- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Denouncing dictators

The co-chairmen of a congressional human rights panel denounced the leaders of Russia, Iran and Venezuela and called on democratic governments to join forces to promote freedom in those authoritarian regimes.

“If anti-democracy regimes are going to work together — and it seems that they are — pro-democracy governments have to work that much harder, and we must work together,” said Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat and co-chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The United States must also set a “good example” for other democratic countries, he added in his remarks last week at a conference sponsored by Freedom House, Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

“Setting a good example will hardly be good enough to get dictators in Iran or Venezuela to follow suit, but it may help our credibility with those countries which might stand with us as allies in the effort to bring democracy to a greater part of the world,” Mr. Hastings said.

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Maryland Democrat and the other co-chairman, noted that Russia “has regressed on many of the principles of democracy.”

“We are not looking for them to duplicate American institutions, but they are failing to uphold the very institutions that allow all people who yearn for freedom the opportunity to participate in their government,” he said.

“We can be successful in our modern-day fight against authoritarianism only if government and non-government organizations work in concert with each other for the common goal of freedom.”

Obama’s ‘bold’ speech

While President Obama offered a “bold outreach” to Muslims in his speech in Egypt, he failed to underscore the urgency of stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons, according to the founder of a Washington-based pro-Israeli think tank.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of the Israel Project, was also shocked that Mr. Obama endorsed Iran’s “right” to civilian nuclear energy without apparent regard that the oil-rich nation could smuggle nuclear material to terrorists.

“President Obama’s speech did not convey a sense of urgency on stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons, although it is clear he does share the goal of preventing a weaponized nuclear Iran,” she said in an analysis of his remarks in Cairo.

Mrs. Laszlo Mizrahi also criticized Mr. Obama for endorsing Iran’s “right to nuclear materials for energy, given the dangerous fact that some of those materials could get into the hands of terrorists, including Iran’s proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”

Otherwise, she called his speech “historic in its bold outreach to Muslims and in its dramatic move for peace.”

Azerbaijan angst

The U.S. ambassador in Azerbaijan is trying to reassure that nation that the Obama administration is committed to helping it solve its dispute with neighboring Armenia over a permanent settlement for an ethnic Armenian enclave.

Ambassador Anne Derse reminded the Interfax-Azerbaijan news service Monday that President Obama expressed his commitment for a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in an April phone call to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

“The United States has always cooperated with Azerbaijan in the resolution to the Karabakh conflict,” she said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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