Thanks to a violent crackdown and an assist from Saudi troops, the government of Bahrain has just about silenced the protest movement—and that’s left the US facing some hard questions. Even as it fights to free Libya, the Obama administration has done next to nothing to help Bahrain’s protesters, the Washington Post observes. The administration has called for government restraint, but it hasn’t even hinted at sanctions, or even pulled its ambassador from Manama.
“Even though the American administration’s words are all about freedom and democracy and change, in Bahrain, the reality is that they’re basically a protection for the dictatorship,” said one Bahraini human rights activist. Privately, US officials admit they tread lightly in Bahrain for fear of straining relations with Saudi Arabia. Bahrain’s Shiites have paid the price. “Before, we were talking about change,” one opposition blogger tells the LA Times. “Now, we just want the bleeding to stop.”