Friday, February 18, 2011

Americans less enthusiastic about democracy in Bahrain

"Bahrain's Shia have long been discriminated against in the country and they say their protests have nothing to do with Iran and everything with wanting to be accepted as full Bahraini citizens. They accuse the authorities of waving the spectre of Iran to stop the West from supporting them.

It may well be working for now. When hundreds of thousands of people took the streets in Egypt, many American officials, briefly forgetful of the complications this presented for their foreign policy, were glued to their television sets and some sounded ever so slightly excited at the sight of people power in action in the Arab world on such a scale.

There is none of that enthusiasm about the unfolding events in Manama. The violence of the security forces has shocked many and the sectarian undertones, real or imagined, mean everybody is more careful about the positions they take in public.

American officials have been very tight-lipped about their conversations with Arab rulers, only emphasising in public the need for real reform, repeatedly. It is an attempt by Washington to try to avoid having to choose again between an Arab leader and his people."

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