Obama Speaks on Middle East Policy at UN
On September 25, President Barack Obama spoke at the U.N. General Assembly focusing heavily on foreign policy in the Middle East. His speech addressed recent violence directed at U.S. embassies, reiterated the administration’s support for democratic reform, encouraged religious tolerance, and defended freedom of speech. The president also echoed the recent remarks of Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi by condemning extremism and violent protests, and encouraging offended parties to uphold the principles of the United Nations by resolving conflicts through peaceful discourse. President Obama praised Libyan, Yemini, Egyptian, and Tunisian leaders for providing assistance to foreign diplomatic stations during recent waves of violence.
In regards to the rest of the region, Obama made it clear that he advocates for a “secure Jewish state of Israel…an independent…Palestine,” and stated that “the Assad regime in Syria must come to an end.” Obama then labeled the Iranian regime as “violent and unaccountable” in ideology, oppressive towards its citizens’ rights, supportive of terrorism, and responsible for propping up a “dictator in Damascus.” Obama reiterated, “the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” however he also stated that the U.S. would not “seek to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions abroad.”
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney also shed light on his foreign policy goals for the Middle East at the Clinton Global Initiative on the same day. Romney tied the root of the Arab Spring to lack of job opportunities for youth in the region and emphasized the importance of foreign aid in helping create jobs. Romney stated, if elected, he would help remove barriers to private foreign investment in the region, in hopes of developing free enterprise and institutions of “liberty, the rule of law, and property rights.” Both Romney and Obama championed the virtue of technology and free flow of information in facilitating progress in the region.