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MEDIO ORIENTE Y AFRICA DEL NORTE

El Medio Oriente: La Crisis en Siria

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altOrígenes del conflicto

El régimen de al-Assad primero entra en el poder en 1970 luego de un benigno golpe de estado que estableció el gobierno en manos de Hafiz al-Assad, el padre del presidente actual Bashar al-Assad. Hafiz al-Assad en su entrada al gobierno estableció un régimen autoritario que mantuvo el país en una ley de emergencia interpuesta primeramente en 1962. Bajo la constitución Siria, el presidente se le atribuye el derecho a declarar un estado de emergencia, el cual le extirpa a los ciudadanos de la mayoría de los derechos ciudadanos y a la vez le otorga un poder ilimitado al gobierno con relación a la seguridad domestica. Con la habilidad de arrestar, detener y ejecutar a cualquier opositor cuando le parezca conveniente, el gobierno bajo el mando de Hafiz al-Assad estaba capacitado para intimidar y desalentar a los ciudadanos de alguna protesta en masa. Consecuentemente, al-Assad estuvo habilitado de contener la resistencia popular con una facilidad parcial hasta 1976, donde se marco el comienzo de la insurrección comandad por los organización fundamentalista Sunni, la hermandad Musulmana.

 El levantamiento fue violentamente destrozado en 1982, cuando las fuerzas armadas Sirias irrumpieron la ciudad de Hama, quitándoles la vida a más de 10,000 ciudadanos Sirios. La masacre de Hama le demostró a los Sirios que al-Assad no dudaba al momento de usar violencia en contra de sus propias personas y, en efecto, los desquito hasta el más mínimo pensamiento de levantarse ante el mando del presidente una próxima vez. A pesar de varias violaciones a los derechos humanas y continuas negaciones de derechos constitucionales, los Sirios se mantuvieron reacios a protestar nuevamente hasta el la muerte de al-Assad en el 2000, luego de 30 años en el poder. No mucho cambió luego de la muerte de Assad, sin embargo, el parlamento de manera conspirativa ratificó una enmienda cambiando la edad minima del presidente de 40 a 34 años, lo cual le brindo la oportunidad al hijo de al-Assad, Bashar, a tomar el mando del país inmediatamente.

Muchos tuvieron grandes expectativas de cambio con el nuevo gobierno de Bashar y muchos Sirios estaban pacientemente esperando por más de una década por reformas económicas y humanitarias. No obstante, la paciencia de los ciudadanos no fue suficiente. El fracaso de Bashar en brindar los cambios prometidos creo un descontento que motivaron pequeñas protestas en Enero de ese mismo año. La situación se escaló en Marzo luego de que las fuerzas militares Sirias atacaran a los civiles que protestaban en contra del detenimiento de los jóvenes Sirios en la ciudad de Deraa en el suroeste del país. Como su homologo Muammar Gadhafi de Libia, al-Assad culpa los levantamientos a las conspiraciones y el extremismo Islam. Originalmente, los protestantes Sirios no demandaban el cambio de régimen ni el departo de al-Assad. Sin embargo, los continuos ataques a protestantes causó constantes ultrajes y ahora los Sirios demandan que al-Assad deje el poder.

 


        Actores Internos                                                                          Actores Externos

  • República Arabe de Syria                                                            Las Naciones Unidas (UN)
  • Presidente Bashar al-Assad                                                        La Unión Europea (UE)
  • Protestantes pro-democráticos                                                    Los Estados Unidos de America (EEUU)

 

 


altSituación Actual

Después de 48 años, la ley de emergencia en Siria fue finalmente derrochada por el presidente Bashar al-Assad en abril. El presidente sirio también otorgo ciudadanía a miles de Kurdos, liberó distintos prisioneros políticos y reemplazó su gabinete presidencial completo en un intento de mejorar la relación con los protestantes alrededor del país. Estas concesiones no fueron suficientes para los protestantes y estos siguen tomando las calles demandando que el presidente deje el poder. Una de las protestas más grandes hasta la fecha ocurrió la última semana cuando 10,000 Sirios se reunieron en Hama, la cuarta ciudad más grande de Siria. La protesta no obstante se mantuvo de manera pacifica gracias al retiro de las fuerzas de seguridad, pero muchos temen a que otras fuerzas armadas del presidente vallan a contrarrestar el movimiento pronto.

Para evitar la violencia en Hama y otras ciudades mayores, más de 10,000 Sirios han tomado refugio en Turquía y muchos más esperan tomar partida del país pronto. No obstante, la comunidad musulmana Shia en Turquía ha protestado en contra de permitir predominantemente refugiados Sunnis de Siria hacia el país. Muchos turcos apoyan a al-Assad y están constantemente criticando los que tratan de evadir el conflicto. Si una violencia se provoca de parte de los refugiados sirios en Turquía, el conflicto indudablemente va a llamar la atención de las Naciones Unidas y convertirse en una crisis más globalizada. La comunidad internacional ya ha condenado constantemente a Siria por su continuo uso de violencia en contra de los protestantes hasta ahora. La Unión Europea y los Estados Unidos ambos han impuesto sanciones económicas a Siria por sus violaciones a los derechos humanos pero parece improbable alguna intervención militar. De hecho, la OTAN recientemente anuncio que no tomaría ninguna operación militar en Siria como lo ha hecho en Libia.

 

La posición de las Naciones Unidas

El Secretario General Ban Ki-moon ha denominado la violencia utilizada en contra de protestantes como “inaceptable” y ha insistido en que el gobierno sirio le de fin a todo tipo de violencia en contra de sus ciudadanos. Las Naciones Unidas actualmente demandan acceso a sus trabajadores para brindar ayuda humanitaria a los ciudadanos sirios en busca de comida, agua y suministros médicos. A pesar de peticiones de la Unión Europea, sin embargo, el Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas aun no ha tomado acciones en Siria. Aun no se tiene conocimiento de si las Naciones Unidas intervendrán en el conflicto si o no.


Más información:

Conflict in Morocco

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Origin of the Conflict

altAfter the signing of the Tripartite Agreement of Madrid in 1975, Western Sahara, former Spanish colony, was handed over to Morocco and Mauritania in exchange for political and economic compensation. Shortly after, on February 27th, 1976 the independence of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic was proclaimed in the town of Bir Lehlu, capital of the territory liberated by the Polisario Front. In 1989 the UN drew up a peace plan that implemented a referendum on self-determination of Western Sahara. This peace plan was accepted by the different parties involved in the conflict. In 1983 l'Associació Catalana d'Friends of Poble Sahrawi (ACAPS) was created with the intention to promote and coordinate the political and humanitarian support of Catalonia to the Saharawi people. 

The UN Security Council received strong pressure from countries like USA, France, and Britain for the integration of Western Sahara to Morocco as autonomy. Meanwhile, the Spanish government showed a rather ambiguous position. In this regard, the Council failed to agree and adopt a strong position despite the fact that in February 2002 the then UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, posed an ultimatum to take a decision on the proposals that had already emerged: self-determination referendum, integration with Morocco as autonomy, partition of territory, or permanent abandonment of the area. In July 2002, unanimously, the UN Security Council adopted the resolution 1429 which was seen by many as "a victory for the Saharawi people and the international law." 

In January 2003 Kofi Annan called on the international community again to work towards ending the tragedy of the Saharawi people and requested an extension of two months to the mandate of MINURSO in Western Sahara. At the end of March 2003 the Security Council adopted a new resolution, 1469, to extend the mandate of MINURSO for ten months and allow time for the different parties to study the proposal by James Baker, Kofi Annan’s special envoy, of integration of Western Sahara as Moroccan territory. Once again any decision regarding the resolution of this conflict was postponed. The plan was never implemented and James Baker resigned shortly after. 

In November 2010 the region was militarized by Moroccan troops after the worst scenes of violence in years were seen between the parties. The entrance of Moroccans to a protest camp on the outskirts of Laayoune, Western Sahara's capital, sparked a wave of protests and riots which death toll is impossible to confirm due to the absence of impartial observers. The riots coincided with a new round of negotiations in New York under the auspices of the United Nations between the government of Morocco, which claims the territory as an autonomous region, and the Polisario Front, an organization fighting for independence. However, the meeting ended with a single agreement: both parties rejected the proposal of the other, leaving the talks still stalled. 

 

Internal Actors

External Actors

Polisario Front UN
Saharawi People Algeria
Kingdom of Morocco Spain
UN Security Council (UNSC) World Help Program (PAM)
Catalan Association of Friends of the Saharawi People (ACAPS) United Nations High Commission for Refugees (ACNUR)

 

Current Situation

altAfter the negotiations that took place in November 2010 in New York, a project was drafted in April 2011 to possibly solve the problem in the Sahara. The Polisario Front, which seeks the independence of Western Sahara, said that the draft UN resolution on the future of the former Spanish colony "is not enough." The resolution, which is supported by the US, UK, Europe, and Russia, highlights "the importance of improving the situation of human rights" in Western Sahara, but does not indicate the mechanisms to do so. Since 1991 there is a ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario Front which is overseen by the UN. While the Moroccan government offered limited autonomy in the territory, the Polisario and neighboring Algeria want there to be a referendum on independence. 

Now that Morocco is being swayed by the Arab spring protests, the situation in Western Sahara is even more uncertain. The king has just passed a constitutional amendment, satisfying many Moroccans who did not want the king to lie down from his throne, but were not the most satisfied with the political and economic situation the country us living. But who is there to defend the Saharawi people and to assert their rights as human beings? If the international community, whether the UN or any other international organization, does not take firm and concrete action to resolve the conflict soon, the Saharawi population will become extinct. Since the beginning of the 20th century the Saharawi people, as a strategy of the king to have legitimate rights to the land, are a minority against Moroccan people in Western Sahara.

 

UN’s Position 

For the UN, Western Sahara remains a territory awaiting decolonization. Morocco has never been recognized as the administering power of the territory. The International Tribunal in The Hague also spoke about the conflict and concluded that there is "no tie of territorial sovereignty between Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco."

 

More Information

http://www.sahara-online.net/esp/HistoriadelSahara/HistoriadelconflictodelSahara.aspx

http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/2011/04/24/97001-20110424FILWWW00154-le-polisario-accuse-paris.php

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/opinion/19kristof.html?scp=2&sq=morocco%20sahara&st=cse
 

By Jatnna Garcia, CDRI Intern

Conflicto en Marruecos

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Origen del Conflicto

altTras la firma de los Acuerdos Tripartitos de Madrid en 1975, el Sáhara Occidental, antigua colonia española, fue entregado a Marruecos y Mauritania a cambio de compensaciones políticas y económicas. Poco tiempo después, el 27 de febrero de 1976 se proclamó en la ciudad de Bir lehlu, capital del territorio liberado por el Frente Polisario, la Independencia de la República Árabe Saharaui Democrática. En 1989 la ONU diseñó un Plan de Paz que tenía previsto la celebración de un referéndum de autodeterminación del Sáhara Occidental. Este Plan de Paz fue aceptado por las diferentes partes implicadas en el conflicto. En 1983 se creó l' Associació Catalana d´Amics del Poble Sahrauí (ACAPS), con la intención de promover y coordinar el soporte político y humanitario de Cataluña al pueblo saharaui. 

El Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU recibió una fuerte presión de países como Estados Unidos, Francia y Gran Bretaña a favor de la integración del Sáhara Occidental a Marruecos como autonomía. Por su parte, el gobierno español mostró una postura bastante ambigua. En este sentido, el Consejo no pudo poner de acuerdo y no adoptar una posición firme a pesar de que en febrero del 2002 el entonces Secretario General de la ONU, Koffi Annan, planteó un ultimátum para que tomara una decisión respecto a las propuestas que se habían planteado: referéndum de autodeterminación, integración en Marruecos como autonomía, partición del territorio, o abandono definitivo de la zona. En julio del 2002, por unanimidad, el Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas adoptó la resolución 1429 que era vista como "una victoria para el pueblo saharauí y la legalidad internacional". 

En enero del 2003 Kofi Annan hizo un nuevo llamamiento a la Comunidad Internacional para trabajar por ponerle fin a la tragedia del pueblo saharauí y solicitó una prórroga de dos meses del mandato de la MINURSO en el Sáhara Occidental. A finales del mes de marzo del 2003 el Consejo de Seguridad adoptó una nueva resolución, la 1469, para prolongar 10 meses más el mandato de la MINURSO y así dar tiempo a las partes implicadas en el conflicto para estudiar la propuesta de James Baker, enviado personal de Kofi Annan, de integración del Sáhara Occidental como territorio de Marruecos. Una vez más fue prorrogada cualquier tipo de decisión respecto a la solución de este conflicto. El plan jamás se implementó y James Baker renunció a su cargo poco después. 

En noviembre del 2010 la región fue militarizada por tropas marroquíes después de que se diesen los peores hechos de violencia en años entre las partes. La entrada de efectivos marroquíes a un campamento de protesta instalado a las afueras de El Aaiún, capital del Sahara Occidental, desató una ola de protestas y disturbios cuyo balance de víctimas es imposible corroborar por la ausencia de observadores imparciales. Los disturbios coincidieron con una nueva ronda de negociaciones en Nueva York, bajo el auspicio de Naciones Unidas entre el gobierno de Marruecos, que reclama el territorio como región autonómica, y el Frente Polisario, organización que lucha por la independencia. Sin embargo, el encuentro terminó con un único acuerdo: ambas partes rechazaron la propuesta del otro, dejando las conversaciones aún estancadas. 

  

Actores Internos

Actores Externos

Frente Polisario ONU
Pueblo Saharaui Argelia
Reino de Marruecos España
Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU (UNSC) Programa de Ayuda Mundial (PAM)
Asociación de Cataluña de Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui (ACAPS) Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiado (ACNUR)

 

Situación Actual

altDespués de las negociaciones que tomaron lugar en Noviembre del 2010 en la ciudad de Nueva York, en Abril del 2011 se redactó un proyecto para solucionar el problema en el Sahara. El Frente Polisario, que aspira a la independencia del llamado Sahara Occidental, asegura que el proyecto de resolución de Naciones Unidas sobre el futuro de la ex colonia española "no es suficiente". La resolución, que es apoyada por Estados Unidos, Reino Unido, Europa y Rusia, destaca "la importancia de mejorar la situación de los derechos humanos" en el Sahara Occidental, pero no indica los mecanismos para hacerlo. Desde 1991 rige un cese al fuego entre Marruecos y el Frente Polisario que es supervisado por la ONU. Mientras el gobierno marroquí ofrece una autonomía limitada en el territorio, el Polisario y la vecina Argelia quieren que se realice un referéndum sobre la independencia. 

Ahora que Marruecos está siendo persuadido por las protestas que están sucediendo en muchos países árabes, la situación en el Sahara Occidental es aun más incierta. El rey acaba de pasar una reforma constitucional, satisfaciendo así a muchos marroquíes, quienes mientas no quería ver al rey bajar de su trono, no estaban muy satisfechos con la situación política y económica en el país. ¿Pero quién está ahí para defender a la población saharaui y hacer valer sus derechos como seres humanos? Si la comunidad internacional, sea la ONU o cualquier otro organismo internacional, no toma medidas firmes y concretas para solucionar el conflicto, la población saharaui se extinguirá. Ya que desde principios del siglo XXI la población saharaui, como una estrategia del rey para tener derechos legítimos sobre la tierra, es minoritaria frente a la marroquí en el Sáhara Occidental.

 

Postura de la ONU

Para la ONU el Sáhara Occidental sigue siendo un territorio pendiente de descolonización. Nunca ha reconocido a Marruecos como potencia administradora de dicho territorio. El Tribunal Internacional de la Haya también se pronunció al respecto del conflicto concluyendo que no existe "ningún vínculo de soberanía territorial entre el territorio del Sáhara Occidental y el reino de Marruecos".

 

Más Información

http://www.sahara-online.net/esp/HistoriadelSahara/HistoriadelconflictodelSahara.aspx

http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/2011/04/24/97001-20110424FILWWW00154-le-polisario-accuse-paris.php

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/opinion/19kristof.html?scp=2&sq=morocco%20sahara&st=cse
 

Por Jatnna Garcia, pasante CDRI

Middle East: The Crisis in Syria

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altOrigins of the Crisis

The al-Assad regime first came into power in 1970 after a bloodless military coup put the government in the hands of Hafiz al-Assad, the father of current Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Hafiz al-Assad established an authoritarian regime and kept the country under an emergency law that was first implemented in 1962. Under the Syrian constitution, the president is granted the right to call a State of Emergency, which strips citizens of most constitutional rights and gives the government almost unlimited power in regards to domestic security. With the ability to arrest, detain, and execute dissidents whenever it sees fit, the government under Hafiz al-Assad was able to intimidate Syrian citizens and deter them from protesting en masse. As a result, al-Assad was able to quell popular resistance with relative ease until 1976, which marked the beginning of an insurrection headed by the fundamentalist Sunni organization, the Muslim Brotherhood.


The uprising was violently crushed in 1982, when Syrian armed forces raided the city of Hama, killing over 10,000 Syrian citizens. The Hama massacre showed Syrians that al-Assad was not afraid to use violence against his own people and, in effect, discouraged even the slightest thought in the popular Syrian mind of openly challenging the president’s rule again. Despite various human rights violations and the continued denial of constitutional rights, Syrians remained reluctant to protest against the government until al-Assad died in 2000, after ruling for 30 years. Not much changed after Assad’s death, however, as parliament swiftly ratified an amendment changing the minimum age of the president from 40 to 34, which allowed al-Assad’s son Bashar to take over immediately.


Many had high hopes for change when Bashar inherited the presidency and Syrians have patiently waited over a decade for economic and human rights reforms. However, the people’s patience has worn thin. Bashar’s failure to come through on promises for change sparked minor protests in January of this year. The situation escalated in March after the Syrian military attacked civilians protesting against the arrest of Syrian youths in the Southwestern city of Deraa. Much like Muammar Gadhafi of Libya, al-Assad has blamed the uprising on conspiracies and Islamist Extremists. Originally, Syrian protestors were not demanding an immediate departure of al-Assad nor were they demanding a regime change. Nevertheless, continued violence against protestors has caused further outrage and Syrians are now pushing for al-Assad to go.

 

   Internal actors                                                 External actors

 

  • Syrian Arab Republic                                    The United Nations (UN)
  • President Bashar al-Assad                          The European Union (EU)
  • Pro-democracy protestors                            The United States of America (USA)


Current Situation


altAfter 48 years, the Emergency Law in Syria was finally lifted by President Bashar al-Assad in April. The Syrian president has also granted citizenship to thousands of Kurds, released several political prisoners, and replaced his entire cabinet in an attempt to appease protestors throughout the nation. These concessions have not been enough for Syrian protestors, however, and protestors continue to take to the streets and demand al-Assad’s departure. One of the largest protests to date occurred earlier this week when over 10,000 Syrians gathered together in Hama, Syria’s fourth largest city. The massive protest remained peaceful thanks to an earlier withdrawal of security forces, but many fear that advancing pro-Assad troops may soon clash with protestors.


In order to avoid violence in Hama and other major cities, over 10,000 Syrians have already taken refuge in Turkey and many more are expected to flee the country soon. However, the Shia Muslim community in Turkey has protested against allowing predominately Sunni refugees from Syria into the country. Many Turks also support al-Assad and are sharply criticizing those attempting to escape the conflict. If violence erupts against Syrian refugees in Turkey, the conflict will undoubtedly become more globalized and will likely provoke a UN intervention. The international community has already strongly condemned Syria’s continued use of violence against protestors thus far. The European Union and the United States have both imposed economic sanctions on Syria for its human rights violations but it appears unlikely that there will be any sort of military intervention. In fact, NATO recently announced that it not would launch military operations in Syria like it has in Libya.

 

The United Nation’s Stance


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called the violence used against demonstrators “unacceptable” and has insisted that the Syrian government end all violence against its citizens. The UN is currently demanding access for its workers to give humanitarian aid to Syrian citizens in need of food, water, and medical supplies. Despite requests from the EU, however, the UN Security Council has yet to take direct action in Syria. Whether or not the UN will intervene directly in the conflict remains to be seen.

 


More Information

 

Discurso de Obama sobre el Medio Oriente y África del Norte, y sus Reacciones Internacionales

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altDiscurso del Presidente estadounidense Barack Obama en el Departamento de Estado sobre el Medio Oriente y África del Norte, pronunciado el 19 de mayo 2011.

