Protesters breach U.S. Embassy in Bahrain

Iran's top leader urges suspension of oil exports


AMMAN, Jordan - Protesters breached the walls of the U.S. Embassy in the tiny Persian Gulf island kingdom of Bahrain yesterday, smashing windows and burning vehicles before retreating under a hail of tear gas and rubber bullets shot by police officers aided by U.S. Marines.

About 2,000 to 3,000 protesters gathered outside the embassy walls in Manama and started throwing stones yesterday, said Eliza Koch, a State Department spokeswoman.

About 20 protesters managed to get over the walls, smashing windows and burning two or three vehicles before being forced out, she said. The embassy was closed yesterday, the Muslim day of prayer, and is also closed Saturdays.

The Marines assigned to guard the embassy were forced to use tear gas, after which the crowd largely dispersed, said a State Department official. Local reports said that police fired repeated rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets to keep the protesters from regrouping and again charging into the smoke-filled compound.

Protests occurred across the Muslim world yesterday, but the demonstration in Manama was the fiercest. It appears to have been fueled by local anger after the U.S. ambassador, Ronald Neumann, attended a model United Nations program at a school this week.

A student asked the assembly to stand to observe a moment of silence for the Palestinians, the State Department said. At the end of the moment, Neumann suggested that they remain standing for the Israeli victims of suicide bombings.

An abridged account of the incident, making it appear that the ambassador was paying respect only to the Israelis, ricocheted across the region.

The episode was viewed as emblematic of the United States' pursuing a biased, one-sided approach to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The moderate governments have been able to navigate the roiling waters between the mood on their streets and their relationship with Washington. But all of them are hoping desperately that President Bush's commitment to increased involvement will bring a measure of relief.

Jordan's prime minister, Ali Abu al-Ragheb, noting that his country had experienced about 200 demonstrations in the past week, warned that protests ending in chaos could harm the country.

"We are confident that our interior situation is stable and that our people are aware that Jordan's stability is important," he said in an interview on Jordanian television. "A strong Jordan is more capable of supporting its brothers in Palestine."

American officials said the growing intensity of protests helped prompt Bush to announce a new plan to try to forge a cease-fire.

Despite attempts by governments to ban or at least limit such marches, there were protests yesterday in Cairo, Egypt; Beirut, Lebanon; Amman, Jordan; Tunis, Tunisia; and Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, in Tehran yesterday, Iran's supreme leader urged Islamic oil-producing countries to suspend their oil exports for a month to countries supporting Israel as a means of exerting leverage with these countries over their position in the conflict.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme religious leader, made his statement as he led prayers before a rally supporting the Palestinians.

"The United States has used wheat and food as a weapon," Khamenei said to a crowd chanting, "Death to Israel and America!" "If Islamic and Arab countries do the same and only for one month suspend the export of oil to Israel and its supporters, the world would be shaken.

"The oil belongs to the people and can be used as a weapon against the West and those who support the savage regime of Israel."

Iraq was the first among the oil producers to propose, at the Arab summit meeting in Beirut, Lebanon, a week ago, that Islamic countries stop their oil exports to put pressure on Israel. But Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, rejected the proposal. Iran is the second-largest OPEC oil producer, but because of the American sanctions against Iran, the United States does not buy Iran's oil.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.