Speaking at the seventh Forum for the Future of the Broader Middle East and North Africa, in Doha, Qatar early this month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the people and leaders of the Middle East must work together to build a stronger foundation for their region.
"People are ... profoundly concerned about the trends in many parts of the broader Middle East, and what the future holds. ... In too many places, in too many ways, the region’s foundations are sinking into the sand. The new and dynamic Middle East that I have seen needs firmer ground if it is to take root and grow everywhere," she said.
Youth, who form an ever increasing majority of the area's population, want to see an end to corrupt institutions and a stagnant political order. They are demanding reform to make their governments more effective, more responsive, and more open, said Secretary Clinton.
The leaders of this region can, and must, build that stronger foundation. They need to "make the economic and social reforms that will create jobs, respect the right of diversity to exist, create more economic opportunity, encourage entrepreneurship, give citizens the skills they need to succeed, to make the political reforms that will create the space young people are demanding, to participate in public affairs and have a meaningful role in the decisions that shape their lives."
Because if today's leaders ignore the demands of the young, said Secretary of State Clinton, "others will fill the vacuum. Extremist elements, terrorist groups, and others who would prey on desperation and poverty are already out there, appealing for allegiance and competing for influence."
The United States knows that events taking place in this region have global implications. So we want to build stronger partnerships with societies that are on the path to long-term stability and progress.
"The Middle East is brimming with talent. It is blessed with resources, enriched by strong traditions of faith and family. This rising generation of young people has the potential to achieve so much, and we need to give them the chance to do so," said Secretary of State Clinton.
"I am here to pledge my country’s support for those who step up to solve the problems that we and you face."