Canadian Conservatives support Bahrain dictatorship

This video says about itself:

Maryam Al-Khawaja on the Struggle for Human Rights in Bahrain

Feb 13, 2013

2012 Freedom Award winner Maryam Al-Khawaja speaks about the oppressive conditions in Bahrain that led to the imprisonment of Nabeel Rajab and other activists, and about the struggle that her father, Abdulhadi and sister, Zainab have faced in the fight for democracy and human rights in Bahrain.

From the Chronicle Herald in Canada:

Baird, Bahrain and the bogus Iran excuse

April 7, 2013 – 8:42pm

Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird visited Bahrain during his extended tour of the Middle East.

When the so-called Arab Spring wave of unrest first began in 2011, Bahrain was one of a number of states rocked by protests and violence, with the large Shiite majority staging massive protests and demanding the ouster of the ruling Sunni monarchy.

Similar public demonstrations led to rapid regime changes in Egypt and Tunisia, while in Libya and Syria they morphed into bloody armed rebellions.

The western powers heralded the removal of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali,

They ‘heralded’ it only after these two despotic allies of the USA, France, etc. had been driven away by the people. The vice president of the USA, Joseph Biden, denied that dictator Mubarak was a dictator and that he should resign, just before Mubarak resigned under the people’s mass pressure.

openly provided military aid to enable Libyan rebels to kill Moammar Gadhafi and, to this day, continue to provide assistance to the Syrian militias attempting to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

While we now know that these separate, but coincidental, revolutions had economic, religious, ethnic and tribal root causes, at the time, the pundits who dubbed this the Arab Spring sold it to us as the eruption of pro-democracy masses rising up against oppressive dictators.

Although this formula could have been applied to Bahrain, the protestations of the Shiite majority garnered almost no sympathy from the West. The reason for this is simple. Bahrain is a key U.S. ally and the country provides an important strategic naval base that supports the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

A successful Shiite-led regime change in Bahrain would certainly have jeopardized the cosy arrangement and would likely have drawn yet another Persian Gulf state into the Iranian sphere of influence.

To prevent this from happening, Bahraini security forces, assisted by troops from Saudi Arabia, were given a free hand in crushing the Shiite protesters.

An independent commission later confirmed that the Bahraini security forces had not only used excessive force, but also systemic torture in dealing with the crisis. To this day, human rights groups are claiming that Shiite activists are being detained and held under false pretences and, although largely unreported, there are still … demonstrations taking place in Bahrain.

Following his brief visit last week, Baird acknowledged to reporters that he had discussed these issues with his Bahraini counterparts.

“I commend [Bahrain] for their progress, but pushed them to make additional progress, and certainly offered Canadian support as they have that national dialogue,” said Baird.

Now, keep in mind that this is the same Baird who championed the Libyan rebels, urged them to continue the fight when a negotiated peace deal was in the offing and then staged a massive victory parade to celebrate the death of Gadhafi.

It is also the same Baird who initially met with the Syrian opposition leaders in exile and emerged barking, “Assad must go!”

Apparently, in Baird’s limited playbook, the use of martial force to oppress a majority is not wrong, so long as the oppressor is a key American ally.

And then, of course, there is always the “blame Iran” tactic. And, true to form, Baird used it to explain and/or excuse the Bahrainis for their use of extreme security measures.

“We should be very clear that Iran’s interference in some of its neighbours’ internal political affairs is something that’s distinctly unhelpful, and it is never motivated by good,” Baird told reporters.

Unfortunately for Baird, the independent commission that investigated the Bahraini crisis couldn’t find any direct link to the Iranian government.

Never mind, just throw it out there!

While it is true that Iran now exercises a lot of leverage with Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and is one of the few supporters of embattled Syrian President Assad’s government, the truth is that Iran certainly does not hold a monopoly on regional political meddling.

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, two of the other countries Baird visited last week, have also been extensively linked to the rebel movements in Libya and Syria.

While NATO air power was able to effect the defeat of Gadhafi loyalists in just 10 months, the civil war in Syria is now into its 26th month.

As was the case in Libya, the arms embargo in Syria is largely one-sided, with the international community turning a blind eye to weapons furnished to anti-Assad forces.

The death toll in the Syrian conflict is estimated at more than 70,000 and as many as four million civilians are believed to have been internally displaced by the ongoing violence.

One could easily make the argument that Qatar’s and the emirates’ financial support of anti-Assad fighters amounts to interference in a neighbour’s internal political affairs.

But Baird does not chastise them for that. It’s far easier just to blame Iran for doing the same thing.

Scott Taylor is editor of Esprit de Corps magazine.

23 thoughts on “Canadian Conservatives support Bahrain dictatorship

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  17. Baird’s tough talk on human rights rings hollow in Bahrain

    Special to The Globe and Mail

    Published Tuesday, Dec. 10 2013, 9:16 AM EST

    Last updated Tuesday, Dec. 10 2013, 11:14 AM EST

    Canada’s “principled” foreign policy keeps running into problems in Bahrain, the Gulf monarchy that violently suppressed pro-democracy protests in 2011.

    When Foreign Minister John Baird visited the country in April, he made no public comment about Bahrain’s repressive practices, including the regime’s continued incarceration of democracy activists. His silence was troubling, not least because the Conservative government has repeatedly portrayed itself as an uncompromising defender of human rights, democracy, freedom and the rule of law.


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