STRONG U.S.-BAHRAIN ALLIANCE
Speaking recently to the University of Bahrain, Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN), a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, characterized the relationship between the United States and Bahrain as being more important now than ever, and warned that America needs to be attentive to this relationship.
While “Arab Spring” brings hope for many, and few can argue with true democratic reform, it also brings dangerous uncertainty to a region of vital importance to America, particularly with the wholesale effort being made by radical leadership in Tehran to influence outcomes, as it successfully did in Lebanon.
For 300 years, Bahrain has been a stable, peaceful, and tolerant land, marching steadily toward continued openness and inclusion. The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal rank it just behind the U.S. as the most economically free country in the world.
The country hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which not only keeps stability in the region while ensuring that the Strait of Hormuz remains open to shipping—including vital oil from the Middle East—but also counters Iran’s expansionist designs in the region.
Bahrain is among the Gulf States committed to the alliance with the U.S., providing a foundation for real and constructive political reform, rather than radical interventionism. King Hamad is committed to justice and reconciliation for mistakes that were made during the recent uprisings. He has opened investigations, welcomed foreign journalists to enter and freely report, and he has set up a process for restitution, including recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI).
We can expect this commitment from King Hamad and the Crown Prince to continue. However, we can also expect Iran’s dangerous objectives to flourish, as well, fomenting unrest and then ironically calling upon international human rights groups to condemn and force a wedge between Bahrain and the United States.
Thoughtful engagement must prevail. As the government of Bahrain has acknowledged, “We do not claim to be perfect. But we do claim to be good...We continue to seek common ground, and to seek a dialogue with all our citizens, so that we can develop a national consensus about how we will govern ourselves and how we will coexist…We claim the right to govern ourselves as a sovereign country, and we look forward to engaging the political opposition in our own country, in an honest dialogue, and to coming up with a plan that can be submitted for the approval of all the people in Bahrain. This is how political progress is achieved.”
This is a stark contrast to how Iran handled the opposition during the Green Revolution that resulted in death and torture for so many. Families of those who were killed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s forces were charged $3,000 by the government for the bullets that killed their children.The choice is ours, and it has never been so important.