The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Obama in 2002 on Egypt and Saudi Arabia


"Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells."
-- Barack Obama, October 2, 2002

Zunes is Middle East editor for Foreign Policy in Focus, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and the author of "Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism. He said today: "How it contrasts with his decent but all-too-vague statements about freedom and democracy during his Cairo speech and the apparent lack of any specific challenges to the Egyptian and Saudi rulers during his visits.

"In a BBC interview [this week], he referred to Mubarak as a 'stalwart ally,' when before Obama had previously referred to him as a 'so-called' ally.

"And how in that same interview he said 'I think he has been a force for stability. And good in the region.' Such an assessment is remarkable coming from a man who, less than seven years ago, publicly acknowledged that Mubarak's corrupt and autocratic rule was creating conditions where Egyptian youth 'grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.'

"And when asked by the reporter whether he considered Mubarak an authoritarian leader, he demurred, despite having acknowledged back in 2002 that Mubarak was oppressing his people and suppressing dissent."

Also this week, Obama said he was "struck" by the "wisdom" of Saudi monarch Abdullah.
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