News / Middle East

Change in Egypt Focuses Attention on Other Countries in Middle East

Anti-government protester shout slogans during a demonstration in Sanaa, February 15, 2011
Anti-government protester shout slogans during a demonstration in Sanaa, February 15, 2011

New anti-government protests are springing up in the Middle East in the wake the massive protests and leadership change in Egypt. And that presents both opportunities and obstacles for U.S. foreign policy in the region.

One country, one people's demand for change.  The U.S. government initially reacted with caution to the Egyptian protests -- until near the end, when President Barack Obama made it clear that he supported a new government. "The people of Egypt have spoken.  Their voices have been heard," he said.

And others are being heard -- across the Middle East. That leaves the Obama administration to decide how to respond, and whom to support.

In Bahrain, riot police interrupt what started out as peaceful demonstrations.  Police killed  two protesters in the first two days.

In Yemen, battles are between student protesters, government loyalists and police.  Demonstrators want the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has already agreed not to seek re-election.

Amateur video in Libya, show protesters calling for the outster of Moammar Gadhafi, their country's leader for the last 42 years.  

Police beat back mainly Shi'ite protesters who took to the streets in Tehran.   The protests there are the largest in Iran since the 2009 disputed election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Iranian police violence brought a rebuke from Mr. Obama. "I find it ironic that you’ve got the Iranian regime pretending to celebrate what happened in Egypt when, in fact, they have acted in direct contrast to what happened in Egypt, by gunning down and beating a people who were trying to express themselves peacefully in Irank," Mr. Obama said.

James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation says the president should go further.  "The U.S. should continue maximum pressure on the regime to try to drive a wedge between regime and its people.  [They] can do that through increased sanctions at the U.N. Security Council," he said.

But U.S. policy in the Middle East makes different demands on different countries. "So with our friends, we have a very consistent message: There has to be change," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview with the U.S. government funded al-Hurra TV.

James Zogby of the Arab American Institute says that makes the U.S. policy seem uneven.  "The governments that are in trouble are the governments that have supported us and whose support we have insisted upon as we have pursued policies that were wildly unpopular at home.  So to now switch sides just is unseemly," he said.

Zogby says that results in people being upset at the U.S. for supporting autocratic rulers, and the rulers upset at the U.S. for  supporting protesters when the momentum changes.

Zogby also says the U.S. loses credibility in the Arab world for not criticizing Israel and moving the peace process forward. "We should be voting for, not against the U.N. resolution on settlements and back up that with clout," he said.

U.S. foreign policy, and America's support for Israel, are always part of the equation in the Middle East. And the Obama administration says once change takes hold in the region, protesters will put their energy toward new opportunities, instead of anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments. Right now, the possibility of new opportunities is what fuels protests there.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More