The Middle East Urges the US to Observe the Principles of Democracy

After yesterday's chaotic scenes on Capitol Hill, leaders in Iran and Turkey give America a taste of its own medicine.
January 7, 2021, 5:47pm
Police use tear gas around Capitol building where pro-Trump supporters riot and breached the Capitol.
Police use tear gas to dispel pro-Trump supporters from the US Capitol. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Accustomed to high-minded statements and travel safety alerts from US embassies at any sign of unrest in the Middle East, there was no shortage of schadenfreude from leaders in the region on Thursday after the violent insurrection that unfolded on Capitol Hill.

Officials in Iran and Turkey, in particular, took obvious pleasure in echoing the statements of past US presidents, urging restraint from American political leaders during turbulent times in their country. 

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, speaking at an opening ceremony on Thursday morning, called the scenes in Washington D.C. “a sign of the weakness and baselessness of the Western democracy”. 

“When a sick person takes office, we see how he disgraces his country and creates troubles for the world,” he said, referring to President Donald Trump, who is accused of encouraging Wednesday’s violence.

Iran has suffered under Trump's “maximum pressure” policy for four years, with sanctions and travel restrictions weakening the Iranian economy. Much of the ruling establishment in Tehran has asked for a return to the Obama-era nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew from in 2018. Trump, however, deems Iran a threat to the US and its allies.

Rouhani added: “I hope this is a lesson for the whole world and for the next rulers of the White House, who will take power in two weeks, to come and make amends and return their country to the position that the great nation of America should have.”

In Turkey, a NATO ally that has turned sharply towards authoritarianism in the last few years, called on the US to observe the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

Turkey’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying that Ankara is following the events in Washington D.C. with “concern” and issued a travel advisory for Turkish citizens in the US, warning them to stay away from crowded places and demonstrations.

“We call on all parties in the US to maintain restraint and prudence. We believe the US will maturely overcome this internal political crisis,” the ministry added.

Writing on Twitter, the Turkish parliament speaker Mustafa Şentop said that he "invited all parties to calm", while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesperson, Fahrettin Altun, added that he believed that “democracy in the USA will become operational as soon as possible with all its institutions and practices”.