Bahrainis continue to be brutalized because of west’s hypocrisy
On Tuesday, February 14, forces of the Bahrain’s repressive minority regime assisted by the Saudi occupation troops, fanned out across the Persian Gulf island state in unprecedented numbers as the people marked the first anniversary of their popular uprising that is being brutally suppressed, because of the West’s hypocrisy in turning a blind eye to calls for democracy and respect for human rights. The troops including mercenaries hired from Pakistan fired tear gas shells, rubber bullets, and batons to prevent the peaceful demonstrators from converging on the symbol of their uprising, the now destroyed Pearl Square in Manama.
The Bahraini regime has threatened a new crackdown on the largest opposition party, al-Wefaq that represents the country oppressed majority, and whose members resigned from the parliament in protest last year to the brutalities of the US-backed regime. So far at least 40 people have been martyred during a year of unprecedented protests in Bahrain where the US Fifth Fleet is based. On last Monday night as well the regime used violence against the peaceful protestors. Analysts have decried the double standards of the West regarding Bahrain, at a time when the US and its Arab and European allies are sparing no efforts to stir up violence and civil war in Syria in a bid to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad for the simple reason that he refused to follow the dictates of Washington and supports the struggle against the illegal Zionist entity Israel.
As American analyst Pepe Escobar notes in the Asian Times, the US by providing arms to the repressive Aal-e Khalifa regime wants it to stay in power against the wishes of the vast majority of the Bahraini people. He says the President Barack Obama tells Syria's President Bashar al-Assad to step aside and allow what he calls a democratic transition to proceed immediately, while Sheikh Hamad Aal-e Khalifa gets new toys to crack down on his subversively pro-democratic Bahrainis.
A year ago, the overwhelming population of Bahrain - most of them poor, neglected Shi'ites treated as third-class citizens, but also educated Sunnis - hit the streets to demand the ruling regime allow a minimum of democracy. Just like Tunisia and Egypt - and unlike Libya and Syria - the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain was indigenous, legitimate, non-violent and uncontaminated by Western or Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) infiltration.
The response was a major crackdown plus a Saudi Arabian invasion over the causeway to Manama. That was the tacit result of a deal struck between the House of Saud and Washington; we give you an Arab resolution allowing you to go to the UN and then launch the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's humanitarian bombing on Libya, you leave us alone to smash this Arab Spring nonsense. The Obama regime took no time to preempt the "celebration" of Bahrain's crushed democracy push by dispatching a State Department honcho to Bahrain.
As reported by the Persian Gulf Daily News, the so-called "Voice of Bahrain" (more like the voice of the Aal-e Khalifas), US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman widely praised King Hamad's steps to what he called "diffuse tensions" - such as "the release of political prisoners, a partial cabinet reshuffle and the withdrawal of security forces". Feltman's briefers must have been catatonic, because political prisoners remain in jail, the cabinet reshuffle is cosmetic and security forces are in overdrive repression mode. Feltman said Washington stressed "national dialogue", "made-in-Bahrain" solutions, and no foreign states "interfering in the process". Should Bahrainis follow the NATOGCC model as applied to Syria? He also said, "Bahrainis can count on US support to back a Bahraini consensus on the way forward".
The reality is that with friends like these, the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain hardly needs enemies. So that's Washington's message in a nutshell; make these people stop that noise and we keep our base here to defend you and your cousins from the unwashed masses. Real life in Bahrain is something completely different. What US corporate media calls a "tense emirate" is still under a de facto martial law. Those "released" pro-democracy protesters - hundreds of them - remain in jail. Human Rights Watch, to its credit, but still relying on understatement, says, there has been little accountability for torture and killings.
Anticipating further crackdowns related to the first anniversary of the uprising, the Health Ministry ordered private hospitals to list to the security apparatus every single injured and wounded person; hundreds of doctors and nurses accused of treating injured protesters have been arrested over the past few months. The army barbed wired all areas near the Pearl roundabout - where the Pearl monument was razed, the ultimate graphic metaphor of democracy smashed. Mrs. Ayat al-Qormozi was jailed because she read out a poem criticizing King Hamad at the Pearl roundabout.
Last November, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry charged the Aal-e Khalifas with using "excessive force, including the extraction of forced confessions against detainees". Late January, Amnesty International called them to "investigate and account for the reports of more than a dozen deaths following tear gas use" and called Washington to "suspend transfers of tear gas and other riot control equipment to the Bahraini authorities". Saudi-backed Bahraini forces relies heavily on Pakistani riot policemen – or more properly mercenaries – not to mention made in USA tear gas and stun grenades to disperse every single peaceful anti-government protest. Scores of senior citizens and kids have died from asphyxia after regime troops fired tear gas in residential areas and even into homes. The Saudi-backed repression even hit peaceful mourners who were attending funeral processions of protesters killed by the Aal-e Khalifa security apparatus.
