With the prominent rise of Arab Spring, the United States of America today reaffirmed its support in any democratic transitions particularly in the Maghreb region.
In her remarks in Washington DC, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says supporting democratic transitions is not a matter of idealism.
“The US support on democratic transitions is a strategic necessity.” -Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton says the US will not pull back its support for emerging democracies when the going gets rough.
“That would be a costly strategic mistake that would, I believe, undermine both our interests and our values.” -Ms. Clinton
In her remarks, Ms. Clinton focuses on the the Maghreb where the Arab revolutions started, and where an international coalition helped stop a dictator from slaughtering his people.
According to Ms. Clinton, a year of democratic transition was never going to drain away reservoirs of radicalism built up through decades of dictatorship, nor was that enough time to stand up fully effective and responsible security forces to replace the repressive ones of the past.
In Tunisia, the United States made it clear that it would be watching closely and would assess the new government by its actions, not its words, Ms. Clinton said.
She says civil society is wise to remain vigilant, and to exercise their hard-earned rights to safeguard their new democracy.
She pointed out that the situation in the rest of the Maghreb is different.
Morocco and Algeria have not experienced revolutions, but recent events have also tested their values and resolve, she pointed out.
In 2011, when citizens of Morocco called for change, Moroccan society under King Mohammed VI answered with major constitutional reforms followed by early elections and expanded authorities for parliament.
In addition, Algeria also has much to gain by embracing the changes that are taking place around it, and the US government has seen some progress.
According to Ms. Clinton, thee government held parliamentary elections in May and invited international observers to monitor them for the first time.
Ms. Clinton reports that last month at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, she met with leaders from across the region, and told each of them that the United States will continue to pursue a strategy to support emerging democracies as they work to provide effective security grounded in the rule of law to spur economic growth and bolster democratic institutions.
“We’ve made those three priorities the hallmark of America’s involvement in the region.” -Ms. Clinton
However, Ms. Clinton says when the US talks about investing in responsible leaders and accountable democratic institutions, it has to be followed by actual investments.
Ms. Clinton reports that US government has mobilized more than $1 billion in targeted assistance since the start of the revolutions.
The Obama Administration has requested from Congress a new $770 million fund that would be tied to concrete benchmarks for political and economic reforms, she added.
She again urges Congress to move forward on this priority.
Ms. Clinton also cites that the US government is using every tool it can to help its partners fight terrorism and meet their security challenges.
The US recently embedded additional Foreign Service Officers with regional expertise into the U.S. Africa Command to better integrate our approach. Across the region, diplomats, development experts, and military personnel are working hand in hand.
“Now the nations of the Maghreb are not the first to struggle with the challenge of protecting a new democracy.” -Ms. Clinton
She says one of the lessons the US learned around the world is that training, funding, and equipment will only go so far.
She says it takes political will to make the hard choices and demand the accountability that is necessary for strong institutions and lasting security.
“And it takes changes in mindsets to make those reforms stick.” -Ms. Clinton
The United States is also stepping up its counterterrorism efforts, helping the countries of North Africa target the support structure of the extremist groups, particularly al-Qaida and its affiliates.
The US is also establishing a Tunisian-American Enterprise Fund with an initial capitalization of $20 million to stimulate investment in the private sector and provide businesses with needed capital.
According to Ms. Clinton, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC, is offering $50 million in loans and guarantees, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation is helping address long-term constraints to economic growth.
The US government is also looking forward to working on economic issues with the new Libyan Government once it’s formed.
“One of our top priorities is helping nations trade more with each other.” -Ms. Clinton
In addition, Ms. Clinton stresses that one of US strategies is strengthening democratic institutions and advancing political reforms.
She adds that political progress has to grow from the inside, not imposed from the outside or abroad.
Similar efforts are underway across the Maghreb, tailored to local needs and conditions, Ms. Clinton stressed.
“And none of this is happening in a vacuum. The transitions occurring in the Maghreb are linked, as you well know, with developments across the wider Middle East.” -Ms. Clinton
In Egypt, the largest Arab nation, cornerstone of the region, the US has seen its new elected leadership say that the success of Egypt’s democratic transition depends on building consensus and speaking to the needs and concerns of all Egyptians, men and women, of all faiths and communities.
“Now, we stand with the Egyptian people in their quest for universal freedoms and protections.” -Ms. Clinton
In Syria, the US has made major new contributions of humanitarian aid and assistance for the civilian opposition, and we remain committed with our like-minded partners to increase pressure on the regime.
And in Yemen, it supported negotiations that eventually achieved a peaceful transition, Ms. Clinton said.
The US is working to prevent al-Qaida and other extremists from threatening these emerging, fragile democratic institutions and prevent them also from finding a safe haven from which to stage new attacks.
“So in all of these places and many others, the United States is helping the people of those nations chart their own destinies and realize the full measure of their own human dignity.” -Ms. Clinton
Emphasizing America’s strong commitment to building a new partnership with a ‘new’ Egypt, the United States of America has underlined its support for the country’s democratic transition and economic revival.
In February 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the United States stands ready to provide assistance to Egypt to advance its efforts. Secretary Clinton announced $150 million budget to assist Egypt in its economic recovery after turmoil.
Earlier this year, President Obama has proposed a $1 billion cancellation of Egyptian debt to support Egypt’s economic recovery.
Egypt has made progress on human rights since the revolution that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak earlier in 2011.
Long-standing regimes were toppled by a wave of pro-democracy protests that have engulfed much of North Africa and the Middle East in 2011, particularly in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
In addition, as Yemenis embark on a path of change for their country, the United States of America has underlined its commitment to support Yemen as it pursues political transition.
Reports say Yemen has been undergoing a democratic transition, under the leadership of President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour, who came to power in an election in February this year.
The uprising in Yemen is part of a wider pro-democracy movement across the region, dubbed the “Arab Spring,” that began at the start of this year and has already toppled long-standing regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.