Entries in Bahrain (2)


International Crises Put President Obama in a Bind 

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the Arab world, calls for the United States to get more engaged are growing louder.  But domestically, it seems intervention fatigue is sinking in, as evidenced by record opposition to the war in Afghanistan.

The two forces combined pose a significant challenge for President Obama, who has maintained an active presence on the international front but without directly confronting the uprising.

While it's not the first time a U.S. president has been confronted with the double task of tackling a weak economy at home and turmoil abroad, Obama, from the outset of his presidency, laid out a hope-filled agenda on both fronts.

"I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect," Obama said in his famous speech in Cairo in 2009.

But many in the Arab world feel they are simply seeing more of the same U.S. policy.

In Libya, rebels fighting against the longtime dictatorship of Moammar Gadhafi are clamoring for U.S. help and intervention.  In Cairo, young pro-democracy leaders snubbed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and rejected an invitation to meet with her.  In Bahrain, which has been rocked by violent clashes, residents are calling for American help but are suspicious of the United States' close relationship with Saudi Arabia, which sent in troops to fight the opposition.

The White House insists it has acted with haste in all these events, but critics at home and abroad state the exact opposite, citing the Obama administration has yet to take any bold steps. The criticism comes at a time when some polls show little appetite in this country for additional U.S. intervention abroad.

There is broad concern that the U.S. military is overcommitted, and most Americans feel the United States does not have a responsibility to intervene in Libya, where calls for U.S. help have grown louder, according to a survey by The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

In the poll, conducted March 10 through 13, 63 percent say the United States does not have a responsibility to act in Libya, barely half favor increasing economic and diplomatic sanctions against Libya and only 44 percent are in favor of enforcing a no-fly zone.

Even opposition to the war in Afghanistan is at a record high.  Just 31 percent now say the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting, a new low; 64 percent call it not worth fighting and 49 percent feel that way "strongly," according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hillary Clinton, Administration Officials to Call Bahraini Counterparts

Photo Courtesy - Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior administration officials will be calling their Bahraini counterparts Thursday to urge restraint and to advise the U.S. ally on how best to proceed, ABC News has learned.

"The United States strongly opposes the use of violence in Bahrain," an administration official told ABC News.  "Wherever they are, people have certain universal rights -- including the right to peaceful assembly.  We continue to urge the government of Bahrain to show restraint in responding to peaceful protests."

On Wednesday, at least four people were killed and hundreds more injured after police swept through Pearl Square in Bahrain's capital of Manama to disperse protesters who were camped out.  Police came down on the demonstrators with rubber bullets, tear gas and billy clubs.

The protesters have occupied Pearl Square since early this week, demanding jobs, the release of political prisoners and constitutional reforms with hopes to end the monarchy that has ruled the island nation for 200 years.

Aside from being an ally, Bahrain is home to the 5th Fleet, a major U.S. Naval Base that shares a commander and headquarters with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, a component part of CENTCOM, and roughly 2,300 U.S. military personnel.  The base is essentially a port at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio