Panetta Calls Arab Spring ‘Monumental Moment’

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2011 — The chain of pop­u­lar upris­ings across the Arab world known as the “Arab Spring” is a mon­u­men­tal moment in the pol­i­tics and future of the Mid­dle East, Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta said yes­ter­day.

“The changes that are tak­ing place, peo­ple com­ing togeth­er to … seek the same kind of rights and oppor­tu­ni­ties and free­doms that oth­ers enjoy in this world … is a good sign for the future,” Panet­ta said dur­ing a tele­vised inter­view with PBS’ Char­lie Rose. 

While many gov­ern­ments are in upheaval and risks remain, events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syr­ia send a clear sig­nal to Iran that it is not win­ning in the region, and to al-Qai­da that “the jihadist ide­ol­o­gy is not win­ning in that part of the world,” he said. 

The cur­rent upris­ings in Syr­ia are “very much a peo­ple move­ment,” the sec­re­tary added. He not­ed that the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty is impos­ing pres­sure and sanc­tions on Syr­i­an leader Bashar al-Assad to try to force him to step down. 

“When you start shoot­ing your own peo­ple in the streets, you lose any legit­i­ma­cy to pow­er,” the sec­re­tary said. “You can­not do that and expect to be legit­i­mate in the eyes of the peo­ple of that coun­try. And I think Assad’s days, just like [Libyan leader Moam­mar] Gadhafi’s, are numbered.” 

When the upris­ings began ear­ly this year, U.S. mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ties worked to iden­ti­fy the com­mon fac­tors link­ing the chain of pop­u­lar revolts, the sec­re­tary said. Those fac­tors includ­ed poor eco­nom­ic con­di­tions, a youth­ful pop­u­la­tion that did­n’t see much hope, and a thriv­ing social media network. 

“Part of it was just the fact that they had had enough that they knew their lives could be bet­ter and that they did­n’t have to tol­er­ate the kind of lives that they were lead­ing,” he said. “All of those fac­tors came togeth­er to pro­duce the changes that we’ve seen.” 

When peo­ple decide “the moment has come,” and they band togeth­er to take on the mil­i­tary or a tyran­ni­cal leader, “that’s a moment when tremen­dous change is about to hap­pen. And I think it’s true not only in the Mid­dle East, it’s going to be true in Iran as well,” Panet­ta said. 

“I think the reform move­ment in Iran is learn­ing one hell of a lot from what’s hap­pened in Tunisia and Egypt and Libya and Syr­ia,” he added. 

The 2009 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Iran demon­strat­ed “a move­ment with­in Iran that raised those very same con­cerns that we’re see­ing else­where,” the sec­re­tary said. 

“I think in many ways it’s a mat­ter of time before that kind of change and reform and rev­o­lu­tion occurs in Iran as well,” he added. 

The Unit­ed States and oth­er nations must allow the peo­ple of the Mid­dle East to take the lead in their own nations, but must also pro­vide sup­port as changes take place, Panet­ta said. 

“I think that sense that there’s some­one stand­ing beside you who shares the same con­cerns, the same feel­ings, and is pre­pared to make that kind of sac­ri­fice if nec­es­sary — it’s when those ingre­di­ents come togeth­er that these changes occur,” he said. 

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →