Bahrain, Saudi dictatorships after F1

This video is called Saudi invasion of Bahrain: The Alliance against Revolutions.

Bahrain court delays ‘toying with hunger striker’s life’: here.

Bahrain protester mourned: here.

By Nicholas Noe and Walid Raad:

Bahrain Grand Prix Has a Winner, and It’s Not Arab Monarchies

Apr 24, 2012 1:09 AM GMT+0200

Having been relegated to the minor headlines in both the Arab and Western media, the anti-government protests in the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain finally had their moment this weekend.

With foreign journalists and other outsiders descending on the island country for Sunday’s Grand Prix race, critics of the monarchy stepped up their activities to take advantage of the audience, while government forces responded as they have all along — with a strong arm. One activist was found shot dead on a roof, raising suspicions he may have been targeted by security forces. More than 50 protestors and several policemen have been killed since anti-government protests started in February 2011 in Bahrain, which has a population of 1.2 million.

In an editorial, the London-based, Palestinian-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi wrote: “The Formula 1 race generated results that went completely against the government’s wishes.” The concurrent protests “allowed the whole world to see that Bahrain is not as stable as the government is promoting and that it features a strong opposition demanding legitimate democratic change.” …

Ahead of the Grand Prix race, Saudi activists, presumably based in the mainly Shiite province of Al-Qatif neighboring Bahrain, set up a number of Facebook groups to support their co-religionists there. One popular page, called “Al-Qatif and Bahrain Are One People, Not Two,” carried a video that appeared to show clashes between Bahraini security forces and young people who chanted “down with Hamad.”

The Saudi rulers, who sent troops into Bahrain last year to support the king, understand well that if Bahraini and Saudi Shiites are one, Hamad is not the only Sunni leader in their sights. Perhaps that is one reason staunch defenders of the Saudi monarchy, like Asharq al-Awsat editor-in-chief Tariq al-Homayed, have become so forceful in accusing Bahrain’s opposition of engaging in dangerous sectarianism.

After all, if Shiites gain more rights in tiny Bahrain, then why not in Saudi Arabia?

(Nicholas Noe and Walid Raad are the Beirut correspondents for the World View blog. The opinions expressed are their own.)

Even a former CIA official no longer supports the United States Navy propping up the dictatorship in Bahrain.

From the Financial Times in England:

April 23, 2012 7:57 pm

America should pull its fleet out of Bahrain

By Emile Nakleh

The US Sunni strategy in the Gulf enables Bahrain’s ruling al-Khalifa dynasty’s continued repression of its citizens; pits the US against pro-democracy forces in the region; and aligns Washington with Riyadh’s counter-revolution sectarian policies. The strategy is shortsighted, undermines US standing in the region and is destined to fail.

The strategy is based on the false assumption that the Sunni world is monolithic and that Shia Arab communities all turn to Iran for theological guidance and political support. In reality, Sunni Muslims have diverse cultural, political and social goals and are not preoccupied, as some Gulf rulers are, with anti-Shia or anti-Iran rhetoric and policies. Meanwhile, Bahraini and Saudi Shia do not consider Iran their point of reference.

Invented in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the Sunni strategy was presented to the west as a defence plan against Iran. Unfortunately, Washington bought this bogus claim lock, stock and barrel for misconceived regional security considerations. …

Since the 1970s, the Bahraini government has accused the Shia majority of being a front for Iran and urged America to expand its naval presence in the Gulf as a protective shield against the perceived Iranian threat. Washington accepted the Bahraini position despite the fact that the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain in that period was primarily Sunni. …

To end the current violence and the regime’s human rights violations, three steps must be taken. First, western powers must strengthen the pro-reform faction in the ruling family. Second, Washington should urge the king to remove the prime minister, his uncle, from office; many Bahrainis think he symbolises corruption, repression and unyielding opposition to political reform. He has worked closely with Saudi Crown Prince Nayef to undermine the pro-democracy movement in the Arab world, especially in Bahrain.

Third, America should send a clear message to Bahrain’s regime to halt violence against the Shia and act on all the recommendations of the Independent Commission of Inquiry. Washington should also begin to pull its Fifth Fleet out of Bahrain. …

The Formula One cars did eventually race in Bahrain, but calls for reform are rapidly becoming chants for regime change. Regime obfuscation will not be able to silence demands for justice and the right to live freely forever.

The writer is former director of the CIA Political Islam strategic analysis programme and author of ‘Bahrain: Political Development in a Modernizing Society’

DUBAI, April 23: Protesters taking part in the funeral in Bahrain of a man allegedly shot dead by security forces clashed with police on Monday in the village of Bilad al-Qadim, witnesses said: here.

Bahrain: F1 can’t hide stalled reforms: here.

8 thoughts on “Bahrain, Saudi dictatorships after F1

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