March 14, 2011 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Over the past few days a relatively small Gulf State military force, led by Saudi Arabia has entered Bahrain, intending to quell the increasing unrest in the country primarily led by its Shia majority. The force is apparently there with the blessing of Bahrain's ruling monarchy.
So far the WH has been mum on the troop movement.
The latest out of the State Dept. was a formulaic statement issued by the now departed P.J. Crowley, "The United States is very concerned by recent violence surrounding protests in Bahrain. We have received confirmation that two protesters in Bahrain were recently killed, and offer our condolences to the families and friends of the two individuals who lost their lives. The United States welcomes the Government of Bahrain's statements that it will investigate these deaths, and that it will take legal action against any unjustified use of force by Bahraini security forces. We urge that it follow through on these statements as quickly as possible. We also call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence." [source, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/02/156626.htm]
Bahrain occupies a strategic location in the Middle East, lying just off the East coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf.
To its East is Iran, less than 400 km away.
More importantly, Manama, Bahrain [its capital, with a population of less than 200,000] is the home of the United States Fifth Fleet, more properly The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command U.S. Fifth Fleet Combined Maritime Forces, which has maintained a presence [though not of the current dimensions] in the country since 1949, when it was still under British control.
In 2010 the Navy started an ambitious half-billion dollar program to double the size of the installation. The project is slated for completion in 2013.
The Fifth Fleet has a substantial ability to project force. Last year CentCom established a policy whereby 2 aircraft carrier strike groups be maintained within the fleet, at least 9 months out of the year [see, Navy Times, http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/03/navy-2-carrier-requirement-for5th- fleet_030111w/]. Currently on duty are the Enterprise and Carl Vinson carrier strike groups.
The following is purely conjecture, but with this level of national commitment to the tiny but strategically located nation, it defies logic that the WH and the defense establishment would not be in full, if only privately expressed, support for the limited Saudi/Gulf force presence in the country.
Given Iran's constant threats and saber rattling, it's very difficult to believe that the U.S. isn't doing everything in its power to prevent Iran from wielding any more influence in the country via Bahrain's Shia majority which are ethnically of Persian, not Arabic descent.
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