US supports bloody Bahrain dictatorship

This video is called Security forces open fire on crowds in Manama – Bahrain.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Bahrainis Fear the U.S. Isn’t Behind Their Fight for Democracy


Published: March 4, 2011

MANAMA, Bahrain — As more than 100,000 protesters

That means a very big demonstration for little Bahrain. As Bahrain has only 1,2 million people, of whom over half are non-nationals, with Indian migratory workers as the biggest group. Migrant workers will care about economic exploitation; but may be less interested in how Bahrain is governed as they think they may return to India etc. They also may fear being expelled from Bahrain if they would participate in pro democracy demonstrations. So far, I do not know yet to what extent if any migrant workers have participated in the pro democracy movement.

And of course, like with other demonstrations all over the world, there are always many people who would like to participate but cannot, being sick, having to care for sick people or children, having to work, not knowing where the demonstration starts, etc. All over the world, there are people supportive of aims of demonstrations but who do not like crowds, so who will not demonstrate. And, especially in Bahrain, some people would like to demonstrate, but do not want to be killed like happened to earlier demonstrators in Bahrain.

descended into the streets on Friday, women uniformly dressed in black flowing robes carried signs saying, “Revolution: The only solution.”

Three weeks of pro-democracy protests in this island nation have followed the pattern of those in Egypt and Tunisia, with cellphones and Facebook posts propelling the movement and a botched, deadly crackdown by security forces two weeks ago serving to embolden the demonstrators.

Yet those who lead and take part in the nearly daily demonstrations here say they fear at least one key difference: The United States may not be fully on their side.

Mr New York Times: the United States government was hardly “fully on the side” of the movements against Tunisian dictator Ben Ali and Egyptian Mubarak. Both Ben Ali and Mubarak had been provided with United States weapons and other support for decades. Only when the fall of both dictators seemed inevitable, Washington changed course.

When the mass movement on Tahrir square and elsewhere which would overthrow Mubarak was already fully on its way: Joe Biden, Vice President of the USA, said: “I would not refer to him [Mubarak] as a dictator.”

“The U.S. is not acting like they did in other countries,” said Ali Najaf, who marched on Friday amid a sea of red-and-white Bahraini flags. “We thought they would support the people.

Unlike in the case of Egypt, where President Obama promised to “stand up for democracy” and called for a change of power “now,” Washington has backed the royal family in Bahrain with statements supporting the country’s still-undefined proposal for dialogue with the opposition.

Obama administration officials say they believe the royal family has earned the right to try to navigate this period, after heeding the United States’s plea to call off the security forces who shot the protesters, killing seven of them. The president’s national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, has conferred with the country’s crown prince, Sheik Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, whom an administration official described as sensible.

On Sunday, Mr. Obama said he welcomed a “commitment to reform” by the king, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

But opposition parties say they do not believe there is enough pressure to produce genuine change.

Opposition parties are demanding the dissolution of the government and a true constitutional monarchy to replace King Hamad’s near-absolute powers.

In a region ruled by sultans and kings, the prospect of a democratic uprising in Bahrain has been deeply unsettling to America’s oil-producing allies in the Persian Gulf, especially because the majority of Bahrain’s citizens are Shiites.

The king, like most royalty on the western rim of the Gulf, is Sunni.

A majority Shiite government could further alter a religious balance already upset by the ascendance of the Shiite-led government in Iraq after the American-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein.

At a ramshackle mosque overflowing with worshipers on Friday, the most senior cleric of the Shiite community in Bahrain offered a veiled but somber message for the pro-democracy movement: America and the West support democratic aspirations in the Arab world — but only to a point.

“They are looking out for their own interests,” Sheik Isa Qassim said in his Friday sermon.

Foreign countries had supported democracy around the globe and even waged wars in the name of democracy, he said. “But these countries offer only cool, verbal support when it comes to regimes friendly to them,” Mr. Qassim said, an apparent reference to the Bahrain government.

Protesters here say their dreams of democracy are being thwarted by the United States’ desire to protect a large naval base in Bahrain, by the perception that Shiites reflexively side with Iran, and by the influence of neighboring Saudi Arabia, which analysts say would probably not accept a Shiite-led Bahrain.

Justin Gengler, a former Fulbright scholar in Bahrain, said he did not expect the United States to abandon its support for the Khalifa family, which has run this country for more than two centuries.

“As soon as it looks like the U.S. is not supporting royal families in the gulf region, it starts to raise eyebrows everywhere — in Qatar, in Saudi Arabia, in Kuwait, in Oman,” Mr. Gengler said. “The U.S. can’t turn its back on the Bahraini royal family without implicitly abandoning the idea of monarchies in the gulf.””

What a shame for the United States, considering their own history. The republic of the USA owes its existence to eighteenth century revolution against King George III of Britain (who, though autocratic, was less of an absolute monarch than his gulf colleagues today).

Opposition politicians here are seeking to convince Washington that a constitutional monarchy in Bahrain would not be a threat to regional stability. An elected government would be inherently more stable, said Matar Ebrahim Ali Matar, a Shiite member of Parliament who resigned after the government crackdown.

“The United States should support this wave of democracy — it’s coming,” Mr. Matar said. “If it doesn’t happen this year, it will come in the coming years.”

Under the current political system the lower house of Parliament is elected, but its lawmaking powers are curtailed by an upper house, whose members are appointed by the king, who also has wide-ranging powers to pass decrees.

After introducing some democratic reforms in the early part of the last decade, the government reversed course and cracked down on dissent last year, arresting 23 people and accusing them of terrorism.

Like other dissidents arrested in recent years, they were tortured — “regular beatings to all part of the body, sexual assaults, hanging for prolonged periods of time, electric prods,” said Faraz Sanei, a researcher on Bahrain and Iran in the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch.

See also here.

Demonstrators in Jordan are determined, as thousands continue to take to the streets of Amman: here.

While Voice of America and other US-backed international broadcasters were aggressively assertive during the cold war, Clinton laments the fact that since then funding has been cut back and US ideological global influence has weakened, especially with the increased influence of new kids now on the block, such as Russia Today and Al-Jazeera: here.

8 thoughts on “US supports bloody Bahrain dictatorship

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