The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997


Sir John Major’s Comments on the Changes in the Middle East – 10 March 2011

The text of Sir John Major’s comments on the changes in the Middle East, made in a television interview on 10th March 2011.


I think what’s happening is world changing. I think this is as big an event as the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 80s and early 90s. It’s that big and it’s going to have very far reaching ramifications. And some of the most interesting factors are what has not happened. For twenty years we have worried about Islamist influence and over-throwing governments and militant Islamist governments in the Middle East.

And what has actually happened has been a grass-roots revolution led by young people, inspired by the Internet and Facebook and the social networks, and satellite television, and against political and economic matters. There’s been no flag burning, no Islamist significance. Indeed terror bodies such as Al-Qaeda seem almost irrelevant and may seem so in the future.

Why should people join terror groups, if peaceful action by a mass population can change governments in the way we have seen.

So I think there a lot of very long-term implications of what has happened that we haven’t begun to examine.

[Sir John Major was asked about the 80s and 90s and whether the Kuwaiti Royal Family should be concerned]

I think down the Gulf the circumstances will probably stay pretty much as they are, except I think there will be reforms. Reforms have been promised in a number of countries, I think they will take place. There may be changes of Ministerial personnel, there will be reforms. Their Parliaments perhaps will get more power.

So I think perhaps the Gulf is a little separate from elsewhere. What may be a bigger difference is the implication on the whole region over the next few years. The extent to which the Arab identity, the instinct of Arab nationalism rather than Islamism actually becomes embedded.
We can’t be certain how that will pan out yet, but it will change, we can be certain of that. And when this has bedded down in the next five or ten years, the world will look different in the way it looks today.