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US favors protecting long-term Mideast allies: report

President Barack Obama's administration is settling on a Middle East strategy that favors keeping longtime Arab allies who are willing to reform in power, The Wall Street Journal reported late Friday

AFP , Saturday 5 Mar 2011
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Citing unnamed officials and diplomats, the newspaper said the administration is leaning toward this approach even if that means the full democratic demands of Arab citizens might have to wait.

Instead of pushing for immediate change -- as it did in Egypt and now Libya -- the United States is urging protesters from Bahrain to Morocco to work with existing rulers toward what some officials and diplomats are now calling "regime alteration," the report said.

The moderate US approach has emerged after lobbying by Arab governments who were alarmed that Obama had abandoned Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, The Journal said.

The Arab rulers were worried that, if Washington did the same to the king of Bahrain, a chain of revolts could sweep them from power too, the paper noted.

A senior administration official acknowledged the past month has been a learning process for policy makers, the report said.

"What we have said throughout this is that there is a need for political, economic and social reform, but the particular approach will be country by country," The Journal quotes the unnamed official as saying.

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