If one were asked to write a list of nations strategically important to the United States, it is doubtful that Bahrain would make an appearance. In fact, before the ‘Great Arab Revolt’ of 2010-11, most Americans probably lacked the ability to locate Bahrain on a map, much less understand the vital strategic importance of this small island nation. However, Bahrain is a crucial hub in America’s regional imperial strategy. In what follows, we offer a primer on Bahrain focusing specifically on US interests in the region and the recent upheaval that has caught much of the world off guard. Our purpose is to educate concerned citizens desiring knowledge about America’s role in world affairs.
What is Bahrain?
Bahrain is a tiny nation consisting of 33 islands with a territory of about 717 square miles (to put that into context, it is about 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC).1 The country is located in the Persian Gulf midway between the Qatar peninsula and Saudi Arabia. In 1986, Bahrain opened the 16 mile King Fahd causeway which links it directly to Saudi Arabia. The Persian Gulf contains the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s vital oil choke points. The importance of this choke point gives Bahrain a strategic location. Further, as Bahrain is positioned between Iran and Saudi Arabia, it is perceived as essential in checking Iran’s regional influence.
Bahrain became a British Protectorate in 1866 and retained its protectorate status until gaining formal independence on August 5, 1971. Some media outlets have asserted, with little evidence, that Iran considers Bahrain to be its “fourteenth province.” These allegations perhaps stem from a statement attributed to Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, an Iranian government official. As will be explained in more detail below, the reasons for exaggerating Iranian influence in Bahrain are readily explicable. For now, it is worth noting that Iran formally accepts United Nations Security Council Resolution 278 which explicitly endorses Bahrain’s independence asserting that, as a “sovereign state,” Bahrain should be “free to decide for itself its relations with other states.”2 Consistent with this, the Bahraini leadership, according to classified cables released by wikileaks, does not take Iran’s alleged comments seriously.3
Although Bahrain is considered one of the more liberal Gulf States, competitors includes such bastions of liberty as Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar. The country has been ruled by the ‘soft’ fist of the Khalifa family since 1783. Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the current king, took power when his father died in 1999. Like many US designated “moderates” in the region, Hamad is friendly to American interests and received his formal education in Western institutions (Cambridge, the US Army Command and Staff College). On February 15, 2002, Bahrain became a nominal constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislation. However, the King appoints the 40 member upper house (Majlis al-Shura); the commanders of the armed forces; all judges and governors; and is legally able to amend the constitution and write law.4 His uncle, Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, is currently the longest serving Prime Minister in the world. The twenty-five member cabinet Salman Al Khalifa presides over contains 20 members from the royal family. The lower house (Majlis Al-Nuwab), which is directly elected, has little power in shaping the affairs of the nation.
Bahrain has experienced rapid population growth over the last 10 years. Most of this growth can be attributed to the ever increasing presence of guest workers, who now comprise 54% of the Bahraini population (most guest workers are from Southwest India).5 Undoubtedly the largest demographic issue in Bahrain is the majority Shia population. Approximately 70% of native Bahrainis are Shi’ites, while the ruling family and most elites are Sunnis. This state of affairs has led to a quasi-apartheid mentality among the Sunni ruling family. Currently, Shi’ites are not allowed to work in the army, the intelligence service, or the police force, nor are they fairly represented in top-level governmental positions6. Indeed, as Nicholas Kristof wrote of the Khalifa’s attitude toward Shi’ites in his New York Times Blog: “the language of the ruling party sounds a lot to me like the language of white South Africans — or even like the language of white southerners in Jim Crow America, or the language of militant Israeli settlers in the West Bank. There’s a fear of the rabble, a distrust of full democracy, a sense of entitlement.”7
