U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a speech at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, that a "long hopeful process of democratic change is now beginning to unfold" in the Middle East. Millions of people in the region, she said, "are demanding freedom for themselves and democracy for their countries":
"To these courageous men and women, I say today: all free nations will stand with you as you secure the blessings of your own liberty. I have just come from Jordan, where I met with the King and Queen – two leaders who have embraced reform for many years. And Jordan’s education reforms are an example for the entire region. That government is moving toward political reforms that will decentralize power and give Jordanians a greater stake in their future. In Iraq, millions of citizens are refusing to surrender to terror the dream of freedom and democracy. . . .Despite the attacks of violent and evil men, ordinary Iraqis are displaying great personal courage and remarkable resolve. And every step of the way - from regaining their sovereignty, to holding elections, to now writing a constitution - the people of Iraq are exceeding all expectations. "
Like Iraqis, Palestinians and Lebanese have had the opportunity to vote in democratic elections. In other countries of the region, including Iran and Syria, authoritarian regimes refuse to hold democratic elections. "The appearance of elections does not mask the organized cruelty of Iran’s theocratic state," Secretary of State Rice said.
In Syria, one-hundred seventy-nine academics and human rights activists have called on their government to liberalize. "Syria’s leaders should embrace this call - and learn to trust their people,"
Ms. Rice said. Egypt has scheduled presidential elections for September. Secretary of State Rice said that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s decision to amend the country’s constitution and hold multiparty elections is "encouraging":
"President Mubarak has unlocked the door for change. Now, the Egyptian government must put its faith in its own people. We are all concerned for the future of Egypt’s reforms when peaceful supporters of democracy - men and women - are not free from violence. The day must come when the rule of law replaces emergency decrees - and when the independent judiciary replaces arbitrary justice."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Egyptian government should fulfill the promise it made to its people by giving its citizens the freedom to choose. Egypt’s elections, including the parliamentary elections, she said, "must meet objective standards that define every free election."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.