Middle East

Your questions to Jeremy Bowen

Jeremy Bowen
Image caption Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen looks back at the key moments of the Arab uprising

BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen answered your questions on the Arab uprisings in a live Twitter Q&A on Friday 14 December 2012.

This is an edited version of the session.

Question from @leeh786: How long do you think Assad has left?

Jeremy answers: I don't know how long Assad has left. But the trend is clear. The regime's weakening and armed rebels getting stronger.

Question from @jamesdenselow: How do you assess the strengths and weaknesses of the media's coverage of the conflict in #Syria?

Jeremy answers: First hand reports are better than relying on second hand info. But now excellent from North, Damascus depends on visas.

Question from @pritoli89: what kind of regime could rule Syria after Assad? Secular or Islamist?

Jeremy answers: Not at all clear there'd be any regime at all if Assad falls suddenly

Question from @HotterThanCurry: The chemical weapons story was a lie, no visible proof of scud missiles launched. Why are we being fed these lies?

Jeremy answers: Be cautious about the Scud reports. Past history is a warning!

Question from @carolshorenye: BBC reports seem critical of Israel. Does the BBC recognise this bias and want to report more neutrally?

Jeremy answers: I don't think BBC is biased against Israel. Sometimes our reporting makes Israel's supporters uncomfortable

Question from @S_Bolus: What is the aftermath of Yemen's revolution? Seemed to drop completely off the media radar these days?

Jeremy answers: Yemen not getting enough coverage. Main problem bandwidth: too much happening elsewhere, plus dangers

Question from @JoeLordJones1: Is Morsi protecting or destroying Egyptian democracy with new constitution?

Jeremy answers: Morsi's policies and actions are divisive. Democracy will be strengthened if they can find a deal to end crisis

Question from @Bertie_Darling: I was wondering if you have any advice for a politics graduate who wants to get involved in war journalism?

Jeremy answers: First learn how to be a journalist. Then decide how much you like danger, discomfort and big challenges!

Question from @ElleGeorgieva: Why do you think the West is not actively supporting the rebels in Syria?

Jeremy answers: West is supporting Syrian rebels more and more actively. Limit to how much they can do at arm's length.

Question from @stockmarkettrac: Do you gather that Egyptians hope of a stable government is starting to wane?

Jeremy answers: Egyptian political stability needs constitution deal and an economy that provides for the people. Unlikely for now

Question from @MiddleEastMnt: How important has media coverage of Arab Uprisings been in development of foreign policy?

Jeremy answers: Very important. Uprisings fed off each other via TV and web. western governments very conscious of 24/7 news cycle

Question from @JackMendel4: Do you think a two-state solution is still a viable option?

Jeremy answers: Two-state solution viable if both sides want it. Hamas and Israeli government showing signs they don't.

Question from @redemptivestate: How safe is Cairo for 'mixed' ethnicity family to visit their Egyptian family and stay in an urban home?

Jeremy answers: It's unstable. Not relaxing. Be careful, stay away from demos you should be OK. Crime a problem too.

Question from @cruachan8520: What and where has been your scariest moment?

Jeremy answers: Scariest place ever was Grozny winter of 1994/5. Worst day was when Israelis killed BBC fixer in Lebanon in 2000.

Question from @MaaaarvY: Why is nobody intervening in Syria to get Assad but went into an illegal war in Iraq to capture Saddam Hussein?

Jeremy answers: Partly because they've learnt from Iraq that illegal military intervention can create catastrophic consequences.

Question from @amanda_westwood: How could the Middle East look in five years? Worst realistic scenario?

Jeremy answers: Good people taking responsibility for themselves. But change destabilising and sadly more instability coming. Next phase could be even more centred on sectarian problems, especially Shia-Sunni divide.

Question from @moho114: Do you think Qatar's new found diplomatic status is having a positive impact on Middle Eastern politics?

Jeremy answers: Top diplomat described Qatar to me recently as 'cowboy' of Mideast. Qatar most wants positive impact for itself.

Question from @24_Humza: Why is there lack of media coverage in regards to Israeli settlement buildings? seems to have disappeared now.

Jeremy answers: It comes in fits and starts. Issue doesn't change much and Middle East busy so settlements can't always be in spotlight. Israel Palestinian conflict still fundamental issue in Middle East and will make many more headlines, as Gaza crisis showed

Question from @OliverOfficial: Do you believe Syria/Bahrain/Kuwait are genuine uprisings or wider proxy war?

Jeremy answers: Elements of both. last two years of Arab uprisings now tangled with region's existing conflicts.

Question from @o_salha: Is it fair to say Lebanon is a microcosm of Middle East conflicts and unrest? Solving Lebanon may bring peace to the region?

Jeremy answers: Lebanon is a microcosm but more of a barometer of trouble than key to future peace

Question from @OliverOfficial: How do you think the Iranian elections next year will unfold, re-run of 2009?

Jeremy answers: Not exactly, as regime will vet candidates more strictly. Could be catalyst for opposition making moves

Question from @RustyCart: is there any hard evidence of AQ operatives in Syria?

Jeremy answers: Evidence of jihadists. small number, probably on the up. Not to be confused with Islamists who aren't jihadists

Question from @MEDINACAFE: what is your favourite mideast food?

Jeremy answers: The incredibly interesting and varied cuisine of all of Jerusalem's communities. And hungry reporters love falafel and shwarma

Question from @myers_keil: how did you get your start reporting in the Middle East?

Jeremy answers: Being sent to Saudi Arabia after Saddam invaded Kuwait, then being in Baghdad for 1991 war

Question from @AChowdhury: I hear its increasingly difficult to break into journalism if you don't study at Oxbridge. Do I have any hope?

Jeremy answers: I didn't study at Oxbridge, and people thought it was compulsory when I started too!

That's all folks. I'm back in London after almost a month on the road in Middle East and it's time to buy a Christmas tree. Apologies to all those whose questions didn't get answered. Interaction very stimulating for me, thanks to all who took part.

For more tweets from Jeremy Bowen you can follow his Twitter account: @bowenbbc.

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