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Wed 16 Mar 2011 08:13 PM

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Clinton says Bahrain, Gulf allies 'on wrong track'

US Secretary of State urges Bahrain to negotiate a political agreement with demonstrators

Clinton says Bahrain, Gulf allies 'on wrong track'
Hillary Clinton
Clinton says Bahrain, Gulf allies 'on wrong track'
Black smoke billows from burning tents in Pearl Square in Bahraini capital Manama on March 16, 2011. (Getty Images)
Clinton says Bahrain, Gulf allies 'on wrong track'
Bahraini National guard arrest a man believed to be a journalist as he walked towards Pearl Roundabout in the Bahraini capital Manama, on March 16, 2011 (Getty Images)
Clinton says Bahrain, Gulf allies 'on wrong track'
Female Anti-government protesters gather outside the Saudi Arabian embassy in Manama, on March 15. (Getty Images)

Bahrain and its allies who have sent troops to help it put down anti-government demonstrations are on the wrong track, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a television interview on Wednesday.

Bahraini forces backed by helicopters launched a crackdown on protesters on Wednesday, imposing a curfew and clearing hundreds from a camp that had become the symbol of an uprising by the Shi'ite Muslim majority.

"We find what's happening in Bahrain alarming. We think that there is no security answer to the aspirations and demands of the demonstrators," Clinton told CBS in an interview, urging Bahrain to negotiate a political agreement with demonstrators.

"There is no security answer to this," she said according to a pool reporter who attended the interview.

"We have also made that very clear to our Gulf partners who are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council, four of whose members have sent troops to support the Bahraini government. They are on the wrong track," Clinton said.

Hospital sources said three policemen and three protesters were killed in the assault that began a day after Bahrain declared martial law to quell sectarian unrest that has sucked in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled neighbour Saudi Arabia.

"We have made it very clear to the Bahraini government at the highest levels that we expect them to exercise restraint, we would remind them of their humanitarian obligation to keep medical facilities open and to facilitate the treatment of the injured, and to get back to the negotiating table," she said.

Also on Wednesday, Iran recalled its

ambassador from Bahrain in protest against the killing of

Shi'ite Muslim demonstrators in the island state, the

semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

State TV said the ambassador had been recalled for

consultations, in what would appear to be a tit-for-tat move

after Bahrain which withdrew its ambassador from Tehran for

consultations on Tuesday to protest at Tehran's criticisms.

Iran, the main Shi'ite power in the Gulf, has condemned the

crackdown by Bahrain's Saudi-backed Sunni royal family against

protesters from its Shi'ite majority, saying it could lead to

regional instability.

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Naveen Shetty 9 years ago

USA has to take a firm stand on this issue in the middle east. It can not supply arms to countries which are using them against their own citizens the way it is happening in Bahrain. Americans can not engage in double standards when it comes human rights and should put on hold all weapons sales on hold to GCC countries indefinitely.

Omar 9 years ago

That's nice in principle, but in reality with the poor economy and the chance of selling $60 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia and similar amounts to the UAE do you think they will give this up?

N.S. 9 years ago

Let me tell you something... To make parallel comparisons between Bahrain and other countries on the uprise it's a pity and ignorant assumption. I am a western expat who lived in Bahrain for five years and in the Gulf since 1998. Bahraini Shi'ia population (and we're not talking about all of them) don't care about concessions, progress nor democracy rights. They only need to annex Bahrain to Iran, which even only geographically it's not a viable option. In the last ten years there have been more reforms in Bahrain than in any other Arab country. In 2002 the state has been converted in a constitutional monarchy where people have the right to vote, the majority of the parliament seats are Shi'ite, the former minister of Labor a former dissident Shi'ite (he's now Minister of housing affairs). Crown Prince has asked to come and talk but instead these groups have attacked and killed indian and Bangladeshi civilians without reasons. How do you want to deal with these people?

GW Bush is a War Criminal of the Worst Kind 9 years ago

Why is it that the Americans are permitted to violently force democracy on other countries (Afghanistan, Iraq...) but apply double standards to everyone else. And what democracy they have brought...
Firstly, (while irrelevant), Hillary Clinton has no credentials to speak. Not Obama, (who has proved to be an outright liar - and entirely undeserving for a Nobel Peace - Peace??? prize... Revoke it... Guantanamo still open, Afghanistan as bloody as ever, Iraq in tatters) - not anyone... where do Americans believe they earned their right to speak about democracy when they are the most undemocratic nation in the world - they poilce their citizens, support demon dictators, torture relentlessly... im at a loss for words... they are of the worst kind
Americans have no legitimacy on the international stage

Mazen 9 years ago

The USA should mind its own business...If they learned anything in Iraq or Afghanistan it was that they don't understand the Arab mind. Western logic doesn't always apply here...

Ahmed 9 years ago

Some people, it seems, are really oblivious about the reality of USA and most countries in the world.

They care about three things only:
- Their interest,
- Their interest, and
- Their interest.

Human rights and stuff are powder and makeup only.

USA has killed more civilians in the past 10 years than all the dictators in the world combined for the same period.

Wake up and go figure.

Mohammed 9 years ago

I don't support killing of any innocent but it really amuses to see the media and western politicians when they write articles and talk (since last one month) twisting the facts to their liking.

Its clearly evident that the plan of US is to create divisions in Muslim community.

Does any one not know that Govt of Bahrain has repeatedly been asking demonstrators to come to neogtiating table and yet its written otherwise.

GCC are all friendly countries who support Bahrain with massive aid in all areas but its written as if they are like enemies.

Should govt only consider 10,000 demonstrators of Bahrain and ignore security/safety of other 990,000 innocent people living here.

Do you all expect that Govt just leave the situation to this abyss and become a spectator to all this anarchy created?? and bow down to demonstrators with folded hands??

If some group of US nationals disrupts peace like this I am sure US will send them to Gunatanmo Bay but they talk different here in GCC.

Neil 9 years ago

I read yesterday the reason they can't have any more democracy in Bahrain is becuse of Iran and Iranian influence. There is always seems to be a reason not to release any power, Fundamentalists, Al Qaeda, Iran whatever.
I would have throught that if Bahrain was a proper successful democracy without the theocratic leadership which poisons the countries on either side of it, then this would increase pressure within Iran not the other way around.
If 90% of the youth of the GCC countries want there to be democracy then it is very doubtful that the status quo will continue.

Christine B.Osborne 9 years ago

Most people outside the region will not be familiar with Bahrain. But unless something changes quick-smart, this small island nation with its repressed population of local Shi'ites, could well spark a war between the Gulf states and Iran. If the US 'suggested' intervention by the Saudis and other GCC forces, then it must bear the consequences which will be felt worldwide since it will involve the major oil producers.

Khalid A Juma 9 years ago

I have to clarify on your opinion of what's going on in my country, I am a resident of Bahrain and I can tell you that the situation is much more complicated than you have put it, we are in very hard times, Bahrainis are fighting fellow Bahrainis, criminals are taking advantage of the unrest, families don't feel safe anymore, it is a feeling alien to us. It is about time our country's forces took action, and if any life is regretfully lost on both sides of this equation than it must be remembered as a necessary yet very sad phase in our history and in our return to social harmony. We accept this action taken by our government and yearn for the safety of yesterday.