News / USA

Obama Strategy on Arab Spring Served US Interests

A year after the Arab Spring protests began, some regional experts say, the US administration's strategy in regards to the popular uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa have paid off.
A year after the Arab Spring protests began, some regional experts say, the US administration's strategy in regards to the popular uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa have paid off.

President Barack Obama's cautious response to the popular uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa has drawn frequent criticism. But a year after the Arab Spring protests began, some regional experts say, the administration’s strategy paid off.

December 17, 2010, in Tunisia. A street vendor, Mohamed Bouaziz, sets himself on fire in a protest against government policies and dies, becoming the catalyst for a Tunisian revolution and the Arab Spring.

Within months, demonstrations arise in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is ousted.

And by year's end, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is dead.

The U.S. and NATO provided air support to protect civilians against government forces in Libya.

US backs Arab reform

But the Arab Spring proved hard to predict. Leaders both friendly and unfriendly to the U.S. fell, and it wasn't until May that Obama firmly put the U.S. on the side of Arab reform.

"We support political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa that can meet the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region. Our support for these principles is not a secondary interest," said Obama.

Eventual support by the U.S. for the Arab Spring prompted criticism that the administration had not been as supportive of Iranian protesters in 2009. But U.S. presidents often face difficult decisions where revolutions are concerned, said Walter Russell Mead, professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College.

"I think the idea that an American president of any party can sort of figure out from day one the deep master plan for dealing with revolutionary transformations in half a dozen strategically important countries, you know when you put it that way you realize that you can't," said Mead.

Applying key values


Obama based U.S. policy on core principles: opposing violence, universal rights and the right of people to choose their own leaders.

Were his calculations correct? Yes, says Kurt Werthmuller, a researcher at the Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom.

“I think we do have to address that, there has been a relationship, there has been an inspiration from one place to another, but every part of the Arab world is unique," said Werthmuller.

Hurdles ahead

Samuel Tadros of the Hudson Institute said that while Obama was correct to not take a single, blanket approach, rapidly moving events at times drove administration policies.

"The administration’s answer to the Arab Spring very much reflected this interest in not being sidelined by the events of history, of jumping into the wagon of what was obviously taking place. And thus in many cases, an initial cautiousness that should have been there was removed and the street was driving the action rather than a clear policy in that regard," said Tadros.

Tadros and other regional experts caution that events in the Middle East are part of a long-term transformation, with risks, including the potential rise of Islamism in Egypt and potential civil war in Syria. They say the process will take decades to play out and will remain a challenge for U.S. presidents.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid