US President Barack Obama (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk) gave a key speech at the State Department in Washington on Thursday, in which he developed his vision of the future for the American diplomacy in the Middle East and North Africa.
Mr Obama also talked about Israel and Palestine, a day before Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, the US president said it is “up to the Israelis and Palestinians to take action”.
He added that “no peace can be imposed upon them, nor can endless delay make the problem go away.”
“But what America and the international community can do is state frankly what everyone knows: a lasting peace will involve two states for two people.”
About the borders of a two-state solution Mr Obama said : “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognised borders are established for both states.
“The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
“As for security, every state has the right to self-defence, and Israel must be able to defend itself – by itself – against any threat.”
Sanctions on Syria
Mr Obama also said Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, must either lead his country through a democratic transition or “get out of the way”.
The US president described the country’s brutal crackdown on pro-reform activists as unacceptable, and added that Mr Assad could no longer rule through repression but must change course.
On Wednesday president Obama imposed sanctions for the first time on Mr Assad and six other Syrian officials for human rights abuses during the crackdown.
After two months of unrest in Syria, more than 850 people are believed to have been killed.
Two leaders have stepped down in the region and more may follow, said president Obama, who added that the future of the US was bound to the Middle East and North Africa.
About Libya, the US president said: “In Libya, we saw the prospect of imminent massacre, had a mandate for action, and heard the Libyan people’s call for help.
“Had we not acted along with our NATO allies and regional coalition partners, thousands would have been killed.”
According to analysts, with this long-awaited speech, president Obama wants to convince Americans that the fate of countries in the region is worth the money and effort even while their own country is going through difficult economic times.