Barack Obama gave his most significant address on the Middle East since his 2009 Cairo speech on Thursday. Emphasizing values over the strategic interests of the United States, the President expressed his support for all the Arab Spring movements and their cause of liberty and democracy. He also laid out in concrete terms what U.S. policy will be towards each of the crisis areas of the Middle East. The speech strongly condemned not only Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, but also Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the government of Bahrain. Obama’s most ambitious new policy proposal was a concrete plan for the Arab-Israeli peace process: a demilitarized but sovereign Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.
The full text of President Obama’s speech is below, with the most crucial and relevant sections bolded. We welcome your comments on the speech.
We seem again to be learning the wrong lessons of the significance of the Middle East upheavals. Last Thursday, the Washington Post had a editorial entitled “Last on Libya,” which wrongly criticized President Obama for what they characterized as “President Obama’s response to a dictator’s atrocities.”
The fact is that any president has to weigh not only long term but also short term impacts of what he says as well as its costs. I personally would have desired a stronger response to the actions of Gaddafi, but as a former diplomat, I also know that he had to balance the safety of American citizens and embassy personnel still in Libya with how best to respond to fast moving events. Continue reading
An article on CNN.com discusses the unrest throughout the Middle East country by country, as well as discussing the roots of the unrest. The areas of Libya, Iran, Tunisia, Oman, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Mauritania, Jordan, Algeria, Djibouti, Kuwait, Sudan, Syran, Morocco and the Palestinian territories are mentioned in the article; it gives an overview of countries that have experienced intense protests as well as those countries where unrest is stirring.
David Kirkpatrick and David Sanger published an article in the NYTimes today, “A Tunisian-Egyptian Link That Shook Arab History,” discussing the role of technology in Egypt’s revolution. The young generation of protesters in Egypt used the force of Tunisia’s revolution and advice from protesters from older political movements. The article describes how online democratic participation fueled a revolution strong enough to overthrow the 30-year leader, Hosni Mubarak.
“Young Egyptian and Tunisian activists brainstormed on the use of technology to evade surveillance, commiserated about torture and traded practical tips on how to stand up to rubber bullets and organize barricades.”
“’Tunis is the force that pushed Egypt, but what Egypt did will be the force that will push the world,’ said Walid Rachid, one of the members of the April 6 Youth Movement, which helped organize the Jan. 25 protests that set off the uprising.