President Barack Obama is preparing a fresh outreach to the Muslim world in coming days, senior U.S. officials say, one that will ask those in the Middle East and beyond to reject Islamic militancy in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death and embrace a new era of relations with the U.S. Protesters in Yemen Tuesday continue demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Mr. Obama is preparing to deliver that message in a wide-ranging speech, perhaps as early as next week, these officials say. The president intends to argue that bin Laden’s death, paired with popular uprisings sweeping North Africa and the Middle East, signal that the time has come to an end when al Qaeda could claim to speak for Muslim aspirations.
“It’s an interesting coincidence of timing—that he is killed at the same time that you have a model emerging in the region of change that is completely the opposite of bin Laden’s model,” Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser at the White House, said in an interview.
Since January, popular uprisings have overthrown the longtime dictators of Tunisia and Egypt. They have shaken rulers in Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and Jordan, marking the greatest wave of political change the world has seen since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
But the push for democracy appears to have stalled in some countries. The street protests against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi have morphed into a civil war, with North Atlantic Treaty Organization backing the rebels. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Bahrain’s ruling Khalifa family have both met demonstrations with violence.