The United States supported protesters rallying for democracy in Tunis, Sanaa and Benghazi. It engaged in war to come to the aid of opposition groups in North Africa. So why did America choose to remain silent on the protests in the Gulf?
In the second part of its documentary on the United States in the New Middle East, Al Jazeera's "Fault Lines" team traveled to Bahrain, a Sunni majority monarchy reigned by the Khalifa family; home to America's fifth fleet, which monitors Iran and is key in ensuring America's oil supplies.
"Fault Lines" finds that American policy in the Gulf States has remained fairly consistent over the years, as geopolitical calculations complicate U.S. abilities to politically manoeuvre the region. "The calculations of Bahrain are much more complex and difficult for us," Nicholas Burns, formerly connected to the U.S. state department, explains to Al-Jazeera. "Number one because our fleet is stationed there. Number two because Bahrain is of course important to Saudi Arabia -- one of our major partners in the Arab world. Number three because no one wants to see Iran -- which is a government we despise -- profit from the changes in the Arab world."
Securing the flow of oil also proved a major factor in American policy. "Stabilizing the oil markets has been a central tenet of U.S. policy for decades," Fault Line's Seb Walker narrates. "It often meant empowering dictators in oil producing countries at the expense of supporting democratic ideals."
Watch the full "Fault Lines" report here:
Watch Fault Lines here: