Top US military officer ‘stunned’ by Arab revolts

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, February 20, 2011 20:23 EDT
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RIYADH (AFP) – Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday he was “stunned” by the spread of Arab protests as he arrived in Saudi Arabia on a Gulf tour to boost Washington’s ties with regional allies.

Mullen’s visit comes as an unprecedented wave of revolts challenges Arab authoritarian regimes, notably in Bahrain and Yemen, after uprisings toppled rulers in Tunisia and Egypt.

“It’s stunning to me that it’s moved so quickly,” America’s highest-ranking military officer said of the revolts.

“We’ve talked about the underlying issues for a long time, but it’s the speed with which this is happening,” he told reporters.

Mullen said the purpose of his mission is to “reassure, discuss and understand what is going on,” adding that the “trip was scheduled for other reasons but as it turns out the context has changed.”

“Part of what I want to accomplish is to reassure our friends and also just listen to what’s on their mind,” President Barack Obama’s senior military adviser said.

“I think the dominant issue of the day is going to be stability in the Middle East.”

Saudi neighbour Bahrain, which was rocked last week by deadly protests, will top the agenda of his talks with military officials during his two-day visit to the oil-rich, ultra-conservative kingdom.

Six people were officially reported killed in Bahrain last week, raising pressure on the Sunni Muslim ruling dynasty to talk with the Shiite-led opposition.

Bahrain’s opposition has called for a large protest on Tuesday to press the ruling family there to engage in negotiations for reform, as protesters camp out in the capital’s Pearl Square.

Mullen said it was “absolutely critical” that governments and their people resolve differences peacefully.

“We certainly would like to see whatever happens happen in a non-violent way,” he said. “That where there are differences, they be resolved non violently. And that governments and their people figure this out.”

The Sunni Saudi kingdom has expressed alarm at Iran’s nuclear programme and the Shiite Islamic republic’s growing influence in the Middle East, especially in Bahrain, Iraq and Lebanon which have sizeable Shiite communities.

Iran is expected also to be on the agenda of Mullen’s talks with Saudi officials, including with Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz.

Foreign ministers of the Gulf monarchies signalled support for Bahrain’s monarchy on Thursday in a joint statement, saying “our security is a collective responsibility and there is no question of accepting foreign interference.”

Bahrain is strategically vital to Washington as it hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which protects the Gulf’s maritime oil routes supplying US operations in Afghanistan.

Mullen is also expected to in Qatar on Monday before travelling to the United Arab Emirates and then on to Djibouti and Kuwait where protesters have also taken to the streets in recent days.

In Kuwait he will attend a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the end of the Gulf war and the liberation of the oil-rich emirate from Iraqi occupation.

Saudi Arabia is a long-standing US ally and key regional player in the war on terrorism, with Washington announcing in October a massive contract to supply Riyadh with fighter jets and helicopters.

Information that Saudi Arabia collects on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), operating out of Yemen — where protests have also raged for a week — has also become critical to alert Western governments to potential threats.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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  • enorceht

    “Admiral Mike Mullen, … said Sunday he was “stunned” by the spread of Arab protests …”

    and these are the people supposedly keeping us safe … maybe they better watch less faux news and more al jazeera

  • hourglass1

    from Leonard Cohen … one can only hope …


    It’s coming through a hole in the air, from those nights in Tiananmen Square.
    It’s coming from the feel that this ain’t exactly real,
    or it’s real, but it ain’t exactly there.
    From the wars against disorder, from the sirens night and day,
    from the fires of the homeless, from the ashes of the gay:
    Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

    It’s coming through a crack in the wall; on a visionary flood of alcohol;
    from the staggering account of the Sermon on the Mount
    which I don’t pretend to understand at all.
    It’s coming from the silence on the dock of the bay,
    from the brave, the bold, the battered heart of Chevrolet:
    Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

    It’s coming from the sorrow in the street, the holy places where the races meet;
    from the homicidal bitchin’ that goes down in every kitchen
    to determine who will serve and who will eat.
    From the wells of disappointment where the women kneel to pray
    for the grace of God in the desert here and the desert far away:
    Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

    Sail on, sail on
    O mighty Ship of State!
    To the Shores of Need
    Past the Reefs of Greed
    Through the Squalls of Hate
    Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

    It’s coming to America first, the cradle of the best and of the worst.
    It’s here they got the range and the machinery for change
    and it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.
    It’s here the family’s broken and it’s here the lonely say
    that the heart has got to open in a fundamental way:
    Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

    It’s coming from the women and the men. O baby, we’ll be making love again.
    We’ll be going down so deep the river’s going to weep,
    and the mountain’s going to shout Amen!
    It’s coming like the tidal flood beneath the lunar sway,
    imperial, mysterious, in amorous array:
    Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

    Sail on, sail on …

    I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean I love the country but I can’t stand the scene.
    And I’m neither left or right I’m just staying home tonight,
    getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
    But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags that Time cannot decay,
    I’m junk but I’m still holding up this little wild bouquet:
    Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

  • Guest

    Well, Mike, if you had been awake and paying attention to “The People” over there (Like here) instead of pandering to the elite….

  • Guest

    Love Leonard.

  • Anonymous

    Religion, division, incision. Sunni, Shiite,Christian, one is weak, one has might. Gods on your side motherfuckers, be sure you get it right.

  • Anonymous

    Hey, mullens, war mongers are the first on my short list to fire. Can you build levies, stop global warming, find ways to convert salt water to drinking water, etc.? If not, you will be in charge of removing the chinese made busts of our presidents at the Smithsonian Institution:

    Bernie Sanders criticizes the Smithsonian for selling Chinese-made busts of U.S. presidents


  • NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

    dancing puppets all require TLC from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

  • Anonymous

    “Admiral Mulllen was stunned by the spread of arab protests…” Well you better wake up…… BITCH….!!!!!

  • TheDevilCanDance

    Mike Mullen, is a condescending piece of white trash. Americans & to a larger extend,the Western world never learn anything, their feeling and conviction of being superior is what eventually brings their downfall. Whatever they like it or not, people`s self determination & desire for change is stronger than authoritarian regime and dictatorship. This is the end of Western hegemony on the “third world”.For these countries,the road ahead will probably be chaotic & difficult, but they are engage in a process that will change the nature of the world as we know it.

  • Taleisin

    America sends an admiral to help with peace? Why not just send Kissinger?

    ‘In Kuwait he will attend a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the end of the Gulf war.’
    No comment necessary.

  • Taleisin

    I am sure the intel he is learning over there, will be very important in ‘curbing’ revolts in USA when the time comes.

    Chinese-made busts of American presidents! That cracks me up. :O

  • David R Velasquez

    The arab princes are circling wagons, Mullin is there to assess the threat that direct democracy poses to the oiligarchy.

  • http://twitter.com/btmfdrsheaven rebecca meritt

    I just don’t have a clue!

  • Anonymous

    I love your work.