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

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid