Posted on September 16, 2011 in Viewpoint with James Zogby

H.R.H. Prince Turki Al Faisal, former Ambassador to the United States and United Kingdom, discussed a wide range of Middle East issues including the United States’ reaction to the forthcoming and highly anticipated United Nations vote on Palestinian state membership. In his most recent Op-Ed, which appeared in The New York Times, Prince Turki stated, “The United States must support the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations this month or risk losing the little credibility it has in the Arab world.” He also stated that if the U.S. vetoes the Palestinian bid at the U.N., the Saudis will not be able to cooperate with the U.S. in the same way as they have in the past.

Last night on Viewpoint, Prince Turki commented on the controversy surrounding the U.N. vote here in the United States. He said it was a mystery to him why the U.S. is adverse to the Palestinians seeking statehood at the U.N., citing that it was the U.N. which created the state of Israel. “Why should there be hysteria about Palestine being created by the U.N. Security Council? It doesn’t compute.” On American influence and credibility in the region, Prince Turki reiterated the point he made about the U.S.’s regional credibility in his column by saying “Obama’s speech in the Middle East has not done anything. Basically, it has ceded the leadership role in providing a strategy toward establishing peace in the Middle East.” Prince Turki went on to describe some ways in which U.S.-Saudi cooperation in the Middle East might shift if the U.N. were indeed to veto the Palestinian bid for statehood at the U.N.

@SultanAlQassemi, Columnist and Social Media Commentator, discussed the effect social media is having on societies in the Middle East and throughout the world. Mr. Al Qassemi explained that in addition to providing an essential forum for protestors and organizers to shape pro-democracy movements in the Middle East, social media is changing the mechanics of social interaction in the region by breaking down traditional norms and communications barriers. Al Qassemi also said that Twitter and Facebook have been important information sharing mediums which have “ended the monopoly that certain news organizations had on the news,” thereby diversifying information sources and providing wider exposure to various developments. Despite the positive aspects of social media, Al Qassemi said “the truth is social media is a two edged sword” and iterated that not all information sharing –especially personal information–is a positive thing.