Op-Ed: Bahrain's Sordid Suppression
The continuing suppression in Bahrain following the brutal and callous crackdown of a peaceful countrywide democratic insurrection is utterly reprehensible. As is the western powers avoidance to help those seeking justice in their righteous struggle.
Who can forget the inspirational images that came from Tehran in June 2009? When Iranians gathered in solidarity on the streets giving the world a glimpse at what Iran may look like if it were a more pluralistic society. Who could also forget the horrific and sadistic crackdown by regime forces that saw the infamous broad daylight murder of Neda Agha-Soltan?
That struggle inspired many and has caused others who had maintained a very negative view of Iran and her people to rethink their perceptions and why they had them in the first place. Others have gone as far as to say that they directly inspired the Arab Spring that broke out in December 2010 when a street vendor in Tunisia immolated himself and sparked several revolutions
that saw three dictators forced from power.
As was the case with Egypt the Bahraini peoples protest
was countrywide, people were in solidarity with each other, and like Egypt's Tahrir Square their focal point of protest was the Pearl Roundabout in Manama. As with the images that came from Tehran we saw people in solidarity with each other peacefully demonstrating and calling for freedom and dignity. A young poet and student named Ayat Al-Qurmezi stood in front of her fellow Bahrainis and read a poem she had written in which she powerfully proclaimed:
"We are the people who will kill humiliation and assassinate misery. Don't you hear their cries? Don't you hear their screams?”
Unlike in Tahrir Square where Mubarak had the army encircle and his air force buzz past until he realized he would have to step down or fight his own people, the Bahraini Royal Family decided that instead of offering compromises or concessions it would fight its own people. And it did, brutally and sadistically, beating and shooting protesters and driving them out of the Pearl Roundabout like they were feral animals. Ayat was later imprisoned, tortured and under duress forced to make an apology to the Royal Family for having the gall to criticize the regime for its actions and its sectarian policies that oppress and marginalize the island kingdoms Shia majority.
At this time the United States was beginning to enter the Libyan Civil War and was given support by Saudi Arabia
which had sent its troops in, in order to aid the Bahraini Royal Family in its large scale crackdown. In turn the United States didn't make an official condemnation for the actions undertaken by the Khalifa regime.
Since then Bahrain has seen sectarian blows, the Pearl Monument was hastily demolished and the Square itself cordoned off depriving the protesters of a focal point of conglomeration or of the right to peacefully demonstrate. Dissidents and prisoners of conscience have been tortured. Doctors who assisted protesters that were badly beaten or shot in the Salmaniya hospital were attacked by thugs at the time and were deprived of assisting those mortally wounded and in urgent need of treatment, to add insult to injury they were tried in trials that made a mockery out of elementary justice, as the doctors like Ayat were under duress
and forced to confess to crimes they self-evidently did not commit.
The regime there has clearly opted to live on even if it must utilize suppression and continue to oppress a clear majority of its people. The ignoble (to say the least) actions it has taken over the past year is enough to make ones stomach turn.
If the western powers are to be taken seriously when they speak up for democratic dissidents who risk their lives when they speak out against the regime in Tehran then they must demonstrate it by speaking up for those who are fighting for the same thing in Bahrain. These people aren't mere fifth columnists of Iran
, they are people whom have been unfairly discriminated against on sectarian grounds and deprived of some of the most elementary civil -- and even human -- rights.
The United States and Israel have been the loudest voices warning of the nuclear threat that Iran will soon pose, as they claim the regime there is scrambling to build nuclear weapons. This issue has been recurring for quite some time now and often attracts a lot of 'if they have the bomb this is what will happen' scenarios. This commentator sincerely doubts the regime currently in power in Tehran will simply throw away all the wealth and power they have accumulated over the past few years in some quixotic nuclear strike against Israel. Instead they may use such weapons as cover for an intervention in the neighboring island kingdom.
Why on earth would they do such a thing?
It is a big 'what if' but is certainly not an implausible scenario. The Iranian regime often employs a 'siege mentality'
through its propaganda outlets in a bid to make Iranians fearful of outsiders and prompt them to support and rally behind the regime. Iran is the only major Shia country in the world, the majority of Bahrainis are Shia, and they're oppressed by a Sunni minority regime which is directly backed by Saudi Arabia in its efforts to keep the Shia marginalized. The Iranian regime could play the brotherhood and humanitarian card all at once. When -- if they are in fact pursuing such weaponry that is -- they have the bomb the regime could rally and stir up much needed religious fervor within the country (all the while rooting out dissidents behind the scenes and doing away with them as they had previously done under the cover of the Iran Iraq War) and go on a professed moral crusade in order to liberate their oppressed Shia brothers and sisters from the clutches of their Sunni oppressors and deter any rapid military response by western forces with their newly acquired weapons.
Bahrain was historically part of a much greater Persian Empire
, however it was conquered by the Arabs and had remained under the control of the same family ever since. It is still seen by many conservative hard liners in Tehran as being rightfully Iran's in a manner eerily reminiscent to how Saddam Hussein asserted that Kuwait was rightfully part of Iraq.
Saddam acknowledged that his one mistake in invading Kuwait when he did was that he did it too soon, he saw in hindsight he should have held back marching into Kuwait until after he had gotten the bomb.
This shows how potentially dangerous the situation in Bahrain is and how it has the clear potential to lethally affect the wider region. The present suppression therefore needs to be officially condemned by the west and not conveniently ignored and slyly prohibited.