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Speech by HE Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani The Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar
 

Welcome speech by H.E Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Jabr Al Thani, Minister's Assistant For International Cooperation Affairs, Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Organizing Conferences
 
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Official: White House 'stood on the side of change' since start of Arab Spring
2012-05-30

The United States has been on the side of citizens fighting for their rights since the very beginning of the Arab Spring 18 months ago, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough told a Middle Eastern audience Wednesday.

Throughout his remarks at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Qatar, McDonough sought to convey the idea that the White House has stayed true to President Obama's promise during his well-received 2009 speech in Cairo that promised a “new beginning” anchored in “mutual interest and mutual respect.” The forum is convened by the Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World in partnership with the State of Qatar.

“The theme of this year’s Forum is timely: Across the Middle East and North Africa, a new generation is rising, raising its voice and seeking a new direction,” McDonough said in prepared remarks. “The challenges and opportunities of this change are things that President Obama understands well. In fact, bringing about change has been central to his life in public service and it shapes his approach to American foreign policy, especially in this region.”

McDonough went on to draw a sharp distinction with the situation when Obama took office in 2009, a time, he said, when U.S.-Arab relations were “either frayed or stagnant” as a result of the war in Iraq and other policies pursued by George W. Bush.
“So let me speak candidly about the role of the United States,” he said. “First, history will show that we stood on the side of change from the beginning of these events.

“We embraced the transformation in Tunisia. We sided with the aspirations of citizens on the streets in Egypt, even though the United States knew very well the leader that was overthrown, because we believe Egypt is made stronger by electing a government that is responsive to its people. We led an intervention to protect the Libyan people. We worked diligently, for months — literally months — to support the transition of power that has taken place in Yemen. And in countries like Bahrain, which I just visited, Morocco and Jordan, we have been advocates for reform. And in Syria, we stand for the dignity of the Syrian people, who deserve a new government that represents its citizens instead of killing them.”

The record on the ground is a little more nuanced, however.

In Yemen, the White House backed a deal to transfer power from war on terror ally President Ali Abdullah Saleh to his deputy Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi following an uncontested election. In Bahrain, home of the U.S. Navy's 5th fleet, the U.S. continues to support a government that crushed a popular uprising last year by the Shiite majority. And in Syria, the White House has so far refused to take additional measures such as arming rebel forces or guaranteeing the safety of humanitarian corridors.

The Hill