President Obama gave a wide-ranging speech on the Middle East today, speaking out forcefully in support of Arab protesters everywhere—even in US allies like Yemen and Bahrain. “After decades of accepting the world as it is in the region we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be,” Obama said, advocating “universal rights” for the people of the region, including freedom of speech and religion, and equality for women and men.
“Our support for these principles is not a secondary interest—today I am making it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions,” Obama said. He promised, for example, help for Egypt and Tunisia’s fledgling democracies, including investment funds like those used in Eastern Europe after the Berlin Wall fell. He also spoke at length about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, criticizing Palestine for its attempts to isolate Israel at the UN, and Israel for pursuing an “unsustainable” status quo. He said the US supports “frankly what everyone knows: a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples.” Those states should be based on Israel's 1967 borders, he said. Click for the full text of the speech.