But sympathy for Iran’s nuclear ambitions evident in the eruption of applause is perhaps the most surprising outcome of the debate, part of a monthly series organized here by the Qatar Foundation and hosted by former BBC “Hardtalk” host Tim Sebastian.
For years, Western diplomats and analysts have been advising their governments that Arabs view Iran’s nuclear program as a greater threat to regional stability than anything else, including longtime nuclear-armed nemesis Israel. But the response of an audience made up of mostly Anglophone Arab and Muslim elites as well as a smattering of expatriates suggests some support for Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“There is something called balance of power,” says one male in the audience. “As long as there is Israel, we need a nuclear bomb.”