New tensions mar U.S. optimism on “ Arab spring”

Few Washington policymakers had any illusions that the sense of new, if tentative, possibility that greeted the wave of pro-democracy popular uprisings in the Middle East would be free of complications, setbacks and risks. Still, Washington seemed taken by surprise as long-time ally Saudi Arabia sent 2 ,000 troops and the United Arab Emirates some 500 police into neighboring Bahrain Monday. The ostensible purpose of the deployments was to protect “critical infrastructure” amid swelling anti-government protests. Bahrain’s Sunni king further inflamed sectarian tensions there Tuesday, declaring a three-month state of emergency and authorizing security forces to take all necessary measures to quell anti-government protests. A leader of Bahrain’s largest Shiite opposition party, Wefaq, promptly condemned the declaration of martial law and foreign troop occupation, and called on the international community to intervene. “The army is in control of society now,” Wafeq party politician Jasim Hussein told Reuters. “We condemn this and call on the international community to live up to its responsibilities.” Notably, the provocative moves by three close U.S. allies came just two days after Defense Secretary Robert Gates held meetings in Bahrain Saturday, in which he reportedly urged Bahrain’s leaders to open a dialogue with opposition groups. According to reports, Gates also gently admonished his audience for taking too modest “baby steps” toward political reform in the country, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s fifth fleet. Full Story » New tensions mar U.S. optimism on “ Arab spring” By Laura Rozen

~ by imammukyidin15 on March 15, 2011.

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