News / Middle East

US Defense Secretary in Bahrain to Discuss Reforms

Anti-government protesters demonstrate, March 11, 2011, in Riffa, Bahrain, where a riot police barricade prevented tens of thousands of demonstrators from marching to the royal court
Anti-government protesters demonstrate, March 11, 2011, in Riffa, Bahrain, where a riot police barricade prevented tens of thousands of demonstrators from marching to the royal court

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has traveled to Bahrain for talks with the kingdom's leaders about calls for reforms in Bahrain and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Gates flew into the capital, Manama, on Friday after attending a NATO meeting in Brussels.  Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell says the defense secretary will use the previously unannounced visit to Bahrain to express U.S. support for the Sunni monarch but also encourage national dialogue to address concerns raised by the kingdom's Shi'ite majority.

Shi'ites have staged a series of anti-government protests.  

On Friday, Bahraini police fired tear gas at thousands of mostly Shi'ite demonstrators who marched toward a royal complex near the capital, Manama.  

Earlier, law enforcement officers had blocked off the complex in an effort to keep the anti-government protesters from clashing with armed supporters of the Sunni-led government.  Government loyalists carrying swords, clubs and sticks had gathered near the royal palace.

Demonstrators on both sides threw rocks at police, who responded with tear gas.

Shi'ite-led opposition groups have been protesting against the government for weeks.  The Shi'ite majority has long complained of being denied opportunities and services by the ruling Sunni monarchy.

Some of the opponents say the government has also given better opportunities to Sunnis from other countries who have been naturalized in Bahrain.  On Wednesday, thousands of protesting Bahrainis called for a revision of the country's naturalization policies.

Meanwhile, a senior defense official traveling with Gates says the defense secretary will tell Bahraini leaders the "best path toward stability" is to "get out ahead of calls for reform."  

The official called Bahrain a "very important strategic partner."  The kingdom hosts the U.S. Navy's fifth fleet, which supports operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid