- Harvard student to face federal charges for bomb hoax
- Ronnie Biggs of ‘Great Train Robbery’ fame dies, 84
- Pope Francis wins another ‘Person of the Year’ — from gay rights magazine
- Rep. Steve Stockman: Give my campaign $10, and you’ll get an Obama barf bag
- Putin: Russia to buy $15 billion in Ukraine bonds
- Expert: Obamacare ‘death spiral’ fears exaggerated
- Alabama firefighters dig for survivors of apartment blast
- Big Sur wildfire destroys home of firefighting chief
- ‘ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas’ set for mock trial to argue authorship
- Angela Merkel’s third term as Germany’s chancellor to be marked by move to left
Bahrain’s opposition leader sees future without U.S. fleet
Confident democracies will take hold
“I believe that a democratic system inherently guarantees long-term stability and allows achieving cooperation between democracies,” said Ali Salman, secretary-general of the Wefaq National Islamic Society.
“If this region sees the emergence of a democratic order, I think there will be real stability in the medium- and long-term. There would be no need for any [foreign] forces to be present to guarantee the flow of oil.”
Bahrain, which has hosted the Navy’s 5th Fleet since the mid-1990s, has frustrated the Obama administration, which has sought to preserve its alliance with the Sunni royal family while supporting the democratic hopes of the mostly Shiite opposition that has taken to the streets since February.
On Wednesday, hundreds of demonstrators made their boldest attempt in months to reclaim control of a central square in the capital, Manama, which was the symbolic hub of the protest movement after it began, the Associated Press reported.
Riot police used buses to block roads and flooded streets with tear gas to drive back the marchers before dawn Thursday.
Bahraini officials have claimed that Mr. Salman and other Shiite opposition leaders have ties to the Iranian regime. Sunni politicians say that during a meeting in March, as a Saudi-led force prepared to enter Bahrain, Mr. Salman threatened to ask Iran to help the opposition. Wefaq leaders say the remark was taken out of context.
But he refrained from criticizing Iran directly or comparing its violent suppression of the protests that followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2009 re-election to the Bahraini government’s crackdown.
“I think the majority of Iranians accepted Ahmadinejad,” Mr. Salman said, adding that he prefers the “more open” policies of the Iranian president’s predecessor, Mohammad Khatami.
“The people of Iran, I think they choose an Islamic republic … I must respect the Iranian people’s [choice],” he said. “Any nation has the right to choose their system of government. …What we are seeking is a civil state that respects the norms of human rights.
“We believe it must be a democratic system where the people have the choice to refuse Al-Wefaq if Al-Wefaq is not successful enough,” Mr. Salman said. “If the people [choose] the communist party, I have to accept it.”
Wefaq, which has long held a plurality in Bahrain’s parliament, withdrew in March to protest the killing of demonstrators and the government’s refusal to meet its demands on democratic reform.
Mr. Salman denied that Bahrain, where thousands of Saudis flock daily to drink alcohol, would become more religiously restrictive if Wefaq gained power, saying “you cannot force the people to do anything.”
“This is not a problem for our thinking,” he said of Bahrainis’ freedom to drink. “We believe in Islam that the Muslim people must not drink. But if [someone] has not accepted this belief and he wants to drink, he will drink.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
- PRUDEN: The scam that will not die
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- Top Democrats reject court ruling over NSA spying on Americans
- Zadzooks: The Joker sixth scale figure review (Sideshow Collectibles)
- Embassy Row: India strikes back over diplomat's arrest
- Domino's launches its first vegan pizza
- Army to cut up to 4,000 captains and majors
- Minister: Iceland refused to help FBI on WikiLeaks
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
Wall Street news for retail investors who want to know what's going on.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow