and we see significant changes happening. There is often two steps back with that first hesitant step forward, but things are moving,” said Romano.
Romano is one of four panelists speaking , along with Dr. Jeff VanDenBerg, Director of Middle East Studies at Drury University, Dr. Serdar Poyraz from MSU, and Dhia Ben Ali from the University of Arkansas.
Between the four, the panel has extensive knowledge of Middle Eastern politics, culture, history, language, and the role that non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) are currently playing in the region.
Romano is the Author of The Kurdish Nationalist Movement, and will be sharing thoughts on the impact the Arab Spring has had on this group. He says historically the Kurdish people have used times of political upheaval to make significant gains in their fight for autonomy.
“We see the Kurds in Syria enjoying freedoms they’ve never had, and receiving some support from Kurds in Iraq. It’s a fascinating phenomenon,” said Romano.
Romano encourages anyone in the community to come out to the panel discussion, and not only learn about the impacts of the Arab Spring, but to also debate and share their own experiences from the region. He says while the Middle East may be far away from the Ozarks, it should still matter to people in this community.
“At the panel if they want to know how it matters, the four of us would be happy to tick off a whole range of reason, from economic to political, and cultural, geostrategic, and military,” said Romano.
The panel discussion will take place Friday November 15th from 3-5pm in the Meyer Library Auditorium at Missouri State University.
For more information about the panel or panelists, find this story on our website, KSMU.org.
For KSMU News, I’m Shane Franklin.