BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen has said the West is “walking on thin ice” when it comes to democracy in the Middle East at the Edinburgh International Book Festival yesterday.
In a talk dominated by questions about Syria, the senior BBC journalist highlighted the need to allow countries in the region to develop the necessary democratic structures: “People in Arab countries want to have a say in their lives the same way as everyone else… you need a
constitution and with it the appropriate checks and balances.”
Responding candidly to questions about the developing situation in Syria, Bowen stated there was “no doubt” that the chemical attack took place last Wednesday, and that to fake it “you’d have to be Stephen Spielberg.”
The journalist divulged the tribulations of working as a war correspondent, explaining that he wants to spend more time with his family, and is no longer afraid to say “no” to the BBC.
Bowen also raised questions about what the Assad regime would set out to achieve by attacking its own citizens with chemical agents.
“The thing about chemical weapons is that they’re cheap and easy to make. But why would the
Assad regime be that daft? That’s the one flaw in the argument...it’s not in their interest to do it.”
Regarding potential military responses from Britain and America, Bowen told The Scotsman that “the likelihood is military action” and that any reaction from the Americans is likely to be decisive:
“What’s most important is that America and Britain...they’ve decided that they’ve done it.
Obama’s put his reputation on the line by saying “it’s a red line, don’t cross it”… now he’s going to change the game.”