“White House to Host Bahrain Royal to Push Reform” (and save the Pentagon’s 5th fleet home port)

[Here, the Wall Street Journal gives us more on the maneuvering of the US to maintain its relations with the GCC, and its hold on Bahrain–not to mention its headquarters for the US 5th fleet.  While “democracy” and “humanitarianism” may not be on the US’ agenda in Bahrain (or in Saudi Arabia, for that matter), US imperialist lips are now dripping with the call for “reform” as a public-relations move to “stay in the game.” — Frontlines ed.]

Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa: the face of liberal reform in Bahrain? Or window-dressing for a brutal regime beyond reform?

Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2011

WASHINGTON—The White House will host Bahrain’s crown prince next week, according to senior U.S. officials, in a bid to push for political liberalization in the tiny Persian Gulf sheikdom.

The Obama administration views Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa as the senior Bahraini government official most in favor of liberalizing Manama’s political system, and hope the visit will lend support to his efforts to ease his government’s harsh response to the uprising. “We think the crown prince is a serious interlocutor, and we see value in engaging with him directly,” said a senior administration official.

Of the half-dozen uprisings that have swept the Middle East and North Africa this year, Bahrain’s has proved to be one of the hardest for U.S. diplomats to navigate. The Khalifa family has been a close U.S. ally in combating terrorism and Iran’s nuclear program. And Bahrain is home of the Pentagon’s 5th Fleet, which polices the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

The island-state has emerged as a key proxy battle between Washington and its allies and Iran, which has urged on Bahrain’s uprising through broadcasts and official comments.

U.S. officials have been alarmed by the scale of the Bahraini government’s repression of its opponents, who hail mostly from the country’s 70% Shiite-Muslim majority. Continue reading