Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Bahrain: Who is speaking Tehran or Washington? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the Arab Gulf states are following the wrong track by getting involved in Bahrain, with regards to the dispatching of the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] Peninsula Shield Force into the country to protect its security. She also called on the Bahraini government to open dialogue with the popular opposition.

This statement, in itself, is strange, and causes those monitoring the situation to wonder: is the US Secretary of State well-informed about what is happening on the ground in Bahrain? This is because she is acting like the Iranian Foreign Minister, rather than the US Secretary of State, for she criticized Gulf troops being sent to Bahrain whilst the White House’s comment on this was that the deployment of Gulf troops to Bahrain does not represent an invasion. The entry of Peninsula Shield Force troops into Bahrain has taken place according to GCC agreements, and their mission is to maintain the security of Bahrain’s infrastructure, for these are security forces, not military personnel! Of course, the series of strange statements issued by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton does not stop here, for she also said that the Gulf States were following the wrong track by getting involved in Bahrain, and this is despite all the clear and explicit [security] agreements and conventions between the GCC states which were signed more than two decades ago. Therefore, how can the US Secretary of State, despite all of this, criticize the GCC involvement in Bahrain, but think it is permissible for herself to get involved in Bahraini internal affairs? This is the truly puzzling issue!

What is even more curious is that the US Secretary of State said – in the same interview – that “the Arab countries, with their statements through the Arab League last Saturday, made it very clear that they wanted to see action so we need Arab leadership and Arab participation in whatever the UN decides to do.” So how can the involvement of a country from the same region [as Bahrain], united by international charters and agreements, and a joint international body [the GCC], be considered a mistake and something that is undesirable, whilst at the same time Arab involvement in Libya is not just desirable, but something that the US has demanded? What can be more contradictory than this?

Of course, the questions regarding the US Secretary of State’s comments do not stop here, for is Hillary Clinton not aware that the popular opposition in Bahrain occupied the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama and were only allowing Shiites to receive treatment there? Did the US Secretary of State not hear about the clashes that occurred in some Bahraini schools between Sunni and Shiite students? Is the US Secretary of State not aware that the entire country has been paralyzed by this uprising? Isn’t the US Secretary of State aware that Bahrain is not just made up of Shiite citizens, but that there are also Sunnis there, and that therefore any demands for reform would affect the composition of this country, and moreover that Bahrain, or indeed any country, must follow a national consensus, rather than a sectarian one?

When the US Secretary of State talks about the necessity of dialogue, and calls on the Bahraini government to open dialogue with the opposition, is she not aware the Bahraini government has been calling on the Shiite opposition to sit down and engage in dialogue since this crisis first began? The Bahraini King mandated the Crown Prince to launch dialogue with the opposition, and the only response from the Bahraini opposition to this was rejection, indeed the opposition escalated its demands, until these reached the point of calls for the establishment of a Republic of Bahrain.

Therefore the best thing that can be said about the statements made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – which are more like statements that we could expect from the Iranian Foreign Minister – is that these either indicate that she is not aware of what is happening on the ground in Bahrain, or that the objective of these statements is nothing more than to score public opinion points – especially as they have been issued after the security forces succeeded in dispersing the demonstrators and liberating Bahrain’s main roads and the Salmaniya Medical Complex – or that statements such as this reveal the degree to which Washington is floundering in the region! Whatever the reason, each one is worse than the last.