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Tue 8 Nov 2011 08:03 AM

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Clinton urges Saudi, Bahrain to embrace Arab Spring

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

Clinton urges Saudi, Bahrain to embrace Arab Spring
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.

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The US will hold Bahrain to its commitments to allow
peaceful protest and release political prisoners, Clinton said. While reforms
and equality are “in Bahrain’s interests, in the region’s interest and in
ours,” Clinton said, “endless unrest benefits Iran.”

Palestinians also “deserve dignity, liberty and the right to
decide their own future,” Clinton said. The only way to achieve that is through
negotiations with Israel, Clinton said.

The Middle East’s protest movements may bring to power
groups and parties that the US disagrees with, Clinton acknowledged. She said
she is asked about this most often in the context of Islamic political parties.
“The suggestion that faithful Muslims cannot thrive in a democracy is
insulting, dangerous and wrong,” she said.

While “reasonable people can disagree on a lot,” Clinton
said the crucial factor will be adherence to basic democratic principles.
Parties must reject violence, abide by the rule of law and respect freedom of
speech, association and assembly, as well as the rights of women and
minorities, she said. “In other words, what parties call themselves is less
important than what they do,” Clinton said.

The US has the resources, capabilities and expertise to
support those trying to make the transition to democracy, Clinton said. Groups
like National Democratic Institute can help with the nuts and bolts of
democracy, teaching people how to form a political party, how to ensure women
participate in government and how to foster civil society.

Mindful of the economic roots of the unrest, the Obama
administration is also promoting trade, investment and regional integration,
Clinton said.

“With so much that can go wrong and so much that can go
right, support for emerging Arab democracies is an investment we can’t afford
not to make,” she said.

satish hanover 8 years ago

Wake up American revolution & listen to Clinton breaching fundemental principles of independence bill.All peoples are equal, Bahrain pro democracy protesters raised demands 100% consistent with American rhetoric of defender of free world & democracy.Bahrain has been the litmus paper for US administration credibility.Sorry American people Mrs Clinton has forwarded argument that US admn is hypocrite it's words contridict it's deeds.Bahrain Pearls square stand by occupy movements & with 99% movements but strongly condemen US admn hypocricy & double standard.

Marijke 8 years ago

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.

procan 8 years ago

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

keenObzerver 8 years ago

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.

JJ 8 years ago

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")

Nasser 8 years ago

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.

A.Rahman Rashed 8 years ago

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.