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Bahrain

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, tonight I wish to call the attention of my colleagues to the situation in Bahrain. Since gained independence from the British in the 1970's, Bahrain has forged close links with the United States, and become one of our most important allies in the strategically important Persian Gulf region. In fact, Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Since last year, however, the country has been disrupted by a series of anti-government demonstrations. Understanding how important our relationship with Bahrain is, especially to our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, I recently traveled to Bahrain to assess the situation first-hand. And I would like to thank Dr. Al Khalafalla and the Bahrain American Council for helping to make my visit a success.

I think it's important that we get the proper perspective on what's going on over there. There is no question there have been problems in the past. There has been overreaction by the police in certain instances in the past year, year and a half. As a result, there were people who were hurt severely when they were demonstrating in the streets of Bahrain. But the King and the Crown Prince have worked very hard to solve this problem. As a matter of fact, the King appointed an outside commission, and the commission's report and reform recommendations are strongly supported by both sides of the dispute. Yet, the parties involved seem to be having difficulty approaching the conference table.
Why?

One of the problems they have over there is the Iranian Government is working to try to undermine many of the countries in the Persian Gulf, and Bahrain is one of them. Some have suggested that the demonstrations have been infiltrated by outside radical elements--supported by Iran--dedicated to destabilizing and undermining the Bahrain Government. The evidence is inconclusive but the possibility of Iran doing just that is plausible. Whatever the reasons, for the demonstrators, this conflict is not going to be resolved in Bahrain, it must be resolved through negotiation.

I am submitting an article from the May 1, 2012 edition of the New York Times for the Record which I believe lays out the case for the United States to actively encourage both sides to to take a step back, take a deep breath, and commit to resolving their differences around the conference table. I strongly urge my colleagues to read these articles. [From the New York Times, May 1, 2012]

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