SHAFAQNA – Looking at Bahrain and how western capitals insist on treating al-Khalifa regime as the only ally to be had in the pursuit of geopolitical control, I often recall former US President Jimmy Carter’s comment in 1978 when he boasted of the Shah of Iran’s grip on power.
“Under the Shah’s brilliant leadership Iran is an island of stability in one of the most troublesome regions of the world. There is no other state figure whom I could appreciate and like more.”
Needless to say that President Carter learnt soon after, that what he thought he knew of Iran’s political situation, and by extension that of the region as a whole, was in fact based on America’s own-sense of imperial entitlement, and not reality.
Washington as it were only saw what it wanted to see, or rather what its arrogance allowed it to see.
Holding a people down in abject oppression is not a euphemism for political stability … quite the opposite in fact. It is after all in our nature to resist when faced with injustice. Couple such dynamic to an entrenched belief that God created man free, and revolution becomes the only rational way to be.
I will be as bold as to warn that Washington has yet to learn to see beyond its own self-righteous exceptionalism, and smell the proverbial roses. Bahrain we may soon learn could escape imperialism’s grip and forever assert itself independent from foreign diktat.
Now, wouldn’t that be grand?
I realise that as the kingdom island sits under absolute lock and key – courtesy of Saudi Arabia and its foreign partners, most experts would argue that Bahrain remains an oasis of stability against Asia’s rising defiance.
Bahrain is anything but … Bahrain’s declaration of independence and the pending ouster of the monarchy is in fact long overdue. I guess time will tell us all how Bahrain’s history will be written.
But whether in a year or several decades, it is the people who will ultimately decide what future they will call their own, and whose authority they will pledge themselves to. There is unspent strength in that of a popular uprising – especially when anchored in resistance against tyranny.
It is most likely because western capitals have failed to understand Bahrainis’ motivations, and listen to those voices, which, from behind the iron curtain have cried freedom and just reparation, that Bahrain will be lost to imperialism gravitas.
But let us put aside geopolitics and western hegemonism for a second, to make space for Bahrainis, and tell their struggle from their perspective.
For all experts so called expertise, it is seldom a voice was given to those whose lives are being affected, threatened and in many cases forfeited under the tyranny of al-Khalifa monarchy. Maybe if we were to learn of Bahrainis’ struggles we would offer more than apathetic ignorance to their democratic ambitions.
One can dream right?!
Bahrain it needs to be said has burnt under the fire of state-organized oppression for decades – courtesy of the grand Wahhabist Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, al-Khalifa monarchy’s very own financial sponsor and grand religious master.
Why Bahrain you may ask? How can such a tiny island be that important to so many powers? One word: geopolitics.
The kingdom island not only sits on an important waterway – military and financially speaking, but it also offers Wahhabism a buffer against Revolutionary Iran, the one power Riyadh fears most of all, since it speaks of liberation and emancipation from imperialism.
I realise that most of you have been taught to detest Iran on account its Iranian, but really you are missing the historical picture. Iran is no more the Devil than Cuba was when it proclaimed itself free from western corporate imperialism. But that would be for another article …
From a slow burning fire of oppression, Bahrain was set alight by a grand regional revolutionary movement in 2011 – the one Revolution to end all Gulf monarchies, and in the tenets of Democracy free them all.
Riyadh of course had other plans. And so began a vicious crackdown and misinformation campaign, sprinkled with good old bribery and political manipulation. As of 2011 Bahrain was essentially sold to the western war complex in exchange for western silence.
Ask yourself this: how much do you know of Bahrain’s suffering? Do not fool yourself into thinking that Bahrain was not bled dry under al-Khalifa’s violent fury. Bahrain has lost too many of its sons and daughters to brutal oppression for you to claim ignorance.
You don’t even need to look further than 2016 to appreciate the genocidal insanity of al-Khalifa regime – so much so actually that not even the United Nations could hide its outrage.
This January the Bahrain Mirror summarized the situation as follow: “The year 2016 witnessed an unprecedented escalation of tensions caused by Bahrain against United Nations institutions concerned with human rights issues, including insults directed at UN officials such as Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who was described by the Bahraini Minister of Foreign Affairs as “powerless”. This came as a result of the continuous criticism against the Bahraini regime regarding human rights violations.”
How did al-Khalifa react to such critic? Well of course disdain and Saudi-sponsored arrogance.
The Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmad Al Khalifa attacked the UN Human Rights Council on Monday August 29, 2016, during a joint press conference held with the head of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul-Gheit in the Bahraini capital Manama. Al Khalifa said that Bahrain “will not for one moment heed any voices from outside trying to blackmail it, especially the Human Rights Council.”
Actually not! Bearing in mind that al-Khalifa has used western capitals’ silence and hunger for lucrative contracts and military access to further entrench monarchical absolutism, no one is really laughing.
I would say that Diraz siege embodies the absurdity and radicalism of al-Khalifa monarchy.
The Bahrain Mirror writes: “For over half a year, since June 20, 2016, Bahraini security authorities overpowered a full siege on the Bahraini town of Diraz, home to the prominent Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim. All entrances and roads leading to the town were blocked. Entry and exit from the town were prevented even on foot, unless through a checkpoint. With cement barriers, even the sides of some streets were blocked making it impossible to have any passageway into the town. This has been the hardest and longest siege ever enforced on a Bahraini town, in the history of the country. The siege, in which dozens of security vehicles are used, was imposed as soon as thousands of citizens gathered outside the house of the Bahraini Shia spiritual leader Sheikh Isa Qassim, after authorities announced revoking his nationality.”
One man: Sheikh Isa Qassim has come to crystalize Bahrain’s revolution, and the regime, in good fascist fashion has sworn to burn the very ground he stands on, come what may, regardless of the many lives such actions will claim.
How many more atrocities would have to be committed for silence to be broken? how many activists will have to be imprisoned, tortured or stripped of their citizenship on account a monarchy ambitions to play ethnic cleansing and sectarian demographic engineering?
No matter how desperate western capitals are to proclaim Bahrain a model of stability it is evident Revolution lives in the kingdom island. The real question should be: at which point will they wake-up from their self- induced imperial coma?
Bahrain will fall to the people! And so it should be …
By Catherine Shakdam – Director of Programs for the Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies
This article was published first in the Huffington Post