Rice Hails ‘Expansion of Liberty’ in Muslim World, Faults Syria
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday U.S.-led efforts to promote political reform in the Muslim world have produced major gains in the past year. But at a regional conference on reform, in Bahrain, she faulted Syria for human rights abuses.
Ms. Rice's appearance at the 36-nation Forum for the Future came amid tension between Washington and Damascus over, among other things, U.S. charges that Syria has allowed the transit of Islamic militants through its territory to join the insurgency in Iraq.
With Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara present in the hall, the secretary of state singled out the Damascus government for criticism in an otherwise upbeat assessment of political trends in the region.
Ms. Rice said that since the first Forum for the Future a year ago in Rabat, there has been a "tremendous expansion of liberty" in the broader Middle East region, underscored by two sets of democratic elections in both Iraq and Afghanistan.