Path to democracy in Mid-East is rocky: Obama



Path to democracy in Mid-East is rocky: Obama Washington: President Barack Obama has said the path to democracy in the Middle East - which is currently experiencing a surge in anti-US sentiments - is going to be a rocky one, but hoped that in long-term it would bring peace to the region.

"I'd said even at the time that this is going to be a rocky path. The question presumes that somehow we could have stopped this wave of change. I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights, a notion that people have to be able to participate in their own governance," Obama said yesterday.

"But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of these places, the one organizing principle has been Islam. The one part of society that hasn't been controlled completely by the government," he said.

"There are strains of extremism, and anti-Americanism, and anti-Western sentiment... There will probably be some times where we bump up against some of these countries and have strong disagreements, but I do think that over the long term we are more likely to get a Middle East and North Africa that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more aligned with our interests," he said.

Responding to a question on Iran, Obama said he shares the view point of Israel that Tehran should not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon. "I have conversations with (Israeli) Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu all the time. And I understand and share Prime Minister Netanyahu's insistence that Iran should not obtain a nuclear weapon because it would threaten us, it would threaten Israel and it would threaten the world and kick off a nuclear arms race," he said.

"When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what's right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that's out there.

"Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we're in close consultation with the Israelis on these issues because it affects them deeply. They're one of our closest allies in the region. And we've got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel's existence," he said.

PTI