News / Middle East

White House Sends Strong Message to Iran

President Barack Obama makes a statement on the resignation of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in the Grand Foyer at the White House, February 11, 2011
President Barack Obama makes a statement on the resignation of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in the Grand Foyer at the White House, February 11, 2011

President Obama's remarks Friday about Egypt contained strong words in support of people seeking freedom and justice throughout history, and around the world. Mr. Obama's remarks were followed by some of the strongest language heard to date from the White House about Iran.

Though he did not mention Iran specifically, President Obama did speak Friday of what he described as the moral force of non-violence that in Egypt he said had "bent the arc of history toward justice."

Noting that the word Tahrir - the name of the square in Cairo that was the epicenter of the protests - means liberation, the president said it would from now on remind the world of what the Egyptian people did to change their country and the world.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was pressed repeatedly by reporters about whether the president and his administration believe that what occurred in Egypt could happen in other countries in the region, such as Jordan and Iran.

In Iran, while the government welcomed the uprising that forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down, it also clamped down on the Iranian opposition, and blocked international media and the Internet.

Gibbs said the reaction of the Iranian government provides a contrast to events in Egypt.

"There is quite a contrast between the way the government of Egypt and the people of Egypt are interacting, and the government of Iran is threatening its very own people," he said. "I think, if the government of Iran was as confident as they would have you believe, in the statements that they put out, they would have nothing to fear with a peaceful demonstration like those you have seen in Cairo and throughout Egypt."

On the question of ripple effects from Egypt in the region and elsewhere, Gibbs repeated a standard response, that the U.S. supports basic universal rights, and believes that governments have a responsibility to uphold them.

When a reporter asked whether events in Egypt would result in any specific adjustment of U.S. policy when it comes to "other oppressive states" around the world, Gibbs said the U.S. presses nations constantly on the need to support basic rights.

"We have these conversations directly with governments throughout the world," he said.  "Again, I mention what happened not too long ago with the government of China that resulted in the leader of the Chinese saying there was much work to be done."

In his remarks on Egypt, President Obama said it was the "moral force of non-violence, not terrorism [or] mindless killing" that bent the arc of history toward justice.

Press Secretary Gibbs was asked if these words mean that the Obama administration is now arguing that expressions of popular discontent, such as the events in Egypt, will work against recruitment efforts by extremist groups.

The president's words, he said, had very specific meaning, and he added that what was seen in Egypt contrasts with groups like al-Qaida that he said "have killed people that share their religious belief in order to scare and to terrorize."

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

You May Like

Nearly 900 Dead, Missing in 2014 Air Disasters

Southeast Asia took a particularly heavy hit; 3 major events involved weather, two planes were shot down in eastern Ukraine, and one crash was attributed to mechanical problems More

Video Islamic State Emergence Transformed Syria, Iraq in 2014

'It was very clear that there were problems building up in Iraq at the end of 2013 but everybody was distracted by Syria,' says one expert, explaining group's rapid rise More

Rights Group: IS Executed Nearly 2,000 in Syria in 6 Months

Islamist group also killed 120 of its own members, most foreign fighters trying to return home, in past two months, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights 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.
Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaisei
X
Daniel Schearf
December 25, 2014 4:34 PM
Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video 2014 Saw Intensification of Boko Haram Insurgency

The year 2014 saw Nigerian militant sect Boko Haram intensify its five-year insurgency and target civilians in large numbers as it seized territory in the northeast. The kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Chibok in April sparked global outrage, but failed to become the turning point against the sect that Nigeria’s president said it would be. The picture at year's end is one of devastation and uncertainty. VOA’s Anne Look reports.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Fight to Survive Water Crisis

In a region choking from dwindling water supplies, Lebanon has long been regarded as one of the few places where there is enough. But in recent years, half the people in the country have faced severe shortages. And the more than 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon are hit the worst by the water crisis, making the country's most vulnerable people increasingly impoverished and sick. Heather Murdock reports for VOA in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid