US ‘committed to Gulf security’
Manama, December 9, 2012
Middle Eastern leaders are complaining about a lack of support from the US, a US senator told delegates at a major security summit in Bahrain, warning that such a perception empowered radical elements in the region.
"There is a perception here that the US is withdrawing from this part of the world and seeking to pivot instead to other priorities elsewhere," former US presidential candidate John McCain told delegates at the Manama Dialogue 2012, said a report in the Gulf Daily News.
"This is the perception I have detected here in the Gulf, where greater US support really is an existential matter with regional threats looming."
He added that was also the perception of civil society and opposition groups in Bahrain and warned this played into the hands of America's "enemies".
"This perception that the US is disinterested, disengaged or distracted can be very dangerous," he said.
"It could lead our enemies to test America's commitment to our friends and allies in this region through even more threatening actions. And it could bolster the more radical or hard-line elements among our friends, who say that they must take matters entirely into their own hands because America can't be trusted. None of us on this stage wants that to happen."
Senator McCain made his comments during a Manama Dialogue session on the US and the region at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa.
He also warned strife in countries emerging from the so-called Arab Spring could have a detrimental impact on the entire region, which he said was now at a crossroads that could lead to two vastly different futures.
"One of those futures is hopeful and positive," he said. "It could reflect all that is good, and inspiring, and promising about the Arab Spring.”
"It could be built on the overwhelming desire of millions and millions of people in this region, especially young people, for greater human rights, rule of law, opportunity and democracy.
"However, there is the other possibility of a future of gathering darkness, conflict and stagnation,” he added.
"In this scenario, the collapse of Syria into a failed state overrun by violent extremists of all sects and ethnicities could destabilise the entire region, re-igniting civil conflict in Iraq and Lebanon and threatening the survival of Jordan.
"Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, which continues to move forward despite sanctions and other disruptions, could finally be realised, setting off a nuclear arms race in this region,” Senator McCain said.
He said Egypt, in many ways the heart and soul of the Arab world, could be torn apart.
"In this world, the promise of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security would surely fade away and ultimately vanish altogether," he added.
However, Senator McCain stressed the US was committed to the region and had no plans to pull out - a sentiment echoed by US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.
"We share with the rest of the international community a profound concern about Iran's continuing refusal to meet its nuclear obligations and a profound commitment to intensifying economic and political pressure until it does - pressure which has already resulted in a 50 per cent drop in the value of Iran's currency and a similar drop in oil exports," he said.
He added Bahrain was a valued strategic partner and a long-time friend.
"Under the leadership of His Majesty King Hamad, Bahrain has begun to implement the recommendations of an independent commission of inquiry.
"There is still a long road ahead and I know it is not easy, but it is crucial to move decisively down that path without violence from any quarter.
"Long-term stability and enduring security depend upon the full participation of all citizens in political and economic life; the belief of all citizens that their peacefully expressed views are heard and respected; the conviction of all citizens that they share a stake in their country's future." – TradeArabia News Service
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