WHO has heard anything concrete
about the protests in Bahrain? Very few people, no
doubt. Not because it is a small country, but
because in the contemporary world, what doesn’t
appear in the media virtually does not exist. The
same media which is exacerbating what is occurring
in Syria is silent when it comes to passing judgment
on allies of the United States. In this case, the
ally being the monarchy of King Al Khalifa.
If there is any reference to the
conflict in Bahrain in the media, it is reduced to a
confrontation between Shiites and Sunnis. Although
70% of the country’s inhabitants are Shiite and the
other 30% Sunni – the branch of Islam professed by
the ruling dynasty – the essence of the protest in
this country is neither sectarian nor religious.
For more than 12 months, the
demonstrations in Bahrain have focused on demands
linked to work, fighting poverty and social
improvements. The perspective is a secular and
peaceful one. "Not Shiites or Sunnis, but
Bahrainis," is the central slogan.
The reaction of authorities has been
one of brutal repression. February 14, 2011 will be
remembered as the day on which Saudi Arabian troops
invaded Bahrain via an elevated highway linking the
two countries, to "help" crush the uprising.
Police have fired live rounds at
demonstrators, and have used clubs and teargas.
According to witnesses, cruelty has reached the
point that wounded protestors have been unable to
get to hospitals for treatment.
Due to the evident lack of
information, it is difficult to obtain any clear
idea of what is taking place.
Why has this case not been discussed
in the UN Security Council? Why has the Arab League
not sent in a team of observers? Why is there no
demand for Al Kalifa to step down, as is the case
with Bashar al-Assad of Syria?
Analyst Pepe Escobar states that
there was a tacit agreement between the House of
Saud and the White House, along the lines of, "You
invade Bahrain, we’ll give you an Arab resolution
which will allow you to go to the UN and then launch
the NATO humanitarian bombing of Libya."
Two UN diplomatic sources confirmed
this to Asia Times Online, and U.S. Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton gave the go-ahead for the
Saudi invasion of Bahrain.
This is another clear example of the
U.S. policy of double standards, or ‘do what I say
and not what I do.’
Maryam al-Khawaja, an activist and
director of the Bahrain Human Rights Center’s
Foreign Relations Department, has attacked Western
governments for selling arms to Bahrain.
During the last 10 years, U.S. sales
of military equipment to the country have risen to
$1.4 billion. In addition, Bahrain is in receipt of
an International Military and Education Training
program (IMET) and signed an agreement for $53
million in arms sales.
Why is such a small island so
important to Washington?
In 2002, the U.S. giant designated
the kingdom "a very important non-NATO ally." At the
same time, in March of 2008, the Al Khalifa regime
became the first Arab country to conduct joint naval
maneuvers with the United States. It is not
coincidental that the U.S. 5th Fleet is based in
Bahrain and will be the hub of any future U.S.
military action in the Gulf. It has already given
logistical support as a base in the Iraqi wars, and
to missions in Afghanistan.
Simply stated, the United States
cannot afford to lose Bahrain.