Why is US backing force in Libya but not Bahrain, Yemen? – by Andrew North


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An open letter to President Obama: People of Bahrain need your help

U.S. follows two paths on unrest in Iran and Bahrain – by Mark Landler and David E. Sanger

What’s the difference between Libya and Yemen or Bahrain?

All three states have been using violence to crush pro-democracy protests.

But only against Libya are the US and its Western allies planning a military response.

Yemen and Bahrain’s crackdowns have so far been met only with words, not action.

On one level the answer is obvious.

Bahrain and Yemen are US allies – especially Bahrain with its large US naval base. Libya is not.

The US response to Bahrain is further complicated by neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Washington’s number one Arab ally.

Sunni ‘red line’
The Saudis were not happy to see Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak go.

Losing the Sunni monarchy in its neighbour is a red line – that’s why it took the unprecedented step of sending 1,000 troops over the border into Bahrain, after which the crackdown began.

But what happened to the “universal values” US President Barack Obama cited when he eventually backed protesters in Egypt?

His decision to abandon an old US ally there – Mr Mubarak – gave some the impression he was preparing to apply those values universally and to break with the past US policy of cosying up to other Middle Eastern regimes.

Critics say it was a dangerous impression, raising protesters’ expectations as well as Gulf monarchs’ blood pressure.

‘Interests come first’
“The US always preaches values that it cannot live up to,” says Marina Ottaway, director of the Middle East programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

“In the end, its interests come first.”

As the uprisings have spread out of North Africa to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, those interests have come to the fore again, with Washington taking a more cautious, country-by-country approach.

For the US, stability in those oil-rich states now appears to trump the hopes of their protest movements.

Yemen is crucial to Washington for its battle with al-Qaeda – which makes the Obama administration cautious in how hard it pushes Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

“The US is very afraid that if Saleh goes, Yemen will fall apart,” Ms Ottaway says.

Mr Obama condemned the latest violence in Yemen, in which at least 30 protesters were killed.

Reluctance
But he would only call for “those responsible… to be held accountable”, without directly laying it at Mr Saleh’s door.

Washington has had a low-key response as well to violence used by Iraqi security forces against protesters there.

Even with Libya, the new caution is on display. The administration was reluctant for some time to back a no-fly zone, fearing it could lead to a third US war on a Muslim country, after Afghanistan and Iraq.

It only did so only after it got support from Arab states and European allies.

And it is still not clear how much the US will contribute militarily to the UN-backed no-fly zone or what will happen if Col Gaddafi succeeds in hanging onto power.

With recent history in mind and the tide of protest still sweeping through the region, caution arguably looks a sensible policy from a US point of view.

But it also risks giving conservative Arab leaders the breathing space they need to stall the push for reform and hang on.

Having watched Tunisia and Egypt go, other Arab leaders are following Libya’s lead in drawing a line in the sand and opting for force rather than dialogue.

It’s not clear if Mr Obama can do anything about it.

Source: BBC News


8 responses to “Why is US backing force in Libya but not Bahrain, Yemen? – by Andrew North”

  1. 20 hours before the Saudi invasion of Bahrain:

    Gates urges parties in Bahrain to begin dialogue
    US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was convinced Bahrain was ready to take more than “baby steps” toward reforms
    By Habib Toumi, Bureau chiefPublished: 01:12 March 13, 2011

    King Hamad receive GatesImage Credit: BNA

    Manama: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was convinced Bahrain was ready to take more than “baby steps” toward reforms, but the opposition movement’s slow response to enter negotiations is allowing more time for Iranian influence to foment.

    “There is clear evidence that as the process is protracted – particularly in Bahrain – that the Iranians are looking for ways to exploit it and create problems,” Gates was quoted by Stars and Stripes as telling reporters on the way home from Bahrain.

    Gates, the first cabinet secretary to visit Bahrain since the start of protests for reforms on February 14, was received by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa on Saturday. Gates arrived in Bahrain on Friday evening in a previously unannounced visit.