En este discurso, el Presidente Obama ha declarado que un Estado Palestino se debe basar sobre las fronteras de 1967, con posibles intercambios de tierras acordados entre las dos partes. La idea de una Palestina basada en las fronteras de 1967 era un aspecto tácito de la política norteamericana hacia Israel y Palestina, pero nunca se había pronunciado abiertamente por un jefe de estado estadounidense. Estas declaraciones prometen tener repercusiones en la región, especialmente ya que se llevaron a cabo la noche antes de una reunión entre el Presidente Obama y el Primer Ministro Israelí Benjamin Netanyahu. El discurso ha sido recibido de maneras muy distintas por los lideres del Estado de Israel, la Autoridad Palestina y el Movimiento Hamas.

A continuación se presenta el texto completo del discurso de Obama, que puede verse también en video aquí.

Luego, se presentan las reacciones a estas declaraciones en distintos medios de prensa mundiales. Para ver las reacciones, pulsar aquí.

Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa
State Department, Washington, DC

12:15 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. Please, have a seat. Thank you very much. I want to begin by thanking Hillary Clinton, who has traveled so much these last six months that she is approaching a new landmark -- one million frequent flyer miles. (Laughter.) I count on Hillary every single day, and I believe that she will go down as one of the finest Secretaries of State in our nation’s history.

The State Department is a fitting venue to mark a new chapter in American diplomacy. For six months, we have witnessed an extraordinary change taking place in the Middle East and North Africa. Square by square, town by town, country by country, the people have risen up to demand their basic human rights. Two leaders have stepped aside. More may follow. And though these countries may be a great distance from our shores, we know that our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics and security, by history and by faith.

Today, I want to talk about this change -- the forces that are driving it and how we can respond in a way that advances our values and strengthens our security.

Now, already, we’ve done much to shift our foreign policy following a decade defined by two costly conflicts. After years of war in Iraq, we’ve removed 100,000 American troops and ended our combat mission there. In Afghanistan, we’ve broken the Taliban’s momentum, and this July we will begin to bring our troops home and continue a transition to Afghan lead. And after years of war against al Qaeda and its affiliates, we have dealt al Qaeda a huge blow by killing its leader, Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden was no martyr. He was a mass murderer who offered a message of hate –- an insistence that Muslims had to take up arms against the West, and that violence against men, women and children was the only path to change. He rejected democracy and individual rights for Muslims in favor of violent extremism; his agenda focused on what he could destroy -– not what he could build.

Bin Laden and his murderous vision won some adherents. But even before his death, al Qaeda was losing its struggle for relevance, as the overwhelming majority of people saw that the slaughter of innocents did not answer their cries for a better life. By the time we found bin Laden, al Qaeda’s agenda had come to be seen by the vast majority of the region as a dead end, and the people of the Middle East and North Africa had taken their future into their own hands.

That story of self-determination began six months ago in Tunisia. On December 17th, a young vendor named Mohammed Bouazizi was devastated when a police officer confiscated his cart. This was not unique. It’s the same kind of humiliation that takes place every day in many parts of the world -– the relentless tyranny of governments that deny their citizens dignity. Only this time, something different happened. After local officials refused to hear his complaints, this young man, who had never been particularly active in politics, went to the headquarters of the provincial government, doused himself in fuel, and lit himself on fire.

There are times in the course of history when the actions of ordinary citizens spark movements for change because they speak to a longing for freedom that has been building up for years. In America, think of the defiance of those patriots in Boston who refused to pay taxes to a King, or the dignity of Rosa Parks as she sat courageously in her seat. So it was in Tunisia, as that vendor’s act of desperation tapped into the frustration felt throughout the country. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets, then thousands. And in the face of batons and sometimes bullets, they refused to go home –- day after day, week after week -- until a dictator of more than two decades finally left power.

The story of this revolution, and the ones that followed, should not have come as a surprise. The nations of the Middle East and North Africa won their independence long ago, but in too many places their people did not. In too many countries, power has been concentrated in the hands of a few. In too many countries, a citizen like that young vendor had nowhere to turn -– no honest judiciary to hear his case; no independent media to give him voice; no credible political party to represent his views; no free and fair election where he could choose his leader.

And this lack of self-determination –- the chance to make your life what you will –- has applied to the region’s economy as well. Yes, some nations are blessed with wealth in oil and gas, and that has led to pockets of prosperity. But in a global economy based on knowledge, based on innovation, no development strategy can be based solely upon what comes out of the ground. Nor can people reach their potential when you cannot start a business without paying a bribe.

In the face of these challenges, too many leaders in the region tried to direct their people’s grievances elsewhere. The West was blamed as the source of all ills, a half-century after the end of colonialism. Antagonism toward Israel became the only acceptable outlet for political expression. Divisions of tribe, ethnicity and religious sect were manipulated as a means of holding on to power, or taking it away from somebody else.

But the events of the past six months show us that strategies of repression and strategies of diversion will not work anymore. Satellite television and the Internet provide a window into the wider world -– a world of astonishing progress in places like India and Indonesia and Brazil. Cell phones and social networks allow young people to connect and organize like never before. And so a new generation has emerged. And their voices tell us that change cannot be denied.

In Cairo, we heard the voice of the young mother who said, “It’s like I can finally breathe fresh air for the first time.”

In Sanaa, we heard the students who chanted, “The night must come to an end.”

In Benghazi, we heard the engineer who said, “Our words are free now. It’s a feeling you can’t explain.”

In Damascus, we heard the young man who said, “After the first yelling, the first shout, you feel dignity.”

Those shouts of human dignity are being heard across the region. And through the moral force of nonviolence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades.

