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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bahrain official warns U.S. on pullout

The Washinton Times

The U.S.-led war in Iraq has damaged America's image in the Arab Middle East, but a premature withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq would make the situation worse, Bahrain's information minister, Muhammad Abdul Ghaffar, said yesterday.

"We all know the situation is not easy, but militarily speaking it is not wise now simply to withdraw from Iraq," Mr. Abdul Ghaffar said during a luncheon with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

He acknowledged growing questions over the U.S. commitment in Iraq after the Democratic takeover of Congress in November, but said Iraq's various factions and ethnic groups still need time to create a workable national government.

"There is still much work to do on real national reconciliation, and without reconciliation we will not have a stable Iraq," he added.

Bahrain is considered a moderate Arab state and is the longtime base for the U.S. 5th Fleet in the region. Mr. Abdul Ghaffar said bilateral relations are strong.

But he expressed concerns about the growing tension between Iran and the United States on several fronts, including the conflict in Iraq and charges that Tehran is secretly trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

Bahrain, a Shi'ite-majority country with a largely Sunni Muslim ruling class, has long been wary of Shi'ite Iran's regional ambitions. But Mr. Abdul Ghaffar said Bahrain strongly favored diplomacy over a military clash. More....


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