    “I’m convinced that they both are serious about real reform and about moving forward,” he said. “I think the concern now is that they have somebody to talk to,” Gates was quoted as saying by the military news portal.

    http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/bahrain/gates-urges-parties-in-bahrain-to-begin-dialogue-1.775591

  2. George Galloway on Bahrain

    This is not Shia-Sunni, this is movement for democracy and human rights.

    Other TV channels are all of a sudden short of cameras in Bahrain.

  3. “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy

  4. No surprises here. Bahrain is just too important as a host for the US 5th Fleet. The Saudis cant tolerate a toppling of the Sunni regime as that might invigorate the Shite population in Eastern Saudi Arabia. Then ofcourse, so many Pakistanis are justifying Pakistani involvement as well.

  5. Slain protester embodied woes of Bahrain’s Shi’ites

    By Erika Solomon
    MANAMA | Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:21am EDT

    (Reuters) – Penniless, unmarried and unemployed, 30-year-old Ali Farhan embodied many of the grievances that propelled Bahraini Shi’ites to protest in the street — only to be buried in a sandy grave.

    Thousands shouting “Down with the regime” watched as his wooden coffin was lowered into a rocky plot on Friday among nameless graves overrun with brittle weeds and faded flags.

    Farhan is one of eleven demonstrators to die in clashes with security forces since protests first rocked Manama last month.

    He was one of the thousands of mostly Shi’ite protesters from ramshackle suburbs that ring the capital, who complain they are neglected by their Sunni rulers on the island, a regional financial hub where the U.S. Navy houses Fifth Fleet.

    “I feel what I think everyone’s feeling — there’s a pain like my heart is burning up … but we’ll continue our protests until this regime falls,” said Youssef Ali, a friend of Farhan who shared a prison cell with him when the two were around 15.

    In the late 1990s, a youthful Farhan joined protests for reform. He was rounded up, and released after three years in jail. He never finished school and could never make ends meet as a fisherman.

    Bahrain’s majority Shi’ites, who make up more than 60 percent of the population, have long complained of discrimination in jobs and services.

    Most are calling for a constitutional monarchy and democratic reforms. A smaller number have also demanded the overthrow of the monarchy, alarming the ruling Sunni al-Khalifa family and prompting their clampdown.

    Farhan’s dream of a wife and family was impossible. With no good job or money, he never moved out of the three rooms of concrete slabs and sheet metal that housed 10 other family members.

    On March 15, he told his sister it was too much to bear. He drove out to join protesters gathered in the heart of the city.

    “We heard gunshots. He said he couldn’t take it anymore. He said, ‘Why should we be silent?’” his sister Fatima recalled.

    “He told me there will need to be some bloodshed. Without it we wont be able to win,” she shouted, standing in one of their tiny rooms amid sobbing female relatives crouched on the floor.

    An hour after he left Fatima, Farhan was shot several times in the back of the head with buckshot. His skull was split open, his brain spilled out into the street.

    “I’m glad that he died as a martyr. But I feel his absence. He helped me raise my four children, he helped me wash our clothes … We did everything together,” she said.

    Outside, rising anti-Khalifa chants at the funeral drowned out the drone of a police helicopter flying overhead.

    “The Khalifa family is on its way out,” Farhan’s brother- in-law, Mahmoud, said. “In the end, our problem with them isn’t political, it’s about our humanity … Next time, we’ll all go out into the streets, men and women. No one will stay home.”

    (Editing by Peter Graff)

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/19/us-bahrain-protests-funeral-idUSTRE72I2KP20110319

  6. It’s Justice Stupid!: Why Be Confused About American Foreign Policy?
    Dr. Robert D. Crane

    Posted Mar 19, 2011 • Permalink • Printer-Friendly Version
    It’s Justice Stupid!: Why Be Confused About American Foreign Policy?
    by Dr. Robert D. Crane

    This morning, March 18th, Jeremy Henzell Thomas, writes, “I heard an interview with a State Department official on BBC radio yesterday in which he said that American policy was always directed to American strategic interests and not to ideals of freedom and democracy in foreign lands! I’m confused. Aren’t we all?”

