The president's speech Wednesday was a step back from a human rights based approach towards the Middle East. His words will not contribute to the long-term peace, stability, and progress of which he spoke, nor will it advance America's interests in the region or around the world.
Taken at face value, a rare acknowledgment by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach that sports and politics are inextricably intertwined should be a first step towards radical reform that offers a proper structure to govern the relationship.
For now it looks as though increased domestic oil and gas production has saved the recovery. Were it not for this impressive rise in output, the current mess in Iraq and Syria would likely have driven global oil prices up to $130-140 a barrel.
Since FIFA picked Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, the tiny and uber-rich Gulf emirate has increasingly come under scrutiny for its failure to protect the human rights of its burgeoning foreign workforce.
Today Zainab told me what it's like in Isa Town Detention facility for women. Zainab knows, having spent most of last year in either the detention center or the prison there after being sentenced for peacefully protesting.
Imagine for a moment that anytime you intend to go back to your country of origin, you must prepare a statement, inform human rights organizations, and confront the uncertainty of either being denied entry, arrested or deported. For Bahraini human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja, imagination is not necessary -- this is her reality.
If Bahrain is ever to become stable, it will eventually have to move beyond its current unrest and find a solution to its political crisis. It needs the leadership of experienced, peaceful civil society figures like Abdulhadi to figure out a meaningful reform process.
Consider the cases of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Bahrain. They are not democracies by any meaningful definition of the term; they are all committing grave violations of human rights; and yet we are not seeking to overthrow their governments.
Clearly, Ferguson is not Gaza, or Bahrain, or Egypt. As many activists in those countries would note, the situations are simply not in the same category in terms of scale, severity, or political context. But no one should be satisfied merely with the fact that there is less tear gas and deadly police violence in the United States than in authoritarian countries.
The world is aflame. Religious minorities are among those who suffer most from increasing conflict. Pakistan is one of the worst homes for non-Muslims. The U.S. government should designate that nation as a "Country of Particular Concern" for failing to protect religious liberty, the most basic right of conscience.
By glorifying the world's worst human rights offenders and endorsing them to host public displays for an international audience, we help countries like Qatar keep the profitable business of slave-keeping alive.
Today's State Department report on international religious freedom for 2013 is unlikely to heal the increasing rift between the U.S. government and Bahrain.
A recent tactical shift in Ayatollah Khamenei's policies indicate that he has increasingly become less powerful or "Supreme" as the mainstream media reveals or as his title indicates.
Washington needs to take a hard look at why it continues to arm and train Bahrain's military, and whether it's finally time to fundamentally change its relationship with the country's ruling family.
Bahrain finds itself in an increasingly untenable position. If it misplays its hand, or events in the region outpace the government's ability to manage domestic politics, the Bahraini government could find itself facing a dire crisis in the near future.
The difference between Protestantism and Catholicism is not much, at least to an outside observer, just as the gap between Shia and Sunni Islam does not appear that wide. But to many within, the gulfs are wide and unbridgeable, oftentimes enough to spark internecine wars.