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BAHRAIN: Gates urges reform to keep Iran at bay amid renewed violence

Gates khalifa
Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged United States ally Bahrain to take "far-reaching steps" toward reform, and quickly, in order to prevent Iran from exploiting the rift between the Sunni monarchy and the largely Shiite protesters.

"I expressed the view that we had no evidence that suggested that Iran started any of these popular revolutions or demonstrations across the region," Gates said Saturday following talks with Bahrain's king and crown prince. Bahraini officials have repeatedly tried to discredit the anti-government protest movement by alleging links to Iran and the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, a claim the protesters deny.

"But there is clear evidence that as the process is protracted, particularly in Bahrain, the Iranians are looking for ways to exploit it and create problems," Gates said, according to Agence France-Presse. "So I told them, in this instance, time is not our friend."

Gates' comments followed renewed violence in Bahrain, home to the U.S. 5th Fleet, on Friday when clashes erupted between pro- and anti-government groups just outside the capital of Manama.

Retuers bahrain Conflicting reports have emerged as to the nature of the force used by the government's side, but multiple media sources reported "hundreds" were injured when a planned march to the royal palace in Riffa erupted into clashes with security forces and government loyalists.

CNN described an apparently organized group of government supporters numbering in the hundreds carrying "swords, hatchets, metal pieces, cricket instruments and pieces of wood with nails hammered into them."

Bahrain's ambassador to the U.S., Houda Ezra Nonoo, described the violence as "sectarian clashes" between Sunni and Shiite elements in a statement.

While the Obama administration has not abandoned the ruling Khalifa family as an ally, the U.S. recently announced an investigation into the role Bahraini security forces have played in the violent crackdown against protests that has killed several people and injured hundreds more.

--Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photos, from top: Defense Secretary Robert Gates meets with King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in Bahrain (credit: AFP); largely Shia anti-government demonstrators have been demanding reform and, increasingly, regime change from the Sunni-dominated government (credit: Lin Noueihed/Reuters).

Comments () | Archives (6)

It is very obvious why this crackdown and foreign troops infusion in to Bahrain took place right after Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the Island of Bahrain!! Isn't it? We in the US talks and boast about love of democracy, but it is clear that we lie with actions such as this. Freedom is for us to do what we want and the Arabs or the Muslims of this world have to gain it by dieing for theirs. This is another shameful interference by us to squash voices who demand freedom from these Wahabi tyrants. we will see this policy of our to backfire once more, no doubt about it. Freedom will come to Bahrain one way or another.

If there is two cool head in the US, one of them belongs to Mr. gate. The few words that is mentioned here about his idea tell us that the fat cat Wahabi tyrants have to go. Power to the people and majority rules. Anything other than this will not be a provocation from Iran, but it is the failures of the Arab culture and their Wahabi rulers. After Qazafi these Wahabis should see what is waiting for them and pack their bags to head to London and start cooking hamburgers.

Iran is becoming strong with increase of influence in a territory once was the Empire
America using the wealth of one and half billion humans of nations undeserved for a better life

The minimum reform is to have people elect their leader. Sooner or later Bahrain will be freed from Saudi agents. Bahrain number one enemy is Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa Al Sauidi Agent. His historical mission is to change people religious from Shia to Wahabi and make Bahrain a Saudi stat. That is why he is expelling original citizen out of Bahrain and has given citizenship to a large number of Sunnis from Saudi Arabia for several decades. Washington’s interest is to support democracy.

More fear-mongering.

Why is it that the US can go around legitimizing certain movements and telling governments to bring reform?

We Americans do not run the world.

Iran is becoming strong with increase of influence in a territory once was the Empire
America is using the wealth of one and half billion humans of nations undeserved for a better life?


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