For the past forty years the images flashing across our television screens from the Middle East have provoked anger, outrage and, sometimes, military action from the international community. But the stories behind them were rarely understood.
In 2011 the revolutions of the Arab Spring changed everything. Now, the handful of dictators who ruled brutally over hundreds of millions of people – Hosni Mubarak, Ben Ali, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad – have gone, or are fighting for their lives. They have left behind countries in turmoil, the people forced to re-examine their identities and regional loyalties, and to decide what role Islam will play in their lives and their politics. The collapse of the old order has left the West scrambling to make sense of a region it hardly recognises. If the people of the Arab world can now speak openly for the first time, then it is also the West's first chance to listen. And there are many questions to be answered.
Drawing on compelling first-hand reporting from Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Israel, Syria and Tunisia, and deep knowledge of the region's history and access to many of its key players, BBC Bureau Chief Paul Danahar lays bare the forces that are shaping the new Middle East.
Paul Danahar was the BBC's Middle East Bureau Chief (2010–13) and ran the organisation's news coverage of the Arab Spring. He was awarded an MBE in 2003 for his work as the Baghdad Bureau Chief during the American-led invasion. Prior to his present posting he was the BBC's East Asia Bureau Chief for three years, and previous to that he was the BBC's South Asia Bureau Chief, covering the rise, fall and eventual return of the Taliban. He is one of a small number of journalists to have worked in all three countries that make up the so-called 'Axis of Evil': Iraq, Iran and North Korea. In 2013 he was appointed the BBC's North America Bureau Chief, based in Washington.
Follow him at @pdanahar.