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Promoting Democracy Is In America's Interest

Protesters wave national flags and chant anti-government slogans during an all-women rally against alleged police brutality toward women Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011, in Miqsha, Bahrain.

"Americans believe that the desire for dignity and self-determination is universal."

The United States is committed to promoting democracy in the Middle East and North Africa. "We are not simply acting in our self-interest," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "Americans believe that the desire for dignity and self-determination is universal." Moreover, democratic governments tend to be more stable, peaceful, and prosperous.

Secretary Clinton continued by stating, "In the Middle East today, the greatest single source of instability is not the demand for change. It is the refusal to change. That is true in the case of Syria, where a crackdown on small, peaceful protests drove thousands into the streets and thousands more over the borders. It is true in Yemen, where President Saleh has reneged repeatedly on his promises to transition to democracy and suppressed his people's rights and freedoms. And it is true in Egypt. . . .If, over time, the most powerful political force in Egypt remains a roomful of unelected officials, they will have planted the seeds for future unrest," said Secretary Clinton, "and Egyptians will have missed a historic opportunity."

In Bahrain, the U.S. intends to hold the government to its commitments to provide access to human rights groups, to allow peaceful protests, and to ensure that those who cross lines in responding to civil unrest are held accountable. Reform and equal treatment for all Bahrainis are in Bahrain's interest, in the regions interest and in the United States' interest.

A fundamental component of democracy is holding free and fair elections. Parties committed to democracy must reject violence; they must abide by the rule of law and respect the freedoms of speech, religion, association, and assembly; they must respect the rights of women and minorities; they must let go of power if defeated at the polls.

In order to promote the democratic process in North Africa and the Middle East, the U.S. is providing resources, capabilities and expertise to support those who seek peaceful, democratic reform.

The United States is committed to helping all people, men and women, in the region find justice and opportunity as full participants in new democratic societies.