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

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora