Protesters Urge New US Policy Toward Bahrain

Bahraini’s living in the USA want to see some change they can believe in:

Hundreds of members of Bahrain’s Shiite majority protested outside the U.S. Embassy on Monday in a call for Washington to support their campaign for greater political freedom. The opposition supporters claimed during Monday’s protest that Washington is showing less support for the revolt in Bahrain than it did for the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that ousted the countries’ presidents. The protesters are staging daily marches in an effort to end what they say are royal family’s discriminatory policies and political persecution.

They have called for a constitutional monarchy and elected government in Bahrain – which hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, the main American military counterweight to Iranian forces. The Sunni minority has ruled Bahrain’s Shiite majority for 200 years and some of the protesters camped out in the capital’s Pearl Square are demanding that the Al Khalifa royal family step down altogether.

The presence of the 5th Fleet would seem to give the Obama administration considerable leverage here. But beyond considerations of leverage, if I were President I would be telling the al-Khalifas to give the King of Spain a call. Realistically, they’re not going to hold power forever. If they transition to a constitutional monarchy, then they have a good chance of continuing to reign for a very long time. If they insist on ruling, then opposition demands will necessarily escalate and history is on the side of the opposition.