In this special episode, we sat down with Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, founder of global nonprofit Ideas Beyond Borders, on what China’s growing presence in the Middle East means, not just for the United States but the world.
Al Mutar had his own journey to America: 20 years ago, he witnessed U.S. tanks roll down the streets of Baghdad when he was 12. A few weeks later, Saddam’s statue toppled. Al Mutar survived the Iraq civil war, the tragic murder of his older brother, and multiple kidnapping attempts before becoming a refugee in the United States in 2013. He’s since worked to counter extremism and misinformation on a global scale for several decades.
Al Mutar noted, “One of the main things that I’m scared about China is the selling of surveillance technology to countries around the Middle East. So we might be waking up in a near future where it will become very difficult to communicate ideas to people in the Middle East, because of the fact that Chinese censorship tools are very advanced. And many autocrats in the region love them.”
As for what happened to the U.S.-led international order, he said: “The U.S. needs to kind of discover what it really wants. I mean, I’ve been in conversation with people from different administrations over the question of the Middle East. And really, the idea is that the U.S., generally now, it’s moving towards isolationism. So the argument right now is that if it’s not really affecting us directly, why do we bother? We have already lost in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
“I think that this is really a battle of fighting for the soul of America,” he added.
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