Of course, change of this magnitude does not come easily. In our day and age -– a time of 24-hour news cycles and constant communication –- people expect the transformation of the region to be resolved in a matter of weeks. But it will be years before this story reaches its end. Along the way, there will be good days and there will bad days. In some places, change will be swift; in others, gradual. And as we’ve already seen, calls for change may give way, in some cases, to fierce contests for power.

The question before us is what role America will play as this story unfolds. For decades, the United States has pursued a set of core interests in the region: countering terrorism and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons; securing the free flow of commerce and safe-guarding the security of the region; standing up for Israel’s security and pursuing Arab-Israeli peace.

We will continue to do these things, with the firm belief that America’s interests are not hostile to people’s hopes; they’re essential to them. We believe that no one benefits from a nuclear arms race in the region, or al Qaeda’s brutal attacks. We believe people everywhere would see their economies crippled by a cut-off in energy supplies. As we did in the Gulf War, we will not tolerate aggression across borders, and we will keep our commitments to friends and partners.

Yet we must acknowledge that a strategy based solely upon the narrow pursuit of these interests will not fill an empty stomach or allow someone to speak their mind. Moreover, failure to speak to the broader aspirations of ordinary people will only feed the suspicion that has festered for years that the United States pursues our interests at their expense. Given that this mistrust runs both ways –- as Americans have been seared by hostage-taking and violent rhetoric and terrorist attacks that have killed thousands of our citizens -– a failure to change our approach threatens a deepening spiral of division between the United States and the Arab world.

And that’s why, two years ago in Cairo, I began to broaden our engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. I believed then -– and I believe now -– that we have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals. The status quo is not sustainable. Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder.

So we face a historic opportunity. We have the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator. There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.

Of course, as we do, we must proceed with a sense of humility. It’s not America that put people into the streets of Tunis or Cairo -– it was the people themselves who launched these movements, and it’s the people themselves that must ultimately determine their outcome.

Not every country will follow our particular form of representative democracy, and there will be times when our short-term interests don’t align perfectly with our long-term vision for the region. But we can, and we will, speak out for a set of core principles –- principles that have guided our response to the events over the past six months:

The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region. (Applause.)

The United States supports a set of universal rights. And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders -– whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran.

And 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. Today I want to make it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions, and supported by all of the diplomatic, economic and strategic tools at our disposal.

Let me be specific. First, it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy. That effort begins in Egypt and Tunisia, where the stakes are high -– as Tunisia was at the vanguard of this democratic wave, and Egypt is both a longstanding partner and the Arab world’s largest nation. Both nations can set a strong example through free and fair elections, a vibrant civil society, accountable and effective democratic institutions, and responsible regional leadership. But our support must also extend to nations where transitions have yet to take place.

Unfortunately, in too many countries, calls for change have thus far been answered by violence. The most extreme example is Libya, where Muammar Qaddafi launched a war against his own people, promising to hunt them down like rats. As I said when the United States joined an international coalition to intervene, we cannot prevent every injustice perpetrated by a regime against its people, and we have learned from our experience in Iraq just how costly and difficult it is to try to impose regime change by force -– no matter how well-intentioned it may be.

But in Libya, we saw the prospect of imminent massacre, we had a mandate for action, and heard the Libyan people’s call for help. Had we not acted along with our NATO allies and regional coalition partners, thousands would have been killed. The message would have been clear: Keep power by killing as many people as it takes. Now, time is working against Qaddafi. He does not have control over his country. The opposition has organized a legitimate and credible Interim Council. And when Qaddafi inevitably leaves or is forced from power, decades of provocation will come to an end, and the transition to a democratic Libya can proceed.

While Libya has faced violence on the greatest scale, it’s not the only place where leaders have turned to repression to remain in power. Most recently, the Syrian regime has chosen the path of murder and the mass arrests of its citizens. The United States has condemned these actions, and working with the international community we have stepped up our sanctions on the Syrian regime –- including sanctions announced yesterday on President Assad and those around him.

The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy. President Assad now has a choice: He can lead that transition, or get out of the way. The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests. It must release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests. It must allow human rights monitors to have access to cities like Dara’a; and start a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition. Otherwise, President Assad and his regime will continue to be challenged from within and will continue to be isolated abroad.

So far, Syria has followed its Iranian ally, seeking assistance from Tehran in the tactics of suppression. And this speaks to the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime, which says it stand for the rights of protesters abroad, yet represses its own people at home. Let’s remember that the first peaceful protests in the region were in the streets of Tehran, where the government brutalized women and men, and threw innocent people into jail. We still hear the chants echo from the rooftops of Tehran. The image of a young woman dying in the streets is still seared in our memory. And we will continue to insist that the Iranian people deserve their universal rights, and a government that does not smother their aspirations.

Now, our opposition to Iran’s intolerance and Iran’s repressive measures, as well as its illicit nuclear program and its support of terror, is well known. But if America is to be credible, we must acknowledge that at times our friends in the region have not all reacted to the demands for consistent change -- with change that’s consistent with the principles that I’ve outlined today. That’s true in Yemen, where President Saleh needs to follow through on his commitment to transfer power. And that’s true today in Bahrain.

Bahrain is a longstanding partner, and we are committed to its security. We recognize that Iran has tried to take advantage of the turmoil there, and that the Bahraini government has a legitimate interest in the rule of law.

