RAMALLAH, Feb 8 (JMCC) - US and French defense officials met at the Pentagon today and called on Middle Eastern governments to quickly reform in the face of political upheaval Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution and Egypt's Tahrir Square.
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said this spontaneous manifestation of discontent on the part of people who have both economic and political grievances could be averted with economic and political reforms. Gates also praised the lenient conduct of the Egyptian military. His French counterpart, Defense Minister Alain Jappe, said Western governments must bet on popular, democratic movements supplanting autocratic regimes.
My hope would be that other governments in the region -seeing this spontaneous action in both Tunisia and in Egypt -- will take measures to begin moving in a positive direction toward addressing the political and economic grievances of their people.
Juppe said Middle Eastern leaders often warned the West that the only choice was between authoritarian rule and Islamic extremism. He said it would take time for long-suppressed opposition movements to organize.
We now have to bet on democratic forces that will emerge and will not confiscate democracy in favor of other things after elections, as unfortunately has happened elsewhere, Juppe said, speaking through a translator. And I think this betting must be taken.
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