Abu Aardvark notes “a particular complaint that I’ve heard a lot — the Lebanese, and especially allegedly Lebanese Christian — quality and tone of the programming. The editor in chief of a major Arab newspaper told me something very similar over the phone the other day — that Al Hurra [America’s new Arab-language sattelite channel] was poorly served by the Arabs running it.” That’s certainly not a claim I can evaluate, but it certainly wouldn’t be the first time America was ill-served by seemingly friendly Middle Eastern exile groups. Just saying.
More broadly, the US has a real penchant for trying to deal with just about every marginal ethno-religious group in the Middle East, from Israeli Jews to Turks to Kurds to Lebanese Christians to (to some extent) Shiites, while basically neglecting the Sunni Arab majority that’s at the core of the region. These other people are all fine people (well, I only once talked at length with a Turkish person and soon enough he was denying that there was ever an Armenian Genocide, but he seemed like a nice guy) but at the end of the day, the problem in America’s Middle East problem is really with Sunni Arabs and one has to face that fact. In our eagerness to find friends in the Middle East it’s natural that the more marginal groups would tend to be more welcoming of a powerful outsider, but it’s all too easy for us to get sucked into pursuing a Kurdish or Israeli or Arab Christian agenda that only leads us deeper-and-deeper into conflict with Sunni Arabs. At times this may be for the best. The fact that the Kurds are outnumbered doesn’t mean they don’t have legitimate interests that have often been in need of outside protection (protection which has tended not to be forthcoming) but these are things we need to have open eyes about.