Nevertheless, we have insisted both publicly and privately that mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens, and we will -- and such steps will not make legitimate calls for reform go away. The only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail. (Applause.) The government must create the conditions for dialogue, and the opposition must participate to forge a just future for all Bahrainis.

Indeed, one of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict. In Iraq, we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy. The Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence in favor of a democratic process, even as they’ve taken full responsibility for their own security. Of course, like all new democracies, they will face setbacks. But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress. And as they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner.

So in the months ahead, America must use all our influence to encourage reform in the region. Even as we acknowledge that each country is different, we need to speak honestly about the principles that we believe in, with friend and foe alike. Our message is simple: If you take the risks that reform entails, you will have the full support of the United States.

We must also build on our efforts to broaden our engagement beyond elites, so that we reach the people who will shape the future -– particularly young people. We will continue to make good on the commitments that I made in Cairo -– to build networks of entrepreneurs and expand exchanges in education, to foster cooperation in science and technology, and combat disease. Across the region, we intend to provide assistance to civil society, including those that may not be officially sanctioned, and who speak uncomfortable truths. And we will use the technology to connect with -– and listen to –- the voices of the people.

For the fact is, real reform does not come at the ballot box alone. Through our efforts we must support those basic rights to speak your mind and access information. We will support open access to the Internet, and the right of journalists to be heard -– whether it’s a big news organization or a lone blogger. In the 21st century, information is power, the truth cannot be hidden, and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens.

Such open discourse is important even if what is said does not square with our worldview. Let me be clear, America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard, even if we disagree with them. And sometimes we profoundly disagree with them.

We look forward to working with all who embrace genuine and inclusive democracy. What we will oppose is an attempt by any group to restrict the rights of others, and to hold power through coercion and not consent. Because democracy depends not only on elections, but also strong and accountable institutions, and the respect for the rights of minorities.

Such tolerance is particularly important when it comes to religion. In Tahrir Square, we heard Egyptians from all walks of life chant, “Muslims, Christians, we are one.” America will work to see that this spirit prevails -– that all faiths are respected, and that bridges are built among them. In a region that was the birthplace of three world religions, intolerance can lead only to suffering and stagnation. And for this season of change to succeed, Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain.

What is true for religious minorities is also true when it comes to the rights of women. History shows that countries are more prosperous and more peaceful when women are empowered. And that’s why we will continue to insist that universal rights apply to women as well as men -– by focusing assistance on child and maternal health; by helping women to teach, or start a business; by standing up for the right of women to have their voices heard, and to run for office. The region will never reach its full potential when more than half of its population is prevented from achieving their full potential. (Applause.)

Now, even as we promote political reform, even as we promote human rights in the region, our efforts can’t stop there. So the second way that we must support positive change in the region is through our efforts to advance economic development for nations that are transitioning to democracy.

After all, politics alone has not put protesters into the streets. The tipping point for so many people is the more constant concern of putting food on the table and providing for a family. Too many people in the region wake up with few expectations other than making it through the day, perhaps hoping that their luck will change. Throughout the region, many young people have a solid education, but closed economies leave them unable to find a job. Entrepreneurs are brimming with ideas, but corruption leaves them unable to profit from those ideas.

The greatest untapped resource in the Middle East and North Africa is the talent of its people. In the recent protests, we see that talent on display, as people harness technology to move the world. It’s no coincidence that one of the leaders of Tahrir Square was an executive for Google. That energy now needs to be channeled, in country after country, so that economic growth can solidify the accomplishments of the street. For just as democratic revolutions can be triggered by a lack of individual opportunity, successful democratic transitions depend upon an expansion of growth and broad-based prosperity.

So, drawing from what we’ve learned around the world, we think it’s important to focus on trade, not just aid; on investment, not just assistance. The goal must be a model in which protectionism gives way to openness, the reigns of commerce pass from the few to the many, and the economy generates jobs for the young. America’s support for democracy will therefore be based on ensuring financial stability, promoting reform, and integrating competitive markets with each other and the global economy. And we’re going to start with Tunisia and Egypt.

First, we’ve asked the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to present a plan at next week’s G8 summit for what needs to be done to stabilize and modernize the economies of Tunisia and Egypt. Together, we must help them recover from the disruptions of their democratic upheaval, and support the governments that will be elected later this year. And we are urging other countries to help Egypt and Tunisia meet its near-term financial needs.

Second, we do not want a democratic Egypt to be saddled by the debts of its past. So we will relieve a democratic Egypt of up to $1 billion in debt, and work with our Egyptian partners to invest these resources to foster growth and entrepreneurship. We will help Egypt regain access to markets by guaranteeing $1 billion in borrowing that is needed to finance infrastructure and job creation. And we will help newly democratic governments recover assets that were stolen.

Third, we’re working with Congress to create Enterprise Funds to invest in Tunisia and Egypt. And these will be modeled on funds that supported the transitions in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. OPIC will soon launch a $2 billion facility to support private investment across the region. And we will work with the allies to refocus the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development so that it provides the same support for democratic transitions and economic modernization in the Middle East and North Africa as it has in Europe.

Fourth, the United States will launch a comprehensive Trade and Investment Partnership Initiative in the Middle East and North Africa. If you take out oil exports, this entire region of over 400 million people exports roughly the same amount as Switzerland. So we will work with the EU to facilitate more trade within the region, build on existing agreements to promote integration with U.S. and European markets, and open the door for those countries who adopt high standards of reform and trade liberalization to construct a regional trade arrangement. And just as EU membership served as an incentive for reform in Europe, so should the vision of a modern and prosperous economy create a powerful force for reform in the Middle East and North Africa.

Prosperity also requires tearing down walls that stand in the way of progress -– the corruption of elites who steal from their people; the red tape that stops an idea from becoming a business; the patronage that distributes wealth based on tribe or sect. We will help governments meet international obligations, and invest efforts at anti-corruption -- by working with parliamentarians who are developing reforms, and activists who use technology to increase transparency and hold government accountable. Politics and human rights; economic reform.

Let me conclude by talking about another cornerstone of our approach to the region, and that relates to the pursuit of peace.

For decades, the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has cast a shadow over the region. For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could be blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them. For Palestinians, it has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own. Moreover, this conflict has come with a larger cost to the Middle East, as it impedes partnerships that could bring greater security and prosperity and empowerment to ordinary people.

For over two years, my administration has worked with the parties and the international community to end this conflict, building on decades of work by previous administrations. Yet expectations have gone unmet. Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks. The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on and on and on, and sees nothing but stalemate. Indeed, there are those who argue that with all the change and uncertainty in the region, it is simply not possible to move forward now.

I disagree. At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever. That’s certainly true for the two parties involved.

For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.

As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. But precisely because of our friendship, it’s important that we tell the truth: The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.

The fact is, a growing number of Palestinians live west of the Jordan River. Technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself. A region undergoing profound change will lead to populism in which millions of people -– not just one or two leaders -- must believe peace is possible. The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.

Now, ultimately, it is up to the Israelis and Palestinians to take action. No peace can be imposed upon them -- not by the United States; not by anybody else. But endless delay won’t make the problem go away. What America and the international community can do is to state frankly what everyone knows -- a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people, each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.

So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -– by itself -– against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

These principles provide a foundation for negotiations. Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met. I’m aware that these steps alone will not resolve the conflict, because two wrenching and emotional issues will remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees. But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Now, let me say this: Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table. In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel: How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist? And in the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question. Meanwhile, the United States, our Quartet partners, and the Arab states will need to continue every effort to get beyond the current impasse.

I recognize how hard this will be. Suspicion and hostility has been passed on for generations, and at times it has hardened. But I’m convinced that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians would rather look to the future than be trapped in the past. We see that spirit in the Israeli father whose son was killed by Hamas, who helped start an organization that brought together Israelis and Palestinians who had lost loved ones. That father said, “I gradually realized that the only hope for progress was to recognize the face of the conflict.” We see it in the actions of a Palestinian who lost three daughters to Israeli shells in Gaza. “I have the right to feel angry,” he said. “So many people were expecting me to hate. My answer to them is I shall not hate. Let us hope,” he said, “for tomorrow.”

That is the choice that must be made -– not simply in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but across the entire region -– a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past and the promise of the future. It’s a choice that must be made by leaders and by the people, and it’s a choice that will define the future of a region that served as the cradle of civilization and a crucible of strife.

For all the challenges that lie ahead, we see many reasons to be hopeful. In Egypt, we see it in the efforts of young people who led protests. In Syria, we see it in the courage of those who brave bullets while chanting, “peaceful, peaceful.” In Benghazi, a city threatened with destruction, we see it in the courthouse square where people gather to celebrate the freedoms that they had never known. Across the region, those rights that we take for granted are being claimed with joy by those who are prying loose the grip of an iron fist.

For the American people, the scenes of upheaval in the region may be unsettling, but the forces driving it are not unfamiliar. Our own nation was founded through a rebellion against an empire. Our people fought a painful Civil War that extended freedom and dignity to those who were enslaved. And I would not be standing here today unless past generations turned to the moral force of nonviolence as a way to perfect our union –- organizing, marching, protesting peacefully together to make real those words that declared our nation: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Those words must guide our response to the change that is transforming the Middle East and North Africa -– words which tell us that repression will fail, and that tyrants will fall, and that every man and woman is endowed with certain inalienable rights.

It will not be easy. There’s no straight line to progress, and hardship always accompanies a season of hope. But the United States of America was founded on the belief that people should govern themselves. And now we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just.

Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.) Thank you.

END 1:00 P.M. EDT

Reacciones en los Medios de Prensa Internacionales

New York Times: "Obama Sees '67 Borders as Starting Point for Peace Deal"

CNN: "Obama Calls for Pre-1967 Borders"

Fox News: "Israeli Opposition Leader Slams Netanyahu for 'Harming' US Relationship"

BBC: "Pressure Heaped on Netanyahu for Washington Visit"

The Economist: "Obama's Speech: The View from Palestine"

Le Monde: "Pourquoi Netanyahu n'aime pas 1967"

Al-Jazeera: "Reactions: Obama's 'Arab Spring Address'"

Al Arabiya: "Iran, Syria say Obama speech on Middle East shows US 'despair,' 'Arrogance'"

Haaretz: "European Officials back Obama on 1967 boders for Palestinian State"

Jerusalem Post: "Analysis: What rankled Netanyahu on the Obama speech"

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