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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Interview with Scott MacLeod of "TIME" Magazine

Aired April 15, 2003 - 01:48   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: A little more on how all of these countries in the Middle East now view the United States, and to a certain extent, each other.
Scott MacLeod is "TIME" magazine's man in Cairo, and it's good to have him with us tonight.

The Egyptians look at -- the Egyptian government looks at these warnings that are being issued by the American government directed at the Syrians, and think what, do you think?

SCOTT MACLEOD, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, they are very nervous. That's the overriding emotion I think that we're seeing. Nobody really knows what to make of it.

And the fear always had been that the war in Iraq was just part of an overall plan to reshape the Middle East. And to some extent, the Egyptians wouldn't mind that, but what they're worried about is the Arab street and chaos all over the region. Iraq has not been put back together again, and if you had another confrontation with Syria that could create problems with Syria; also in neighboring Lebanon, where Syria basically is the dominant power in keeping things under control there.

So I think the Egyptians would be afraid that more and more American intervention in the region could lead to breakdowns and a rise in anti-Americanism. And, of course, the Egyptian government is pro-American, and any more anti-Americanism just undermines their position.

BROWN: Same true in Jordan? Or is it different with Jordan?

MACLEOD: All of the regimes in the region are nervous about instability, because most of the regimes have what I would call a fragile hold on power. So instability is something that makes them nervous, because, as we've seen in Iraq, the regime collapsed quite quickly at the end. There is a feeling that this could happen in other countries as well. So they're very worried about instability.

There is a kind of dichotomy here, because Syria has become quite isolated in the region. I mean, from a point, you know, maybe 20 years ago, where it had a leadership role and it was actually successful in many of its policies. today, it doesn't really have very many friends in the region among the Arab governments. Iraq is gone, and it always had bad relations with Iraq anyway.


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