US Lawmaker: US Fleet Can Stay in Bahrain
A US lawmaker visiting Bahrain amid an 11-day uprising against the country's monarchy said Thursday that the US Fifth Fleet should remain headquartered there despite the unrest.
Asked whether he had any misgivings about the fleet's continued presence in Bahrain, a key ally of Washington in the Middle East, Republican Representative Joe Wilson replied: "No, none."
"I have faith in the people of Bahrain and I have faith in our military. This is crucial to world commerce and international security," Wilson told AFP in a telephone interview from the Gulf kingdom.
"It's vital to security of our country, it's vital to the free flow of oil, particularly to the far east, to Japan, which is so dependent on the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf, and of course that directly relates to the entire world economy," he said.
"The presence of the Fifth Fleet is crucial for the United States, but it has consequences for the entire world," said Wilson, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee who was making his fourth visit to Bahrain.
The lawmaker said he had met with US Navy personnel, as well as sailors from his home state of South Carolina, and Bahrain's defense minister in addition to US embassy staff, and said he had seen no evidence of the turmoil himself.
"We had been advised there would be demonstrations, pro-government possibly anti-government, but we've seen no evidence: The traffic is flowing freely, I was looking for no additional police and saw none, and certainly no military equipment," said Wilson.