    There is no reason at all to be confused about American foreign (or domestic) policy if one disinguishes between ultimate goals and short versus long-term objectives in their pursuit.
    To begin with, America as a nation more than any other nation (which is why we are “exceptional”) is caught in a dialectic between freedom/ democracy and survival. We are very serious about freedom and democracy, though exceptionally few policy makers appreciate that the Founders of America insisted that truth and its application through justice is the only ultimate goal and that freedom and democracy can never be more than hoped for results.
    The dilemma arises when we see a conflict between free democracy (as distinct from totalitarian democracy a la the French Revolution) and protection of our vital interests necessary for survival. My experience in preparing policy papers and talks for three presidents and several cabinet officers is that “needs” always trump goals. We need free access to the resources of the world, such as oil, and we need to promote creative destruction (as in Iraq) in order to thwart the enemies of global civilization, such as Saddam Hussain, Al Qa’ida, and “Islamic radicals” everywhere (especially now at home).
    The dilemma here is whether and how to choose priorities between short-range and long-range objectives in pursuit of our ultimate goals. For example, over the long-run pragmatic policymakers suspect that the soft power of freedom and democracy in the world is more reliable as a defense of our national needs than is hard power (brute force). Over the short run of a few years, however, they fear that the threat of radicals hijacking free peoples outweighs the potential of democracy to produce a world conducive to America’s needs.
    For example, Bahrain may be perhaps the world’s most corrupt and unjust country in the world, but we must maintain the monarchy that has exploited the people of Bahrain for two hundred years ever since the Sunni Al Khalifa tribe invaded the ancient Shi’a nation of Bahrain. Why? Simply because our Fifth Fleet is stationed there to “protect” Saudi Arabia against Iran. Secretary Gates visited Bahrain the day before the Saudi’s declared that they would invade Bahrain to meet its own (and America’s) national security “needs”.
    The U.S.-China relationship is a classic example of the dialectic between short-run and long-run needs. Over the short run we need China to keep its assets parked in America in the form of Treasuries so that we do not have to declare bankruptcy and so that ultimately we can expand our export markets to offset imports. But much more serious over the long run is the threat that China and related alliances can pose to continued American domination of global finances, particularly by hi-jacking the system of money and credit that we have exported all over the world as our ultimate weapon of self-defense.
    The dilemmas in American foreign policy, as well as domestically, occur because we have abandoned the very concept of justice. President Obama is the first president since Ronald Reagan to speak about and even emphasize justice, but Obama seems to have absolutely no concept of what justice is, and President Reagan never followed through on any of his most cherished policies. In practice, though perhaps not in theory, their ultimate goal was not justice but personal political survival as taught to them day by day by their advisors for whom justice was not even worthy to be the subject of a joke.
    The most dangerous threat to the future of civilization is American ignorance of what motivated America’s Founders, namely, that all ultimate purpose and true authority comes from seeking and observing the natural law that lies at the core of all world religions. We can save our own and the other civilizations in the world only if and to the extent that we can serve as a model in recovering our transcendent, traditionalist roots so that we can rehabilitate the role of religion in the world not as the cause of our otherwise intractible problems but as the only solution.

    http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/its_justice_stupid_why_be_confused_about_american_foreign_policy/0018465

  7. USA policy: #Saudi King Abdullah, #Bahrain King Hamad are our sons of a bitch, Gaddafi is not. http://bbc.in/eqR0V3

    اچھے خبیث، برے خبیث

    وسعت اللہ خان
    بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، کراچی

    حالانکہ کرنل قذافی پچھلے دس برس سے اچھے بچے بنے ہوئے ہیں۔ سابق برطانوی وزیرِ اعظم ٹونی بلیئر قذافی کے خیمے میں قہوہ پی چکے ہیں، اطالوی وزیرِ اعظم برلسکونی کرنل کے ذاتی دوست ہیں۔

