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Former U.S. Ambassadors discuss Arab Spring, future of Middle East nations

Four former U.S. Ambassadors to the Middle East and North Africa say the signs of a revolution were in place before the Arab Spring began in 2010.

The Ambassadors spoke Monday at UNO about events in north Africa and the Middle East. The events in the Middle East known as the Arab Spring began in 2010 in Tunisia, and spread to Egypt shortly thereafter.

Ron Neumann, former U.S. Ambassador to Algeria, Bahrain, and Afghanistan, says one of the lessons learned from the Arab Spring is that U.S. foreign policy must go beyond a regional focus.

"In many cases, what we need is an incredible infusion of bilateral policies. It’s far less a matter of having a regional policy or a huge strategic understanding than it is of a set of policies that are oriented both to our interests but to the particularities of the countries in which they have to operate."

Edward Walker Jr., who served as Ambassador to Israel, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, says high unemployment, instant communication, and changing demographics all contributed to the revolution in Egypt. Walker says the overthrow of Tunisia’s leader demonstrated to other Middle East nations that change was possible.