Bush Revives Middle East Freedom Promotion

Bush Promotes Freedom, Justice Across the Middle East

Those who desire liberty will defeat extremists, president says

By Merle Kellerhals

14 January 2008

Washington -- President Bush is encouraging the advance of freedom and justice throughout the Middle East during his eight-day trip in the region, but he also is warning of the dangers posed by those who promote extremism, terrorism and insurgency that threaten regional security and undermine societies.

"For decades, the people of this region saw their desire for liberty and justice denied at home and dismissed abroad in the name of stability. Today your aspirations are threatened by violent extremists who murder the innocent in pursuit of power," Bush said during remarks January 13 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The president began his eight-day regional visit by focusing attention on an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that would lead to creation of a Palestinian state. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators opened talks January 14 in Jerusalem, led by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie. The talks will focus on sensitive final status issues such as borders for the Palestinian state, the fate of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Territories and the future of some Palestinian refugees. Israeli and Palestinian leaders have pledged to try and reach a conclusion to the talks by the end of 2008.

Another aspect of President Bush's mission to the Middle East is to address substantive regional security issues such as the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran and Iran's support for terrorists and insurgencies in Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories and Afghanistan.

"One cause of instability is the extremists supported and embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran. Iran is today the world's leading state sponsor of terror," the president said.

While the struggle against the forces of extremism is one of the greatest of our time, Bush said, extremists will be defeated by those who desire freedom and justice -- something extremists cannot take away. Because of that threat, Bush told allies the United States will strengthen its long-standing security commitments in the Gulf region.

Bush arrived in Saudi Arabia January 14 for two days of talks to support peacemaking before concluding his trip in Egypt. Bush already has visited Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

A transcript of the president’s remarks in the United Arab Emirates is available here.


Fostering Freedom, Justice in the Middle East

Desire for liberty greatest weapon against violent extremism, Bush says

(begin fact sheet)

Office of the Press Secretary
(Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
January 13, 2008

Fact Sheet

Fostering Freedom And Justice In The Middle East

During Middle East Trip, President Bush Says Desire For Liberty Is The Greatest Weapon In The Fight Against Violent Extremism

Today, President Bush made remarks in Abu Dhabi about the importance of fostering freedom and justice for the fight against violent extremism in the Middle East. The President spoke about the great new era that is unfolding, founded on the equality of all people before God. This new era offers hope for the millions across the Middle East who seek a future of peace, progress, and opportunity. Unfortunately, these aspirations for liberty and justice are being threatened by extremists who murder the innocent in pursuit of power.

Extremists Are Fomenting Instability In The Middle East

One cause of instability is the extremism supported and embodied by the regime in Tehran. Iran is today the world's leading state sponsor of terror. It undermines Lebanese hopes for peace by arming and aiding the terrorist group Hezbollah. It subverts the hopes for peace in other parts of the region by funding terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad. It sends arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Shia militants in Iraq. It seeks to intimidate its neighbors with ballistic missiles and bellicose rhetoric. And finally, it defies the United Nations and destabilizes the region by refusing to be open and transparent about its nuclear programs and ambitions.

-- Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere, so the United States is strengthening our longstanding security commitments with our friends in the Gulf -– and rallying friends around the world to confront this danger before it is too late.

The other major cause of instability is the extremism and violence embodied by al Qaeda and its affiliates. The United States joins countries in the Middle East that share our commitment to the freedom and security of the region, and we will not abandon these countries to terrorists and extremists seeking to impose their rule of intimidation and murder across the Middle East.

The Desire For Freedom And Justice Is The Greatest Weapon In The Fight Against Violent Extremists

The United States will be a partner in building a Middle East that is growing in peace and prosperity. The United States has no desire for territory -- we seek our shared security in liberty in the Middle East. We believe that stability can only come through a free and just Middle East, where the extremists are marginalized by millions of parents who want the same opportunities for their children that we have for ours.

Leaders across the Middle East are beginning to respond to the desires of their people and taking steps that will help enhance the stability and prosperity of their nations.

• The United Arab Emirates' first-ever indirect election for 20 Federal National Council members represents an effort, that we hope will continue, to make its government more modern and more representative.
• Kuwait held elections in which women were allowed to vote and hold office for the first time.
• Citizens have voted in a municipal election in Saudi Arabia; in competitive parliamentary elections in Jordan, Morocco, and Bahrain; and in multiparty Presidential elections in Yemen.

Free and just societies create opportunity for their citizens, and the United States is encouraged by the movement toward economic freedom we are seeing across the Middle East.

• The World Bank reports that economic growth is strong and rising in the region.
• Saudi Arabia has joined the World Trade Organization.
• Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, and Morocco have signed free trade agreements with the United States.

Unfortunately, amid some steps forward in this region, we have also seen some setbacks. For example, opposition candidates, peaceful protesters, democracy, and human rights advocates and regime critics have been harassed, abused and/or imprisoned and denied their right to exercise many universally recognized human rights. Peaceful protestors have been jailed, and citizens have not been allowed to voice legitimate criticism.

America Is Using Its Influence To Foster Peace And Reconciliation In The Holy Land

Today, Israelis and Palestinians each understand that the only way to realize their own goals is by helping one another. An independent, viable, democratic, and peaceful Palestinian state is more than the aspiration of Palestinians. It is also the best guarantee of peace for all its neighbors -- and the Israelis understand this.

America will do our part. By supporting the legitimate aspirations of both sides, we will encourage reconciliation between the Israeli and Palestinian people and between Israelis and Arabs, and build a foundation for lasting peace that will contribute to the security of every state in the region.

President Bush Used His Remarks To Speak Directly To The People Of The Middle East

The President reiterated his support for Palestinians' aspirations for a state of their own, and urged the Palestinian people to oppose the extremists and terrorists who represent the greatest threat to those aspirations. He pledged that the United States will help the Palestinian people build the institutions of democracy and prosperity.

The President reiterated that the United States will always stand with Israel in the face of terrorism and support it as it works to ensure the security of its people.

The President said America will continue to support Iraq as it builds the institutions of a free society, and together the United States, Iraq, and Coalition partners will defeat our common enemies.

The President called on the regime in Tehran to heed the will of the Iranian people and make itself accountable to them. The day will come when the people of Iran have a government that embraces liberty and justice, and Iran joins the community of free nations. When that day comes, Iran will have no better friend than the United States.

The President said the United States will stand with leaders across the Middle East as they confront terrorists and radicals. The United States urges these leaders to:

• Join in committing the resources to help the Palestinians build the institutions of a free society.
• Help the citizens of Lebanon preserve their government and their sovereignty in the face of outside pressure.
• Show the Iraqis that they support them in their effort to build a more hopeful nation.

The United States will stand with the people of the Middle East. We share their desire for a free and prosperous future.

(end fact sheet)


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