US President Barack Obama said Thursday that the uprisings sweeping the Arab world show that a policy of repression will no longer work as people seek to win their freedom and human rights.
He also warned in a speech at the State Department that Al-Qaeda's agenda of "extremism" was now seen as a "dead-end" in Arab nations.
"The events of the past six months show us that strategies of repression and strategies of aversion will not work anymore," Obama said, as he denounced the "relentless tyranny of governments that deny their citizens dignity."
He described what he called a "story of self-determination" which began six months ago in Tunisia, when a young vendor set himself on fire to protest the police confiscation of his cart.
There are times in the course of history when the actions of ordinary citizens spark movements for change because they speak to a longing for freedom that has been building up for years," Obama said.
Obama also said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must lead a political transition or "get out of the way".
"President Assad now has a choice. He can lead that transition or get out of the way. The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests," Obama said.
The US president also hailed the killing earlier this month of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden who he said had "rejected democracy and individual rights for Muslims in favor of violent extremism; his agenda focused on what he could destroy not what he could build."
"But even before his death, Al-Qaeda was losing its struggle for relevance, as the overwhelming majority of people saw that the slaughter of innocents did not answer their cries for a better life.
"By the time we found bin Laden, Al-Qaeda's agenda had come to be seen by the vast majority of the region as a dead end, and the people of the Middle East and North Africa had taken their future into their own hands."