Strategies of repression and diversions will not work: Obama

Barack Obama
Washington, May 20: US President Barack Obama on Thursday, May 19 warned Arab rulers that "strategies of repression and diversions" will not work anymore and they must hear the voices of their people.

"The events of the past six months show us that strategies of repression and strategies of diversion will not work anymore," Obama said in his major speech on the recent developments in the Middle East and North African countries.

Stating that the satellite television and the Internet provide a window into the wider world, a world of astonishing progress in places like India, Indonesia and Brazil, Obama said the cellphones and social networks allow young people to connect and organize like never before.

"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," he said.

"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," Obama said.

Obama said that in this 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 be 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," Obama said.

Hitting hard at the authoritarian regimes of the region, Obama said 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," he said.

"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... Divisions of tribe, ethnicity and religious sect were manipulated as a means of holding onto power," he said.

Obama said as the US did in the Gulf War, it will not tolerate aggression across borders, and will keep its commitments to friends and partners.

"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 US pursues our interests at their expense," he asserted.

"We have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals," he added.


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