Bahrain protests Reuters 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
The United States
has formulated a new strategy in response to the recent anti-government
protests that have broken out through the Arab world since the start
of 2011, The Wall Street Journal
reported Saturday. After weeks of internal discussions, the US decided to put its support behind longtime allies who may be willing to
initiate political reform, even if that means citizens' demand for
full democracy are delayed.
Despite the fact that US
officials are still calling for Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddafi's immediate removal from power, White House officials have formed the "Bahrain model." The proposed system endorses the ruling power to stay in control but works with the
local population to create democratic reforms that suit demands
of the protesters.
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US government's decision to shift its policy towards the recent Arab
unrest comes after aggressive lobbying by representatives of Arab
countries who were shocked at America's quick abandonment of longtime
ally Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak was seen by many in the region, and in the
US, as having maintained stability and peace in a potentially tumultuous
Israel has maintained that the US must ensure longtime
allies in the region and that the US should not abandon them if protests
begin to develop. Since Mubarak's fall, Israelis have feared that Islamic
extremists might exploit the current unrest to realign the
The policy shift also comes in light of domestic US
criticism of the Obama administration's mixed signals surrounding the
Egyptian leader's ouster, initially backing Mubarak only to turn around
and give its full support to demonstrators' demands for his removal.
The Wall Street Journal
wrote that White House officials denied claims that they have sent
signals, saying that throughout the recent events, the Obama
not waver on its stance that rulers must avoid using violence against
peaceful protesters. Even so, a White House senior official was
reported to have said that its "approach will be country by
country," and that important lessons are being learned every step of the
Bahrain, highlights America's changed stance. Bahrain is a key ally of
the US in the Persian Gulf region, host of a US naval base and valuable
presence against Iranian influence. US
officials fear that if the government of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa
were to fall, the majority Shi'ite country could be pushed into the
Iranian sphere of influence, costing the US important strategic and
military positions in the small island country.
Adding to the pressure for on US to hold onto Khalifa, US intelligence
agencies believe that a scenario could arise wherein Saudi
Arabia, also a Sunni-controlled monarchy, would invade Bahrain to quell
the Shi'ite-led unrest. As such, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton have recently been pushing for a policy of
support for the Bahraini king, paired with a reform plan that would suit
the needs of demonstrators.
This "Bahrain model" could be used to help subdue protests in Morocco
and Yemen that are already underway. On Sunday February 27, the US
delivered messages to the kings of both Bahrain and Morocco, throwing
their support behind the leaders and their political systems.