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As 5th Fleet commander, I also had the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s leader, as well as many senior officials in his government.

King Hamad is a true friend to the United States and its allies. He is dedicated to continuing Bahrain’s support for us even as his country and the region as a whole are going through a period of rapid change and tremendous uncertainty.

The Arab Spring has put a new spotlight on the longstanding need for reform in the region, and Bahrain has been no exception.

While America must always support the values that our nation was founded upon, we also need to balance that with the defense of our security interests and our responsibility to allies who have stood by us through the years.

For that reason, President Obama’s administration has been right to resist the calls made by some individuals to remove our support from Bahrain’s government and embrace a protest movement that has legitimate grievances, but is nonetheless being used by Iran for its own nefarious purposes. Indeed Iran and its allies would be the only winners should the United States abandon our partnership with Bahrain at such a critical juncture in the history of the Middle East.

I know that King Hamad is committed to reforms that will bring greater democracy to Bahrain, and I hope the United States will do all it can to support him in these efforts.

I also know that the United States and its allies need Bahrain now more than ever to preserve regional peace and stability in what remains a dangerous and uncertain world.

Vice Adm. Charles W. Moore (retired) was commander of the U.S. 5th Fleet from 1998 to 2002. He is currently regional president, Middle East and Africa, for Lockheed Martin.