Posted on July 09, 2010 in Viewpoint with James Zogby

On Thursday’s edition of Viewpoint with James Zogby:DavidSedney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan;Hanan Ashrawi, Member of the PLOExecutive Committee and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC); Lara Friedman, Government Relations Director for Americans for Peace Now; Paula Yacoubian,Journalist and Host on Future News (Lebanon).

David Sedney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense forAfghanistan, discussed the current state of military operations in thatcountry and addressed many of the key issues facing the U.S. campaign. Sedney addressed what he called a “common perception” of failure relating to combating Taliban forces in Afghanistan: “The common perception that we’re failing I think is really the flip side of what’s really happening, which is the Taliban are failing.” Sedney continued todescribe many indicators of success on the ground, and overall expressed optimism that U.S. goals in Afghanistan will ultimately be accomplished: “…not only can we win this war, we will win this war.”


Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Member of the PLOExecutive Committee and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), critiqued this week’s meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Dr. HananAshrawi offered the perspective of Palestinians on the Israeli blockadeof Gaza stating unequivocally, “It’s a cruel, illegal, immoral war crime.” Declaring the Israeli changes to the blockade as a “verbal exercise,” Ashrawi noted that Palestinians living under the brutal siegehave yet to see any real changes. “The Palestinians judge things by what happens on the ground and they see no progress whatsoever,” she added.


Lara Friedman, Government Relations Director at Americans for Peace Now, also discussed the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu, but focused primarily on the issue of Israeli settlements andtheir affect on the peace process. “It will take another 9 to 12 monthsof freeze after the moratorium ends in September before you actually see a visible slowdown and that’s what Palestinians need to see to have any confidence”, she said. On the Obama administrations role relating tothe settlement issue, Friedman stated: “it’s going to be very difficultto press the freeze issue come September if they cannot deliver the Palestinians for direct talks.”


Paula Yacoubian, Journalist and Host on Future News (Lebanon), discussed Lebanon. Yacoubian spoke about Lebanon’s current economic and political status, and also described the overall mood in Lebanon, describing it as “festive”. “Lebanese and Arabs are coming to Lebanon to spend the summer”, she said. Though Yacoubian generally expressed a positive outlook on Lebanon, she did warn that the country has a potential to turn at any moment: “Living in Lebanon is like livingnext to a volcano, you never know when it’s going to erupt.” Yacoubian briefly discussed the firing of former CNN Senior Editor for Arab affairs, Octavia Nasr; “I couldn’t understand howcan CNN do something like that”, she said.