While myriad variables contributed to the Bahraini uprising, there are systematic factors which allow for greater understanding of the protestors’ grievances. Certainly the uprising in Tunisia, which led President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee on January 14th, and the later uprising in Egypt, which led to the eventual overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, played a large role in emboldening those individuals already infuriated with the Khalifa regime. However, the protests are not simply the result of “contagion.” Aside from sectarian tensions, Bahrain is home to a swelling youth population (median age is 30.1 years, see reference 1), many of whom have watched the Sunni elite appropriate land to construct luxurious buildings and mega-malls: an attempt to attract tourists from the region and rich investors from Europe and the United States. At the same time, inner-city and village conditions have deteriorated and environmental degradation is rampant.8 Finance comprises 25% of Bahrain’s GDP, making the nation a “regional financial hub” according to the Heritage Foundation, which lauds the Kingdom’s “commitment to structural reforms” and “openness to global commerce.”9 Bahrain has followed what geographer David Harvey calls “accumulation by dispossession.”10 This form of neoliberal accumulation entails financialization, commodification, privatization, and state redistribution to elite sectors. For too long, the human costs of these policies have fallen on the majority Shia population while the Sunni elite have reaped the benefits. Unlike other nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Bahrain lacks the Croesusesque petroleum wealth to satiate its population through the provision of free housing, education, healthcare, food subsidies and jobs for life. This lack of provisioning has led some commentators to assert that the nation’s issues lie in the perceived breach of a tribal social contract that entails the tit of acquiescence to tyranny for the tat of guaranteed social welfare.11
While neoliberalism goes some way toward explaining recent protests, the oppression of Shi’ites, as partially documented above, is an important factor. The Shia majority has protested on and off for decades with nothing yet to show for their efforts. In 2006, Dr. Salah Al Bandar allegedly uncovered a conspiracy headed by government officials who wished to foment sectarian strife and keep the majority population oppressed. The conspiracy included spying on Shi’ites and subsidizing new Sunni converts.12 Many Shi’ites believe that the government fast-tracks Sunni naturalization in order to alter the demographic balance. This widespread belief is supported both by demographic statistics and by Dr. Bandar’s report. Through 2008 and 2009, there were increasing reports of Shi’ites suffering oppression and humiliation at the hands of the Sunni elite. Poor Shia villages around the capital, Manama, reported unemployment rates up to 50%. This while foreign nationals, who are willing to work for a lower wage, were entering the country at alarming rates. Shi’ites also complained that they faced discriminatory hiring in the public sector.13 In 2009, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights documented continuing religious discrimination against Shi’ites, including the ridicule of their beliefs on state-sponsored television.14 As tensions between Shi’ites and the government mounted, protests in Shia villages were organized nightly. The Khalifa regime sent Sunnis to bring order to the villages, leading to even more discontent and anger.
The grievances documented above are selective. It is possible to fill a large volume documenting the Khalifa clique’s many abuses of Shi’ites. This combination of neoliberal dispossession, overt oppression, and contagion from the Arab Revolt proved to be more than enough to spark an uprising. The current protests began on February 14, 2011, which marked the tenth anniversary of the National Action Charter.15 On February 14-15, two protesters were reportedly killed. Subsequently, protesters moved to Pearl Roundabout in central Manama where, on the 17th and18th, riot police attacked with tear gas, rubber bullets, live rounds, and metallic pellets. Many of the protesters who suffered injuries were moved to Salmaniya hospital which reported being filled with injured protesters, some of whom were arriving “with their brains blown out.”16 There have been at least seven confirmed deaths and over 200 injuries since the protests began.17 After the government crackdown, Washington, no doubt embarrassed by the actions of its ally, strongly urged restraint. The White House issued a statement which read in part: “As a long-standing partner of Bahrain, the President said that the United States believes that the stability of Bahrain depends upon respect for the universal rights of the people of Bahrain, and a process of meaningful reform that is responsive to the aspirations of all Bahrainis.”18 The tone is now one of reconciliation and national dialogue between the government of Bahrain and the protesters. Although the protests have continued, the government, restrained by Washington, has been much more circumspect in its response (see below on the “Bahrain model”).
