Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement in response to the President’s speech this afternoon on the Middle East and North Africa:

 “In a time of transformation for the Middle East and Northern Africa, it is important that the United States stand for democracy and freedom. To the forces of oppression, we must make it clear that the United States will not stand by as they seek to silence the voices of their people. At a time when people of the Middle East and Northern Africa are freeing themselves from the shackles of oppression, the political and economic support pledged by the United States today will help build on recent successes.

 “But fostering and supporting democracy requires more than just vocally supporting freedom movements and pressuring dictators. It requires continued support after oppressive regimes are disposed of to help nations transition to free and representative forms of government.

 “That is why I am pleased to see that the President has not only imposed sanctions on the Syrian regime and called on our friends to embrace reform, but has also committed to provide economic support for the region as we seek to stabilize their populations, diversify their economies and integrate them into the global economy. Investing in Egypt and Tunisia is a good place to start. Moving forward, we must build and expand on our existing relationships and establish a broader plan for trade and economic development in the region.

 “As we continue to make strides in our efforts to defeat violent extremists who wish to do our country harm, it is equally important that we support movements for change, reform and freedom.

 “The President also acknowledged the importance of resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Resolving this conflict is central to the peace and stability of the region and I am pleased that the President is making it a priority.

 “I applaud the President for seizing this moment and reaffirming our country’s commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights.”