America losing relevancy in the Middle East?

Mohamad Bazzi, a journalism professor at New York University and an adjunct senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, warns that with recent popular discontent in Tunisa, Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East, the Obama administration's retreat from advocating democratic reforms may have consequences upon the level of future American influence in the region.

The administration has remained remarkably quiet on democracy promotion and has been reluctant to criticize U.S. allies who fall short of the ideals about which Obama spoke so eloquently. The administration has also blocked Congressional threats to link future U.S. aid to democratic reform or improvements in Egypt's human rights record.

With Tunisia's revolution, Obama missed a chance to show the Arab world that he can live up to his lofty rhetoric. He must seize the next opportunity to portray America as a more sympathetic power - a country that sticks up for the little guy and does not tolerate repression.

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