DOHA, Qatar — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday delivered a stark warning to Arab leaders that they will face growing unrest, extremism and even rebellion unless they quickly address depleting oil and water reserves and enact real economic and political reform.

In unusually blunt remarks to a regional development conference in the Qatari capital of Doha, Clinton said economic and political space must be opened up for the Arab world's exploding youth population. Without that, she said, young people will increasingly turn to radicalism and violence that will bleed outside the region.

"In too many places, in too many ways, the region's foundations are sinking into the sand," she told officials at the Forum for the Future conference. "The new and dynamic Middle East ... needs firmer ground if it is to take root and grow everywhere."

Clinton's comments came at the end of a four-nation tour of U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf that took her to the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen and Qatar. During her trip, civil unrest continued unabated in Tunisia and Algeria and a political crisis hit Lebanon, underscoring what Clinton said where deep concerns about trends in the Middle East.

"While some countries have made great strides in governance, in many others, people have grown tired of corrupt institutions and a stagnant political order," she said. She appealed for leaders to heed calls to rein in rampant graft and offer all of their people a better way of life.

"Those who cling to the status quo may be able to hold back the full impact of their countries' problems for a little while, but not forever," Clinton said. "If leaders don't offer a positive vision and give young people meaningful ways to contribute, others will fill the vacuum."

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"Extremist elements, terrorist groups and others who would prey on desperation and poverty are already out there appealing for allegiance and competing for influence," she said. "This is a critical moment and this is a test of leadership for all of us."

At each of Clinton's stops in the Gulf, she visited with members of civil society, including women's rights activists, opposition leaders and students, encouraging them to speak out for reforms they see as necessary.

While hailing planning, development and innovation in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and congratulating Oman's vibrant civic groups, the limits of Clinton's message were clear in Yemen, a fragile, politically closed and impoverished nation that is a critical U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.

A day after she met Yemeni opposition leaders at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, authorities in Yemen announced that citizens must get prior approval before entering a foreign embassy. Yemen's official news agency Saba said the conditions were security precautions and part of efforts to fight terrorism and to preserve the embassies' security.

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