US backs Bahrain government’s efforts to defuse tension

March 13, 2011

The US embassy has reiterated its support to a comprehensive national dialogue as a way out of the crisis that has hit Bahrain.

Reacting to a demonstration held by protesters in front of its premises in Manama, the embassy said in a press statement that “Bahrain and the United States are partners in a deep-rooted and historical strategic partnership”, and that “the US is committed to its partnership with the government and people of Bahrain”.

“The US government supports the steps taken by the government to diffuse tensions, and commends the Crown Prince for pledging to undertake a comprehensive national dialogue. We urge all parties to work immediately to begin a dialogue that answers the legitimate aspirations of the Bahraini people. In order to be successful, the dialogue should include the full spectrum of Bahraini society,” the embassy said in the statement.

“Any dialogue must be a Bahraini process with ‘made-in-Bahrain’ solutions… For dialogue to succeed in Bahrain, it is difficult to define a set of outcomes or specific demands up front. The US Government believes that participation in comprehensive dialogue is the best way forward, and the results will require compromise and consensus,” the embassy said, adding that discussions on human rights are an integral component of our ongoing dialogue with the government.

Indian denial

Not far away, the embassy of India rejected a media report claiming that its government, in view of the protests in Bahrain, has “advised its nationals to consider sending their money home instead of parking it there”.

“No one has contacted me from the Indian Government nor have I issued any such statement to Indian expatriates in Bahrain,” Mohan Kumar, the ambassador, told a local daily.

Indian media reported this week that Kumar had conveyed the message to the representatives of the various Indian associations in Bahrain at a recent meeting.

The reports said “considering that many Indians have lost their money in strife-hit Libya, external affairs minister S.M. Krishna had told the envoy to advise Indian nationals on this issue”.

“It is an evolving situation though of late there in no flare-up. But, it is better to be safe. So the advice was given for their consideration,” an Indian government official was quoted as saying.

Bahrain is home to around 380,000 Indians, the largest community of expatriates.

Most of them come from South Indian states, mainly Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Around 18,000 Indians lived in Libya, but, according to officials, 12,000 have left the country to avoid the violence.

Traffic accident

On Monday evening, tensions intensified after a minor traffic accident in Manama sparked an ugly episode of allegations between Sunnis and Shiites on social networks that culminated in a huge mobilisation of people in Busaiteen, a neighbourhood on the island of Muharraq.

The incident, which took place slightly after 5pm, was between a woman driving a vehicle near the traffic lights adjacent to the Bahrain Financial Harbour and a group of protesters gathered in the area.

According to reports, the vehicle was surrounded by a large crowd following an apparent altercation between the driver and protesters.

The driver reportedly panicked, picked up speed as she pulled away through a pathway that emerged in the protesters and injured two individuals who were taken to hospital for treatment. Both were discharged later.

Protesters, however, charged that the driver had intentionally driven her car against some of the demonstrators.

In the ensuing online reporting, the car licence number was published, which led to the identification of the driver.

Hundreds of Sunnis in the evening gathered near the driver’s home to protect the household amid concerns she and her family could be attacked.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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