Bahrain, Libya Take Lead In Middle Eastern Revolution, Further Testing U.S. Diplomacy

Kevin Douglas Grant | February 17, 2011
Executive Editor

After a pre-dawn raid on protesters in the capital of Manama killed four and injured hundreds, Bahrain’s government has emerged as surpisingly less moderate than the Obama administration had estimated a few months ago.

Following the attack on Lulu Roundabout, the New York Times’ Nick Kristof tweeted: “King Hamad of #Bahrain will never regain credibility after attacking peaceful protesters as they slept. Blood is forever on his hands.”

In December, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the small island of Bahrain and met with King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa, saying afterward:

“I am very impressed by the progress that Bahrain is making on all fronts – economically, politically, socially. There is a very comprehensive vision of where the people and the Government of Bahrain are headed.”

Now President Obama is reassessing his stance toward Bahrain, a key military ally of the United States.  Although he has refrained from condemning its government, Clinton has reached out privately to “urge restraint,” The New York Times reported:

“What the administration does with Bahrain is likely to be a telling indicator of how it will deal with the balance between protecting its strategic interests, and promoting democracy — a balance some critics said it never properly struck in its sometimes awkward response to the Egyptian turmoil.”

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