Clinton urges Saudi, Bahrain to embrace Arab Spring

The US will hold Bahrain to its promises to release political prisoners, says Clinton

Bahrain Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Bahrain Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying that the US has a role in democracy movements that continue to roil the Middle East, urged Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to embrace reform and Syria to accept protesters’ demands.

“These revolutions are not ours - they are not by us, for us, or against us, but we do have a role,” Clinton said in remarks to the National Democratic Institute, a democracy support organization based in Washington. “Fundamentally, there is a right side of history. We want to be on it. And without exception, we want our partners in the region to reform so that they are on it as well.”

Clinton addressed skepticism in both the Arab world and at home about US motives and commitments since the Arab Spring began with a Tunisian fruit vendor’s protest self-immolation in December 2010.

Developments in the months since then have raised the possibility of Islamic groups gaining political power in Egypt, highlighted differences in the way the US has approached protest movements in places like Bahrain and Syria and drawn questions about US opposition to unilateral Palestinian attempts to gain recognition.

While there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to democracy in the Arab world, such a movement is firmly in US interests and is a strategic necessity, Clinton declared.

“The greatest single source of instability in today’s Middle East is not the demand for change,” she said, “It is the refusal to change.”

Clinton said that held true for allies as well as others. She warned that, if the most powerful political force in Egypt remains a roomful of unelected officials, there will be future unrest.

She decried Iranian hypocrisy, saying that contrary to its claims to support democracy abroad, the gulf between rulers and the ruled is greater in Iran than anywhere else in the region. Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and others “trying to hold back the future at the point of a gun should know their days are numbered,” Clinton said.

To the king of Bahrain, where the US Fifth Fleet is based as a bulwark against Iranian aggression in the Gulf, Clinton said that reform was in the kingdom’s interest.

Officials there have used mass arrests to counter protests by majority Shiites demanding greater rights in the Sunni-led nation. Members of Congress have demanded an inquiry into human rights abuses before a planned arms sale to the kingdom goes through.

Article continues on next page…

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: A.Rahman Rashed

Referring to Bahrain population as majority Shie't is a jok. Although this is not relevant to the main subject about protest in Bahrain, I beleive some of the international media coverage deliberity mislead outside world and public opinion. There was not peaceful protest, there was not sincere demands for reforms and finally poeple got arrested are not politicians. Wake up please, what happened in Bahrian and is still happening is simply a political game orcystrated by regional and international parties aiming to shape the region in confirmity to their interest. If the US is concerned about human rights, let us see their reaction to what Israel does to the Palestanian in Palastine. Bahrain was proactive in its political reforms almost a decade before the Arab Springs.

Posted by: Nasser

Dear Clinton Madam;

We know that you have a role in democracy movements that continue to roil the Middle. We know you had greater role in organizing protest in Bahrain. We cannot forget that your embassy in Bahrain distributed sweets to protestors when they protest in front of your embassy. We know your role is to destabilize the entire Middle East we know your role is to capture oil wealth of entire Middle East and we know you are with the government and you are with the protestors at the same time. We know you play double roll. Please do not teach us the democracy lessons, jut get out of our region and let us live in peace and harmony.

Posted by: JJ

The US is fomenting the unrest and instability in the Middle East (and not only) for the last half century.

They invented the mullahs, the talibans, alqaida and God knows what else they are thinking about...

They want democracy and have the skills (as H. Clinton says) to implant domocarcy in the same way they planted it in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Iran, Iraq, Libia....

Please give us a break and let the Euro devaluate and go 1 to 1 with dollar. In that way the world wioll go back to normality at the expense of the US, who despoite having kept their dollar weak now for two decades areincapable of coming out of their financial crisis 9again cretae dby them through their finnancial system and "mafia")

Posted by: keenObzerver

I agree that Bahrain should release political prisoners who have taken to the streets peacefully to demand political reforms. This should not include any protester with bloodied hands, killers of police officers, those who cut out the tongues of asian expats, & ran people over with cars. These youth continue to terrorise the expats and disrupt the livelihood of everyone else who doesnt share their revolutionary ambitions. Just last week they poured motor oil on major highways creating havoc and trafic accidents that could have cost people their lives, they tied chains accross lamposts on major highways preventing people from going to work, set trash bins and tires on fire in the middle of the street, etc.. Would any of this violent behaviour be accepted in the USA occupy wall street, or any other country? the bahrain police have their hands tied, and the rioters continue to receive un-earned support from the world media and the USA.

Posted by: Marijke

I would like to advice Hilary Clinton to stop meddling in Middle Eastern affairs. Perhaps try to clear up the mess you left in Afghanistan and Iraq before telling M-E leaders what to do.

Posted by: procan

Hilary these people are right, mind you own business, lord no,s you guys got yours hands all over to many peoples business.

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Filipino expats in Gulf look to hardman Duterte

Filipino expats in Gulf look to hardman Duterte

President on tour of region as more than a million Filipino workers...

Qatar’s love affair with the UK is at stake

Qatar’s love affair with the UK is at stake

GCC country plans to increase its investment in the United Kingdom...

A humbler Qatar still wants to punch above its weight

A humbler Qatar still wants to punch above its weight

Qatar has acquired more than $335bn worth of assets around the...

Most Discussed