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American Forces Press Service

People's Movements Reject Repressive Ideologies

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2011 – The tremendous change occurring across the Middle East and North Africa provides tremendous opportunities for democracy and demonstrates the rejection of violent, repressive ideologies possessed by al-Qaida and the current Libyan and Iranian regimes, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said here yesterday.

“This is a strong counter-narrative,” Donilon told reporters during a conference call from the White House. “These are indigenous movements. They are movements by people seeking more representative and responsive government. They run quite counter to the narratives of al-Qaida and the Iranian narrative.

“These really are movements that are tremendous examples of people pursuing their aspirations in a non-violent fashion,” he added.

The push for democracy, he said, is countering the extremist view of al-Qaida and other violent groups that their way is the only way for reform.

Donilon said there is no doubt that the protests spring from the countries’ citizenry and offer a chance to transform the region for decades.

In embattled Libya, strongman Moammar Gadhafi “has lost legitimacy to lead, he’s lost the confidence of his people and should leave,” Donilon said.

The international community has condemned Gadhafi for ordering his security forces to kill innocent people as he struggles to hold onto power. The Libyan ruler is isolated, the national security advisor said, and the United States’ strategy on Libya is aimed at seeing Gadhafi depart.

As people’s movements continue in several Middle East and North African countries, the United States is following key principles that President Barack Obama set down at the beginning of the unrest, Donilon said. First, the United States opposes violence and repression. Second, America deals with these countries from its own deeply held values.

And, “we support a process of political change that opens up societies and leads to governments that are more responsive to the aspirations of the people of the region,” Donilon said.

The United States sees political and governmental reforms as key factors leading to meaningful change for people in the Middle East and North Africa, the national security advisor said.

“In particular, we support the right to free expression, political participation, confidence in the rule of law and governments that are transparent and responsive and accountable to their people,” he said.

However, economic reform also “is key to the success of these transitions to representative and responsive government,” Donilon said.

“We are very tightly focused on a range of efforts here to promote economic change and economic reform through our own bilateral assistance efforts,” he continued, “by leveraging our leadership in the international financial institutions that are focused on … reform in the region, and, frankly, through our efforts with wealthier nations in the region who also need to work with us and work with their fellow nations in the region in order not to miss this opportunity.”

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