As Libya intervention is seemingly turning into Obama’s Iraq in Meghan L. O’ Sullivan’s opinion, the U.S. inconsistent policies in the Middle East are creating tension between what America supports and what it prefers. It has been an Achilles heel for different U.S. administrations including Obama’s to reconcile their embrace of authoritarianism with democracy. Current Arab spring in vogue since the beginning of 2011 has bitterly exposed United States’ hypocrisy and double standards.
Both frontrunners among Arabs in political transformation wave, Tunisia and Egypt were ruled by autocrats for more than three decades. However, America did not feel any moral pressure to force them to grant political space to their population. It decided only hesitantly to support mass protests in those countries after being confirmed that the tyrants will not survive the popular uprising. When people’s revolt against former presidents Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak became irresistible, Obama was forced to sacrifice U.S. support for them.
American vacillation whether to support ongoing Arab transformation is more visible in Bahrain where peaceful demonstrators have been supposedly killed by using the military hardware provided by the U.S. Bahrain receives annual military aid from the U.S. in the range of $18 million. Mockery of humanitarian interventionists, who appear to exercise heavy influence on president Obama in forcing him to militarily intervene in Libya, is found in Bahrain where troops from U.A. E. and Saudi Arabia were dispatched to crush peaceful protests on March 15. Not surprisingly, Saudi rulers have violently silenced recent political demonstration to preserve their privileges.
There are even rumors that American acquiescence to Saudi intervention in Bahrain is connected to Saudi Arabia’s support for U.S. military action in Libya. It is very hard to ignore such news and refute the charges of hypocrisy against the U.S. until it pursues consistent policies.
Bahrain occupies a special geographic location capitalizing on which America has been patrolling the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, the western part of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf through its Fifth Fleet of Navy based in Juffair, a suburb of capital Manama. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is conspicuous by its composition of 30 warships and about 30000 sailors. There is no doubt that with this naval base America has been able to ensure the uninterrupted flow of oil as it can conduct anti-piracy activities in world’s vital sea lanes effectively. Additionally, the base allows the U.S. to contain Iranian regional influence, which has been on the rise in the wake of Iraq war and also its clandestine pursuit of nuclear weapons.
In light of the above reality it is obvious that America will be less inclined to push for democracy in Bahrain that may topple its loyal rulers on whose unquestionable support it has been projecting its naval superiority that serves its strategic interests. This is another example that substantiates the notion that moral principles sit awkwardly with country’s self interests and are frequently sacrificed.