Fostering Freedom and Justice in The Middle East

During Middle East Trip, President Bush Says Desire for Liberty Is the Greatest Weapon in the Fight Against Violent Extremism WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, President Bush made remarks in Abu Dhabi about the...

During Middle East Trip, President Bush Says Desire for Liberty Is the Greatest Weapon in the Fight Against Violent Extremism

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, President Bush made remarks in Abu Dhabi about the importance of fostering freedom and justice for the fight against violent extremism in the Middle East . The President spoke about the great new era that is unfolding, founded on the equality of all people before God. This new era offers hope for the millions across the Middle East who seek a future of peace, progress, and opportunity. Unfortunately, these aspirations for liberty and justice are being threatened by extremists who murder the innocent in pursuit of power.

Extremists Are Fomenting Instability In The Middle East

One cause of instability is the extremism supported and embodied by the regime in Tehran . Iran is today the world's leading state sponsor of terror. It undermines Lebanese hopes for peace by arming and aiding the terrorist group Hezbollah. It subverts the hopes for peace in other parts of the region by funding terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad. It sends arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Shia militants in Iraq . It seeks to intimidate its neighbors with ballistic missiles and bellicose rhetoric. And finally, it defies the United Nations and destabilizes the region by refusing to be open and transparent about its nuclear programs and ambitions.

Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere, so the United States is strengthening our longstanding security commitments with our friends in the Gulf - and rallying friends around the world to confront this danger before it is too late.

The other major cause of instability is the extremism and violence embodied by al Qaeda and its affiliates. The United States joins countries in the Middle East that share our commitment to the freedom and security of the region, and we will not abandon these countries to terrorists and extremists seeking to impose their rule of intimidation and murder across the Middle East .

The Desire For Freedom And Justice Is The Greatest Weapon In The Fight Against Violent Extremists

The United States will be a partner in building a Middle East that is growing in peace and prosperity. The United States has no desire for territory - we seek our shared security in liberty in the Middle East . We believe that stability can only come through a free and just Middle East , where the extremists are marginalized by millions of parents who want the same opportunities for their children that we have for ours.

Leaders across the Middle East are beginning to respond to the desires of their people and taking steps that will help enhance the stability and prosperity of their nations.

-- The United Arab Emirates ' first-ever indirect election for 20 Federal National Council members represents an effort, that we hope will continue, to make its government more modern and more representative.

-- Kuwait held elections in which women were allowed to vote and hold office for the first time.

-- Citizens have voted in a municipal election in Saudi Arabia ; in competitive parliamentary elections in Jordan , Morocco , and Bahrain ; and in multiparty Presidential elections in Yemen .

Free and just societies create opportunity for their citizens, and the United States is encouraged by the movement toward economic freedom we are seeing across the Middle East .

-- The World Bank reports that economic growth is strong and rising in the region.

-- Saudi Arabia has joined the World Trade Organization.

-- Jordan , Oman , Bahrain , and Morocco have signed free trade agreements with the United States .

Unfortunately, amid some steps forward in this region, we have also seen some setbacks. For example, opposition candidates, peaceful protesters, democracy, and human rights advocates and regime critics have been harassed, abused and/or imprisoned and denied their right to exercise many universally recognized human rights. Peaceful protestors have been jailed, and citizens have not been allowed to voice legitimate criticism.

This content continues onto the next page...