Sunday, April 24, 2011

Middle East Politics Quiz

American Middle East Diplomacy 101
Midterm Quiz


Please read the following April 2011 statement from President Barack Obama and circle the answers that best complete the sentences.


The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of force by the [Syrian | Bahraini] government against demonstrators. This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now. We regret the loss of life and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the victims, and with the [Syrian | Bahraini] people in this challenging time.

The [Syrian | Bahraini] Government's moves [yesterday | two months ago] to [repeal Syria’s decades-old Emergency Law and allow for peaceful demonstrations | offer political dialogue leading to meaningful reform] were not serious given the continued violent repression against protesters [today | before and since]. Over the course of two months since protests in [Syria | Bahrain] began, the United States has [repeatedly | ambivalently] encouraged [President Assad | Bahrain's rulers] and the [Syrian | Bahraini] Government to implement meaningful reforms, but they refuse to respect the rights of the [Syrian | Bahraini] people or be responsive to their aspirations. The [Syrian | Bahraini] people have called for the freedoms that all individuals around the world should enjoy: freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and the ability to freely choose their leaders. [President Assad | the Al Khalifa] and the [Syrian | Bahraini] authorities have repeatedly rejected their calls and chosen the path of repression. They have placed their personal interests ahead of the interests of the [Syrian | Bahraini] people, resorting to the use of force and outrageous human rights abuses to compound the already oppressive security measures in place before these demonstrations erupted. Instead of listening to their own people, [President Assad | the Bahraini government] is blaming outsiders while seeking [Iranian | Saudi] assistance in repressing [Syria's | Bahrain's] citizens through the same brutal tactics that have been used by [his Iranian | its GCC] allies. We call on [President Assad | the Bahraini ruling family] to change course now, and heed the calls of [his | their] own people.

We strongly oppose the [Syrian | Bahraini] government’s treatment of its citizens and we continue to oppose its continued destabilizing behavior more generally. ... The United States will [continue to | depending on the situation] stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve, [in Syria and | save for in Bahrain and other allied countries] around the world.

Any questions?


  1. Dear Justin,

    If i had 1 wish within the American jurisdiction, i would immediately appoint you the president of the USA. Surely you wouldn't do to the Bahrainis what Charles Belgrave did?

    If my history is correct he wasn't a fan of reform.

  2. I assume this is facetious, but I'll bite.

    I'm not sure how early 20th-century British colonial advisers fit in here, but my point is that if there are going to be statements from the U.S. (or Europe, etc.) of this nature, it would be nice if they were crafted in such a way that everyone reading them were not struck immediately by their patent applicability to other contexts where the U.S. position is much different.

    In particular, the line: "Instead of listening to their own people, President Assad is blaming outsiders while seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syria's citizens through the same brutal tactics that have been used by his Iranian allies," is really too much.

    It's as if, in order to save the effort of drafting a statement on Syria, someone found one on Bahrain in the trash can, dusted it off, and cut-and-pasted a few names and details.

  3. One word only Sir,




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