    فرانسیسی صدر سرکوزی نے کرنل کا چار برس پہلے پیرس میں شاندار استقبال کیا، براک اوبامہ جی ایٹ کے ایک اجلاس میں کرنل سے ہاتھ ملا چکے ہیں لیکن جب مغرب اپنے سب سے بڑے علاقائی دوست حسنی مبارک کی آمرانہ روش برداشت نہیں کر پایا تو بھلا پارہ صفت کرنل کس کھیت کی مولی ہے۔

    جو کام کرنل قذافی اپنے شہریوں کے خلاف کر رہے ہیں وہی کام یمن کے صدر علی عبداللہ صالح کے ماہر نشانچی بھی کر رہے ہیں۔ صرف ایک دن میں صنعا یونیورسٹی کے آس پاس پچاس کے لگ بھگ بے گناہ جمہوریت نواز شہری لِٹا دیئے گئے۔گذشتہ چھ ہفتے کے دوران یمن میں دو سو سے زائد جمہوریت پسند ہلاک ہو چکے ہیں۔

    جس طرح کرنل قذافی مسلسل چیخ رہے ہیں کہ انہیں القاعدہ کے خلاف جنگ میں شریک ہونے کے باوجود سزا دی جا رہی ہے اسی طرح یمن کی حکومت بھی القاعدہ کے خلاف جنگ میں مغرب کی کلیدی اتحادی ہے۔

    چلیے کم ازکم یہ تو طے ہوا کہ اگر کسی ظالم حکمراں نے اپنے نہتے شہریوں کو ننگی طاقت کے بل پر خاموش کرانے کی کوشش کی تو پھر اقوامِ متحدہ اپنے طاقتور رکن ممالک کی مدد سے ایسے ظالموں کا ہاتھ روکنے کی کوشش کرے گی۔ لیکن ڈر صرف اتنا ہے کہ اگر یہ اصول بھی پہلے کی طرح اچھے خبیث اور برے خبیث ، ہمارے خبیث اور تمہارے خبیث کے انتخاب کی بھینٹ چڑھ گیا تو پھر جو کام لیبیا سے شروع ہوا ہے وہ لیبیا پر ہی ختم ہوجائے گا۔
    گذشتہ ہفتے جب بادشاہ کے اختیارات محدود کرنے اور ایک آدمی ایک ووٹ کی بنیاد پر بااختیار پارلیمنٹ اور جمہوری آئین کا نعرہ لگانے والی تحریک اغوا کرنے کے لیے خلیج تعاون کونسل کے بینر تلے سعودی فوجی دستے بحرین میں داخل ہوئے تو تمام عالمی توجہ اور کیمرے لیبیا اور جاپان کے زلزلے پر مرکوز تھے۔

    مناما کے پرل سکوائر میں مظاہرین کے خیمے جلا دیے گئے اور چوک کے بیچ میں کشتیوں اور سمندری موتیوں کا علامتی اسکلپچر بلڈوزروں سے اکھاڑ پھینکا گیا۔ اب مارشل لا نافذ کر کے کہا جارہا ہے کہ مظاہرین جمہوریت نواز نہیں بلکہ ایرانی ایجنٹ ہیں۔

    کچھ دانشور کہہ رہے ہیں کہ بحرین کا کیس مختلف ہے۔بحرین میں فوجی مداخلت کے لیے سعودیوں اور انکے اتحادیوں کو اقوامِ متحدہ سے سرٹیفکیٹ لینے کی ضرورت نہیں کیونکہ سعودی ازخود نہیں بلکہ بحرینی حکومت کی درخواست پر ملک میں داخل ہوئے ہیں۔

    اگر یہ دلیل درست مان لی جائے تو پھر سوویت افواج کی سن چھپن میں ہنگری ، سن اڑسٹھ میں چیکو سلوواکیہ اور سن اناسی میں افغانستان میں فوجی مداخلت بھی جائز تھی کیونکہ وہ میزبان حکومتوں کی دعوت پر وہاں تشریف لے گئے تھے۔ جس طرح سعودی دستے خلیج تعاون کونسل کا جھنڈا لہراتے ہوئے مناما میں داخل ہوئے اسی طرح سوویت ٹینک بھی وارسا پیکٹ کے جھنڈے تلے بوڈاپسٹ اور پراگ میں داخل ہوئے تھے۔

    چھ ہفتے کے دوران یمن میں دو سو سے زائد جمہوریت پسند ہلاک ہو چکے ہیں۔

    تب سوویت یونین کو بنیادی آزادیوں کا قاتل ٹھہرایا گیا اور آج بحرین کے آپریشن کو خلیج میں سیاسی استحکام کی کاروائی بتایا جا رہا ہے۔ ایک ہفتہ گزرنے کے بعد بھی معلوم نہیں ہو پا رہا کہ عرب دنیا میں شہری آزادیوں کا نعرہ لگانے والوں کے خلاف طاقت کے استعمال کے مخالف مغربی ممالک اور اقوامِ متحدہ کا بحرین کے بارے میں دو ٹوک موقف کیا ہے۔

    چلیے کم ازکم یہ تو طے ہوا کہ اگر کسی ظالم حکمراں نے اپنے نہتے شہریوں کو ننگی طاقت کے بل پر خاموش کرانے کی کوشش کی تو پھر اقوامِ متحدہ اپنے طاقتور رکن ممالک کی مدد سے ایسے ظالموں کا ہاتھ روکنے کی کوشش کرے گی۔

    لیکن ڈر صرف اتنا ہے کہ اگر یہ اصول بھی پہلے کی طرح اچھے خبیث اور برے خبیث ، ہمارے خبیث اور تمہارے خبیث کے انتخاب کی بھینٹ چڑھ گیا تو پھر جو کام لیبیا سے شروع ہوا ہے وہ لیبیا پر ہی ختم ہوجائے گا۔۔۔۔

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2011/03/110320_baat_se_baat_zs.shtml

  8. Yemen Shiite Fighters Vow To Push On For Regime Change
    The Huthi fighters in Yemen pledge to to keep up their campaign for regime change in Yemen, saying that GCC deal with President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down did not answer the demands of the people.

    Shiite fighters vowed on Saturday to keep up their campaign for regime change in Yemen, saying that a deal struck by the parliamentary opposition that eases veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of power does not go far enough.

    The Huthi fighters from Yemen’s Zaidi Shiite, who have fought a bloody war with Saleh’s regime in the northern mountains over the past decade, said they had formed an alliance with three small opposition parties, to work to “achieve the aims of the revolution.”

    The fighters’ political chief, Saleh al-Habra, said that the Gulf-brokered deal, which Saleh signed in November after months of stalling, did “not answer the demands of the people.”

    “The aims of the revolution include the fall of the regime and creating a civil state in which all sects and groups take part, as well as changing the constitution,” Habra told AFP by telephone.

    He slammed the main opposition parties, which struck the deal with Saleh and now lead a caretaker government charged with preparing for early presidential elections in February.

    He said that three smaller parties — the Union of Popular Forces, Baath and Haq — had agreed to continue the campaign for regime change, even though they have a minister each in the interim government of national accord.

    Huthi supporters among the large crowds of anti-Saleh protesters who have occupied the capital’s Change Square clashed last month with backers of the Islah party, Yemen’s largest parliamentary opposition group.

    The protesters have expressed anger at promises of immunity from prosecution extended to Saleh and his family under the Gulf deal.

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay too has criticised the promised amnesties, saying on Friday that international law and UN policy were clear.

    “Amnesties are not permissible if they prevent the prosecution of individuals who may be criminally responsible for international crimes including war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and gross violations of human rights,” she said.

    http://shiapost.com/?p=10876