Yet even with the non-stop crackdown, demonstrations demanding the al-Khalifas to go happen almost daily. This was never an initial demand of the pro-democracy movement; it became one after the Saudi invasion. And to prove for good that we're living in a fool’s paradise, check the recent interview of the Bahraini ruler, Sheikh Hamad published by German weekly Der Spiegel, in which he asked the forces of the 6-nation Persian Gulf Cooperation Council to invade his country in March 2011 to protect Bahrain's "strategic installations" – from what he alleged Iran’s aggressiveness.
The Islamic Republic of Iran had absolutely nothing to do with the protests - caused by a minority regime that treats the absolute majority of its indigenous subjects like third class citizens. Moreover, Bahrain's tyrannical ruler has the nerves to say in his interview with Der Spiegel that President Assad of Syria should listen to his people and step down. When the Arab Spring hit Bahrain last year on February 14, 2011, the repressive monarchy met pro-democracy protestors with a brutal crackdown.
One year later, democracy protestors are still being attacked and prosecuted for calling for an elected government. Where is US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who feverishly calls for Assad’s exit? Why she doesn’t open her eyes to the far more repressive situation in Bahrain and call on the Aal-e Khalifa minority regime to leave the island state.
The United States has been inconsistent in supporting the fight for democracy in the Middle East, falling short in condemning human rights abuses in Bahrain. The Obama Administration is also moving to supply Bahrain with military equipment. Contrast this indifference and hypocrisy of the US and the West with the peaceful call of Iran to respect the rights of the people.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, in separate messages to heads of regional and international organizations, on Wednesday warned against outcomes of foreign military interventions against Bahraini civilians. Salehi sent messages to chiefs of the United Nations, UN Security Council, Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, European Union Foreign Affairs office, Arab League and Non-Aligned Movement. In his messages, Salehi expressed concern over the heart-rendering situation of the Bahraini people because of the ongoing suppression in their country. He also warned against severe adverse outcomes of foreign military interventions in the country and stressed the responsibility of Bahrain’s government and the intervening countries.
He also condemned the violent crackdown of the peaceful movement of the Muslim nation of Bahrain which is taking place to restore their legitimate civil rights and protest against discriminatory policies and human rights violations. Salehi also said that the continuation of suppression in Bahrain will not only violate the basic rights of the Bahraini nation but threaten peace and stability in the region.
It should be recalled that exactly a year ago, two Muslim countries – Bahrain and Libya – went into “Arab-Spring” mode. Revolt in Bahrain, a country aligned with Western interests, began February 14, 2011. The next day, a revolt followed by war and invasion was unleashed on Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, a sovereign country not aligned with foreign interests. The question here is: Why were Libya and its leadership so utterly overrun, bombed and murdered by the Western powers using the deceitful UN Resolution 1973 and NATO forces, while Bahrain was meted out soft treatment based on Western understanding, patience and goodwill? First and foremost, both Bahrain and Libya literally float on OIL. Naturally, the UK, US and French governments – and the boys financing them at Exxon Mobil, Texaco, BP, Shell, Total, ENI, Elf, Chevron – will swear time and again that oil has nothing to do with all of this.
This is nothing but sheer lies. Run by an unelected Sheikh, who since a few years likes to call himself king, Hamad bin Isa Aal-e Khalifa – and his uncle, Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman immediately cracked down on protesters with tremendous violence. So much so, that a month later in March Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates sent in troops to crush the people so the US could smile again. More torture and more bloodletting followed. Somehow, these human rights abuses never seem to bother the American, British, and French administrations. They mean to say: Dear Aal-e Khalifas: take your time, clobber as many protesters as you need, get your act right, and please make sure our fleet is safe and sound and happy.
Contrary to Bahrain, which houses US Naval forces; or Egypt, which is aligned to Israeli geopolitical interests; or Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE, which are playing fields for Western oil companies, Assad’s Syria cared for the Syrian people, and run a central bank totally independent of the US Fed, Goldman Sachs, European Central Bank, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC…In other words, Syria is a sovereign country.
Indeed quite embarrassing for the US, UK and Israel, particularly now that al-Qaeda is joining forces with the so-called Syrian “freedom fighters.” One can almost see them fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with John McCain and Joe Lieberman, who recently called for the US to “arm Syrian rebels.” Funny world, isn’t it? All these violent revolts, bombs, civil wars, invasions and murders done in the name of “democracy” and “freedom,” where the Western Powers and their media tell us in glittering lights who are the “good guys” and who the “bad guys” …but, are the Arab people better off today than a year ago? Are Bahrainis and Egyptians happier today? Are Libyans, Syrians, and Yemenis better off today? Did the “Arab Spring” reach Palestine? Is there more peace, sovereignty and true democracy in the region?