Spark for Arab revolutions started during Bush era: Experts

Washington, Jan.28 (ANI): The spark for the current wave of revolutions in the Middle East may have started during the Bush administration when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a seminal speech at the American University in Cairo, say experts and analysts.

They said that in her 2005 speech, Rice had argued that: "For 60 years, the United States pursued stability at the expense of democracy in the Middle East-and we achieved neither."

Rice, they said, was then directly challenging the Mubarak regime in Egypt, to support the democratic aspirations of Egyptians.

The Bush administration's argument was that if the people of the Middle East don't have political freedom then Arab youth will be pushed into mosques where they are readily recruited by Al Qaeda.

President Obama tried to pick up the baton, when on June 4, 2009, he said: "All people yearn for certain things-the ability to speak your mind and have a say how you are governed."

" A government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere," he had said then in his outreach speech.

This week, however, during his State of the Union speech, Obama failed to mention the Egyptian protests.

And in her first remarks after the Egypt riots broke out, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looked as though she were siding with stability at the expense of democracy.

"Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable," Clinton said.

The next day the administration did an about-face, calling for the Mubarak regime not to block social media websites, a weak endorsement of the protesters, according to Middle East experts.

"I think they (Washington) are at sea," said former Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller, currently at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Fox News further quoted Miller, as saying: "I mean, the paradox here is that the Bush administration that made this a priority, didn't have or didn't witness, preside over the kinds of changes that are now possible in this region and I don't think the administration frankly knows quite how to respond."

"I think the Obama administration came to office with a much more nuanced view of the region. They were not interested in engaging in regime change," said Miller, author of "The Much Too Promised Land."

He added: "They wanted a low-key approach to what appeared to them the cookie cutter ideological approach to democratization in the region."

The State Department was slow to embrace the Tunisian protests as well -- then just one day before Tunisia's president was forced to flee his country for Saudi Arabia, Clinton gave a speech in Doha.

Some experts argue that a cautious White House is still feeling the sting after Hezbollah, an Islamist group currently on the State Department's terror list, engineered the fall of the Lebanese government earlier this month. (ANI)

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