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US Ambassador Lays Down Rules for Arab Democracies

Parties "must reject violence, respect the freedoms of speech and religion, rights of women."
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/11/2011, 5:51 PM

Shapiro at conference
Shapiro at conference
Screenshot

US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said Sunday that Washington believes in democracy in the Middle East but spelled out conditions for supporting parties that win elections in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere.

"Democracies do not always agree with us," Shapiro explained in a speech at the Globes 2011 Conference for Businesses, "and in the Middle East and North Africa, democracies that emerge may well disagree strongly with US policies. But at the end of the day it is no coincidence that our closest allies throughout the world including the state of Israel are those members of the democratic community of nations. The enduring cooperation we seek in the Middle East will be difficult to sustain without public legitimacy and public consent."

The relationships formed by Washington with the emerging governments will depend on several factors, Shapiro said. "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 in the polls." 

"This goes for political parties across the region, in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and everywhere else," he added.