Yesterday in Riyadh to "attempt to thaw ice-cold relations between Saudi Arabia and the U.S.," for example, he offers this beauty in the 60 seconds or so that he spoke to the media:
"We already have evidence that the Iranians are trying to exploit the situation in Bahrain,” Mr. Gates said, repeating earlier assertions without providing details. “And we also have evidence that they are talking about what they can do to try and create problems elsewhere as well."So, now, not only does the U.S. have evidence that Iran is TRYING to exploit the situation in Bahrain, it also has more evidence that Iran is TALKING ABOUT what they CAN do to TRY and create problems elsewhere. In other words the U.S. believes that Iran may be talking about trying to think about things they might be able to do. That sounds dangerous.
A good translation for the quote into Gulf Arabic is--"Fine, King 'Abdallah, we agree with you [and Sa'ad Hariri] that Iran is interfering in everyone's affairs. Just please don't cancel that $80 billion arms deal we signed last year. You may notice that our economy is not doing so hot these days."
Now, no one will disagree that Iran and the Arab Gulf states are engaged in a regional struggle for power and influence. But it would be nice to be offered some hard evidence of Iranian "meddling," in Bahrain or elsewhere, that doesn't amount to pure speculation, or to the fact that al-Manar is offering pro-Shi'a coverage of the protests in Bahrain. By this logic, Bahrain and the GCC states are also "interfering" in the affairs of Iran, and the whole point becomes meaningless.
Anyway, I am traveling this weekend but hope to write a new article on employment in Bahrain that everyone should find interesting.