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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid