News / USA

Obama Urges Peaceful Response to Protests in Mideast

President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference on the White House complex in Washington, February 15, 2011
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference on the White House complex in Washington, February 15, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +

President Barack Obama has again criticized Iran's government for its crackdown on opposition protesters.  The president used a news conference to address ramifications for the Middle East following what happened in Egypt and Tunisia, and also responded to criticisms of the $3.73 trillion budget he sent to Congress this week.

President Obama said governments must respond peacefully to peaceful protests in the wake of the anti-government rallies in Egypt that brought down former President Hosni Mubarak and a series of protests in other countries in the region in recent days, where authorities have cracked down. Mr. Obama said people must be allowed to voice their grievances.

The president turned to Iran where the government broke up an opposition rally on Monday.

"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 people who were trying to express themselves peacefully," said Obama.

Obama reiterated that real change in societies "is not going to happen because of terrorism… or killing innocents," but by people coming together and applying moral force.

On Iran, Obama said he was clear after mass demonstrations following Iran's elections in 2009, and is clear now, that people should be able to express grievances and seek a more responsive government.

Saying America cannot "ultimately dictate," but can lend moral support, he said the U.S. is concerned about stability in the region, but sends a consistent message.

"The message that we have sent, even before the demonstrations in Egypt, has been to friend and foe alike,  that the world is changing, that you have a young, vibrant generation within the Middle East, that is looking for greater opportunity and that if you are governing these countries, you have got to get out ahead of change, you can't be behind the curve," added Obama.

Obama rejected suggestions that his administration was too cautious in supporting protesters in Egypt.   "History will end up recording" he said that at "every juncture" the U.S. was on the right side of history.

What will achieve stability in the Middle East, he said, is for governments to provide avenues for mobility and opportunity, adding he believes governments are starting to understand that they cannot maintain power through coercion.

President Obama also addressed the dispute with Pakistan over a jailed U.S. diplomat, Raymond Davis, who has been accused of killing two people.  He said the matter involves the broader principle of diplomatic immunity that must be upheld, saying the U.S. has been "very firm" about the need for Mr. Davis's release.

The president also addressed criticism by opposition Republicans of his $3.73 trillion 2012 fiscal year budget, which proposes what he calls "tough choices," but which he says would result in no additions to the $14 trillion national debt by the middle of the decade.

Saying he is ready to work with Republicans, Mr. Obama rejected "symbolic cuts" he says might endanger economic recovery.  He said there will be tough negotiations on the budget, and on the larger issues of huge government "entitlement" programs, Medicare and Social Security.  

"The key thing that I think the American people want to see is that all sides are serious about it, and all sides are willing to give a little bit, and that there is a genuine spirit of compromise as opposed to people being interested in scoring political points," Obama said.

On proposed cuts to some government programs that help lower income citizens, the president said he feels people's pain, adding he is both inspired by people's strength, but also frustrated by the number of people struggling in the current economy.

Mr. Obama said his budget reflects growth in the economy and more business confidence now that the U.S. economy has moved away from crisis.  However, he says the job ahead is to look at medium and long term problems in a much more urgent and serious way.

The president said recommendations of a bipartisan fiscal commission, which proposed drastic cuts to deal with deficit spending and the debt, provided a "framework" for tough conversations.

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

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population 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.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid