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US Offers Donuts, Not Democracy to Bahraini Activists

Several days ago:

An Obama administration official said the White House has articulated the “same values” in all of the countries caught up in the unrest by calling for rights for demonstrators and “meaningful” reforms. “Our core principles are the same—nonviolence, universal rights and meaningful reform,” the official said. “How to get from here to there is determined by the actions of the people in the various countries.”

But it seems that those core principles aren’t so important when the regime being reformed houses the Fifth Fleet and has Saudi neighbors, themselves afraid of potential protests, lobbying the White House according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Saudis are afraid the Shia in their own country may join the calls for democracy – and Robert Fisk mentions that they have apparently told the Bahraini monarchy to keep their protesters in line or the Saudis will come and do it for them.

Provoked by the Shia majority uprising in the neighbouring Sunni-dominated island of Bahrain, where protesters are calling for the overthrow of the ruling al-Khalifa family, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is widely reported to have told the Bahraini authorities that if they do not crush their Shia revolt, his own forces will.

It’s been three weeks now since Bahraini activists began their peaceful protests calling for democratic reforms. Their demands grew after the King’s security forces shot and killed seven protesters .

Bahrain’s anti-government camp is calling for a genuine constitutional democracy in which “the royal family is no longer a ruling family, but just a royal family”, says Ibrahim Sharif, leader of the secular-liberal Wa’ad party and the most prominent Sunni member of the opposition.

The protesters are requesting a new prime minister who is popularly elected and a bicameral parliament – with newly enhanced powers – that is fully elected. Currently, the upper house of parliament is selected by the king and dominates the lower house, elected by the people as per the 2002 constitution.

Monday, protesters took their message to the US Embassy with the very simple message seen in the photo above.

… Zeinab al-Khawaja, a protest organiser, told Al Jazeera that the US needed to keep its distance from events in Bahrain.

“We want America not to get involved, we can overthrow this regime,” she said. “All we want is for America not to support the dictatorship in Bahrain.”

Washington’s response was to send someone out with a box of donuts.

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Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

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