US Interests in Bahrain
The US has obvious interests in the Middle East which involve possessing unfettered control of the oil resources of the region. Such control has long been understood to give the possessor tremendous international leverage. This desired control has led the US to pursue a policy which involves supporting rulers who obey its orders and opposing any signs of independence in the region, especially the scourge of independent nationalism.19 Dictators who follow Washington’s orders, even if rulers of theocratic and patriarchic states, are often given the label ‘moderate’ by commentators and pundits. As Stephen Zunes puts it:
"The term [moderate] is used primarily in reference to governments that have been friendly to the United States and its foreign policy goals in the Middle East; it has also been used in reference to governments that have been relatively less hostile towards Israel and U.S.-led peace initiatives. In either case, there is virtually no correlation between this label and a given government’s record on democracy and human rights."20
Human rights and democracy are of little importance to the US. Instead, the drivers of policy are furthering “national security interests” and maintaining or promoting “stability.” These terms, like most American political argot, need to be translated from the imperial tongue. “National security interest” generally refers to policies that are perceived to benefit elite sectors of the population and has little to do with true security. Indeed, many actions undertaken in the name of “national security” have predictably made the US less safe, such as the March, 2003 invasion of Iraq.21 “Stability,” per Noam Chomsky, refers to the “maintenance of specific forms of domination and control, and easy access to resources and profits.”22
Bahrain is an important strategic ally of the US: it promotes “stability” in the Gulf, and is vital to the administration’s goal of checking the “destabilizing” influence of Iran. Thus, supporting Bahrain furthers our nation’s “national security interests.” Not surprisingly, the Al-Khalifas are “moderates” in US nomenclature. A key element of Bahrain’s strategic importance is its location in the Persian Gulf through which about a fifth of the oil supplies of the world pass. Furthering Bahrain’s importance, it is the home of the US Navy Fifth Fleet which was logistically important in both Iraq wars, helps guard the strategic Strait of Hormuz, and serves as a counterweight to Iran in the Gulf. As explained on its official website, the Fifth Fleet “conducts persistent maritime operations to forward U.S. interests, deter and counter disruptive countries, defeat violent extremism and strengthen partner nations’ maritime capabilities in order to promote a secure maritime environment in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility.”23 Once the requisite translation is conducted, the mission of the Fifth Fleet becomes clear. In any future conflict with Iran, the Fifth Fleet would be essential. Aside from these functions, Bahrain’s Shi’ites present headaches for the Saudi ruling family. Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producer in the region and a staunch US ally. While Shi’ites make up only 15% of Saudi Arabia’s population, they are estimated to dominate in many of the key eastern petroleum cities, such as Qatif, Damman, and al-Hasa, which are geographically close to Bahrain. Many Shi’ites in Saudi Arabia relate more to fellow Shi’ites in Bahrain than they do their Sunni counterparts.24 The minority Shia population in Saudi Arabia has complained of discrimination and oppression for some time and the Saudi Kingdom has not been immune to the reverberations of the Arab revolt. On Wednesday, February 23, King Abdullah called for an additional 36 billion in social spending, including house-hold debt relief, more housing loans, and a 15% raise in wages for state workers.25 This came on the heels of Facebook calls for protests, the first of which consisted of around 100 Shi’ites and took place on March 4, leading to 22 arrests. The Kingdom’s most recent, if predictable, response has been to place a ban on all protests.26 Clearly, if Shi’ites in Bahrain were able to successfully overthrow the Khalifas it would place additional strain on Saudi Arabia and could potentially see Bahrain move closer to Iran. This is an eventuality that is not acceptable to US policy makers.
US Policy toward Bahrain in a Regional Context
US policy toward Bahrain and the Gulf states both before and during the uprising has been unequivocally supportive. From 2005 to 2009, the US sold around 37 billion dollars worth of arms to the Gulf states and recently announced a 60 billion dollar package, including 70 Apache attack helicopters and a fleet of F-15s, with Saudi Arabia.27,28 In 2010, the US provided Bahrain with an estimated 19 million dollars worth of foreign military funding.29 It is estimated that the countries comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council—Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, along with stalwart ally Jordan, will spend 70 billion dollars on defense in 2011. Much of this spending will be used to procure US arms.30 Arms sales and military assistance are often explained as moves designed to beef up the defense capabilities of the Gulf region in order to curtail Iran’s expansionist desires. While this may be one factor in the decision making process, there are more insidious reasons having little do with Iran. One reason for weapons sales, of course, is that it creates large profits for weapons manufacturers. Another reason these states purchase US weapons—and one which must be known to US policy makers—is that they can use them on their own populations, should they need to. This promotes “stability,” if we are fluent in the imperial tongue. Supporting the more insidious interpretation, while Bahraini officials have asserted that Iran is meddling in their internal affairs, the US has found no supportive evidence. A classified cable leaked by wikileaks discusses this issue:
"Bahraini government officials sometimes privately tell U.S. official visitors that some Shi’a oppositionists are backed by Iran. Each time this claim is raised, we ask the GOB [government of Bahrain] to share its evidence. To date, we have seen no convincing evidence of Iranian weapons or government money here since at least the mid-1990s, when followers of Ayatollah Shirazi were rounded up and convicted of sedition. (The so-called Shirazis were subsequently pardoned and some now engage in legal politics as the very small Amal party, which has no seats in Parliament.) In post’s assessment, if the GOB had convincing evidence of more recent Iranian subversion, it would quickly share it with us."31
Further support of the insidious interpretation comes from Bahrain’s response to the recent protests. The government quickly rolled out M60A3 tanks and flew F5 Freedom Fighter Warplanes, both made in the USA.32 Indeed, it is not at all clear why a tiny island nation with no conceivable enemy capable of invading—Iran would be insane to try—would need armored tanks. The US is not the only guilty party: British arms, including tear gas canisters, shotguns, and stun grenades were also used in the anti-protest crackdown.33 Whatever the exact reasons for arming Bahrain, it is clear that both Bahrain and the US have an interest in seeing Iran’s influence limited. If Bahrain exaggerates the nature of Iran’s influence over its Shi’ites, the US is only too happy to go along. Thus, there is a synergistic effect at work benefiting both sides. Aside from the cozy security relationship between the US and Bahrain, the two nations also have close commercial relations with each other including a bilateral free trade agreement which was signed into law by George W. Bush in 2006.
Given this milieu, it is unsurprising that the administration has not greeted the Bahraini uprising with the euphoria one would expect if democracy were a concern. While the administration allegedly supports the “democratic aspirations of all people,” it is clear that such aspirations are only operational if they do not interfere with “stability.” The administration’s public response to the Arab uprising is telling. In regard to Egypt, the regime had been given warnings by policy makers for well over a year that the “calm” was an illusion and that Egypt’s young population was disillusioned with the Mubarak regime.34 Exactly what the administration did with this information is unknown, but they were clearly taken by surprise when protests broke out. This must be placed within the context of the long US-Egyptian alliance, which has included the US sending billions of dollars to the Egyptian army. In June of 2009, during an interview with the BBC, Barack Obama was asked whether he thought Hosni Mubarak was an authoritarian ruler. His response is telling:
"No, I tend not to use labels for folks. I haven't met him. I've spoken to him on the phone. He has been a stalwart ally in many respects, to the United States. He has sustained peace with Israel, which is a very difficult thing to do in that region. But he has never resorted to, you know, unnecessary demagoging of the issue, and has tried to maintain that relationship. So I think he has been a force for stability. And good in the region. Obviously, there have been criticisms of the manner in which politics operates in Egypt."35
Unfortunately, the population did not think that this dictator was “good” although, in the imperial tongue, he was “a force for stability.” The administration’s response when the Egyptian protests broke out was muddled. In the end, the administration saw the writing on the wall and decided to throw its rhetorical weight behind the aspirations of the protestors. Unlike Bahrain, Egypt does not have a majority Shia population capable of aligning with Iran or threatening Saudi Arabian “stablity.” Further, the Egyptian army, which has been firmly ensconced in power since 1952, and the US have cooperated closely for decades. Therefore, lending rhetorical support to the uprising was a relatively costless move. Indeed, assuring Israel that their peace treaty would be honored was one of the first acts of the post-Mubarak ‘transitional’ regime. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman succinctly stated what Washington was certainly thinking, namely that Israel was not concerned with Egypt’s internal affairs, but only that “regional stability be preserved and the peace treaty respected.”36
From the beginning the administration has rhetorically and strategically supported the ailing Bahraini regime. The New York Times noted that the US was taking “two paths” in its response to protests in Iran and Bahrain. Speaking to Bahrain and other allies, Obama counseled, “you have a young, vibrant generation within the Middle East that is looking for greater opportunity; and that if you are governing these countries, you’ve got to get out ahead of change. You can’t be behind the curve.” Speaking to protestors, rather than the government, in Iran, Obama hoped they possessed “the courage to be able to express their yearning for greater freedoms and a more representative government.”37 Given the administration’s open disdain for Iran and the strategic importance of Bahrain, this tact is readily explicable. The Obama administration needs to avoid “instability” in the region, while lending enough rhetorical support to democratic movements so as to avoid being accused of blatant hypocrisy.38 This appears to be the diplomatic strategy Washington has settled on:
"After weeks of internal debate on how to respond to uprisings in the Arab world, the Obama administration is settling on a Middle East strategy: help keep longtime allies who are willing to reform in power, even if that means the full democratic demands of their newly emboldened citizens might have to wait."39
On February 20, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen traveled to Saudi Arabia to reassure the Kingdom and other Arab allies that the administration would provide security and remained an ally. On the 23 of February, both Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates gave full support to the Khalifa regime and encouraged what they called “a national dialogue” between the regime and the mostly Shia protestors. At this time, the idea was hatched that Bahrain would make reforms in return for full support from the White House. This was offered as the “Bahrain model,” and could be readily transposed to other beleaguered US allies in the region. According to the Wall Street Journal, the White House accepted and threw its full support behind King Khalifa on February 27 while a similar message was delivered to embattled Moroccan King Mohammed VI.40 The “Bahrain model” is not a model that emphasizes democracy and human rights: It is imperial rebranding, much like Obama himself, that is intended to perpetuate decades old policies under the guise of democracy, reform, and change. In short, there will be no regime change or democracy in Bahrain.
The Future of Bahrain
The future of Bahrain remains uncertain, while the Arab Revolt that has affected so many countries—including Oman, Tunisia, Iraq, Morocco, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt—shows no signs of abating. Washington is certainly watching with trepidation as calls for democracy and threats to regional “stability” spread. In recent days, the price of oil has topped 106 dollars a barrel, a 2-1/2 year high.41 The unrest and uncertainty gripping the Middle East has led analyst Michael T. Klare to declare that the world is permanently exiting the stage of cheap petroleum.42 Whether or not this is true remains to be seen. One should not underestimate the strength of forces pushing for maintenance of the status quo. The Bahraini government is trying to bribe protestors with offers of 2,600 dollars for every family and the Interior Ministry has recently announced that it is seeking 20,000 workers.43 In addition, the Gulf Cooperation Council is mulling a proposal for a “stability fund” to be awarded to Bahrain and Oman. It is estimated that Bahrain alone would receive 10 billion dollars.44 Thus far these efforts have failed to stymie protestors, whether in Bahrain or the larger region. As one Bahraini protestor put it, "We want America not to get involved, we can overthrow this regime. All we want is for America not to support the dictatorship in Bahrain."45 As US citizens we should seek to educate each other about Bahrain and the Middle East; we should hold seminars and educational sessions; we should write our representatives, urging that the US not participate in squelching any incipient democratic movements; and we should get busy organizing. This much is our responsibility.
[Ben Winegard is a graduate student studying evolutionary and developmental psychology at the University of Missouri. He has published peer-reviewed articles on sports fandom and female body dissatisfaction. He also has an interest in radical politics and activism. Ben can be reached at [email protected]]
[Cortne Jai Winegard has a Master’s Degree in community development and urban planning. She is active in the Columbia, Missouri area promoting simple living and biking. She does not own a motor vehicle and is proud of it. She is also interested in radical politics and activism. Cortne can be reach at [email protected]]
1. Unless otherwise noted, all basic information about Bahrain is taken from three sources:
The CIA World Factbook: Bahrain at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ba.html
BBC Country Profile: Bahrain at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/country_profiles/790690.stm
Al Jazeera Country Profile: Bahrain at http://english.aljazeera.net/news/2011/02/201121672113476490.html
2. United Nations Security Council Resolution 278. At http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/RESOLUTION/GEN/NR0/260/29/IMG/NR026029.pdf?OpenElement
3. Cable 09MANAMA91, Bahrain as “Iran’s Fourteenth Province.” At http://www.wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/02/09MANAMA91.html
4. F.H. Lawson. Countries at the Crossroads: Bahrain. A Freedom House Report at http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/ccr/country-7777-9.pdf
5. Pepe Escobar (February 18, 2011). All about Pearl roundabout. Asia Times at http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MB18Ak01.html
6. Husain Abdulla (October 15, 2008). Nabeel Rajab:Shia only holds 13% of the high official post in the country. Bahrain Center for Human Rights at http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2472
7. Nicholas Kristof (February 22, 2011). Is this Apartheid in Bahrain. New York Times at http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/is-this-apartheid-in-bahrain/
8. Finnian Cunningham (February 18, 2011). Bahrain: The Social Roots of Revolt Against Another US Ally. Global Research at http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23266
9. 2011 Index of Economic Freedom: Bahrain. The Heritage Foundation at http://www.heritage.org/index/country/bahrain
10. Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. New York: Oxford University Press.
11. Raymond Barrett (February 21, 2011). How a broken social contract sparked Bahrain protests. The Christian Science Monitor at http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0221/How-a-broken-social-contract-sparked-Bahrain-protests
12. Zara Al Sitari (September, 2006). “Al Bander-Gate”: A political scandal in Bahrain. Bahrain Center for Human Rights at http://www.bahrainrights.org/node/528
13. The Economist (April 3, 2008). Bahrain: Not so sunny for Shias. At http://www.economist.com/node/10979869
14. Bahrain Center for Human Rights (January 15, 2009). Bahrain: An oppressive campaign against Shia. At http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2720
15. Bahrain National Action Charter. Full text available at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/National_Action_Charter_of_Bahrain
16. Amnesty International (February 19, 2011). Appeal for action: Deaths and injuries in Bahrain. At http://amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE11/006/2011/en/160feeb1-9cb2-4c92-b906-022f53dc62fc/mde110062011en.pdf
17. Human Rights Watch (February 28, 2011). Bahrain: Hold perpetrators of crackdown accountable. At http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/02/28/bahrain-hold-perpetrators-crackdown-accountable
18. Janine Zacharia (February 19, 2011). Bahrain's king seeks dialogue after another crackdown on protesters. The Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/18/AR2011021807509.html
19. Noam Chomsky (February 4, 2011). It's not radical Islam that worries the US –it's independence. The Guardian at http://www.chomsky.info/articles/20110204.htm
20. Zunes, S. (2003). Tinderbox: U.S. foreign policy and the roots of terrorism. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press. Quote taken from page 11.
21. Mark Mazzetti (September 24, 2006). Spy agencies say Iraq War worsens terrorism threat. New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/24/world/middleeast/24terror.html
22. Noam Chomsky (1999) “Stability,” Excerpted from Fateful triangle at http://www.chomsky.info/books/fateful02.htm
23. Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. Fifth Fleet. Official Mission Statement at http://www.cusnc.navy.mil/mission/mission.html
24. Anees al-Qudaihi (March 24, 2009) Saudi Arabia’s Shia press for rights. BBC at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7959531.stm
25. The Economist (March 3, 2011). The royal house is rattled to. At http://www.economist.com/node/18291511?story_id=18291511&fsrc=rss
26. The Guardian (March 6, 2011). Saudi Arabia bans public protest. At http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/06/saudi-arabia-bans-public-protest
27. Mina Kines (February 24, 2011). America’s hottest export: Weapons. Fortune at http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/10/news/international/america_exports_weapons_full.fortune/index.htm
28. Kristen Chick (October 6, 2010). How arms deals are shaping the Mideast. The Christian Science Monitor at http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/1006/How-arms-deals-are-shaping-the-Mideast
29. Jeremy M. Sharp (June 15, 2010). U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends, and the FY2011 Request. Congressional Research Service at http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL32260.pdf
30. Adam Entous (February 23, 2011) U.S. reviews arms sales amid turmoil. Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704071304576160790785180556.html
31. The Guardian (February 15, 2011). US embassy cables: Bahrain’s relations with Iran. At http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/164906
32. Jason Ditz (February 18, 2011) The arsenal against democracy: US arms fuel Bahraini crackdown. Antiwar.com at http://news.antiwar.com/2011/02/18/the-arsenal-against-democracy-us-arms-fuel-bahraini-crackdown/
33. Peter Beaumont & Robert Booth (February 17, 2011). Bahrain uses UK-supplied weapons in protest crackdown. The Guardian at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/17/bahrain-crackdown-uk-arms-sales
34. Jay Solomon (February 16, 2011). U.S. had year of warnings over Egypt. Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703312904576146640487877536.html
35. Justin Webb (June 2, 2009). Obama interview: The transcript. BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2009/06/090602_obama_transcript.shtml
36. Barak Ravid & Reuters (February 12, 2011). Netanyahu: Egypt-Israel peace is cornerstone of Mideast stability. Haaretz at http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-egypt-israel-peace-is-cornerstone-of-mideast-stability-1.342947
37. Mark Landler & David E. Sanger (February 15, 2011). U.S. follows two paths on unrest in Iran and Bahrain. New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/world/middleeast/16diplomacy.html?_r=1&ref=global-home
38. Michael Slackman & Mark Landler (February 17, 2011). Bahrain turmoil poses fresh test for White House. New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/18/world/middleeast/18bahrain.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper
39. Adam Entous & Julian E. Barnes (March 5, 2011). U.S. wavers on ‘Regime Change’. Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703580004576180522653787198.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
40. See the reference 39 for an excellent discussion of the administration’s thinking and diplomacy.
41. Ben Rooney (March 7, 2011) Oil tops $106 a barrel. CNNMoney at http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/07/markets/oil/index.htm?iid=EL
42. Michael T. Klare (March 3, 2011). Oilquake in the Middle East: The Collapse of the Old Oil Order. TomDispatch at http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/03-7
43. Thomas Fuller (March 6, 2011). Bahrain’s promised spending fails to quell dissent. New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/world/middleeast/07bahrain.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
44. Simon Henderson (March 7, 2011). The battle for Bahrain. Washington Institute at http://www.thecuttingedgenews.com/index.php?article=32082&pageid=20&pagename=Security
45. Al Jazeera (March 7, 2011). Bahrain protests reach US embassy. At http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/20113714294453228.html