Life is a golden gift from Allah if you’re a certified member of the Gulf Counter-Revolution Club (GCC), also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council; Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates can torture, kill, repress and demonize their own subjects – in full confidence the “master” will let you get away with it.
Just as the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty in power in Bahrain is vowing, publicly, to keep arresting, tear-gassing, raiding their homes, confiscating their jobs and forcing pro-democracy protesters to live in non-stop fear, Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa is being hosted in Washington by the Barack Obama administration.
Prince Salman – who Bahraini propaganda sells as a “moderate” – showed up at the US State Department side-by-side with Secretary of State Hillary “We came, we saw, he died” Clinton. Those who “die” are evil dictators of the Muammar Gaddafi variety; “our” bastards get to party in DC after being extended a red carpet welcome.
Is there any Arab Spring-related repression and killing going in Bahrain? According to Clinton, of course not; these are only “internal issues” – in her own words.
What this means in practice is that Clinton subscribes to the official narrative that the sectarianization of everything happening in Bahrain is to be blamed on the protesters – and not the al-Khalifas, who for a year now have been destroying Shi’ite mosques and investing on all-out demonization of all things Shi’ite (blame it on “evil” Iran).
The al-Khalifas have been way wilier than President Bashar al-Assad in Syria; they have killed only an acceptable number of people. But why is Bahrain substantially “different” from Syria? Because “it hosts the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, helping the US military project its might in the Gulf and contain Iran”; and that’s not a neo-conservative talking, but Washington director of Human Rights Watch, Tom Malinowski.
A Bunch of Cowards
Here is Libya conqueror Clinton:
Bahrain is a valued ally of the United States. We partner on many important issues of mutual concern to each of our nations and to the regional and global concerns as well. I’m looking forward to a chance to talk over with His Royal Highness a number of the issues both internally and externally that Bahrain is dealing with and have some better understanding of the ongoing efforts that the government of Bahrain is undertaking. So again, His Royal Highness, welcome to the United States.
Here’s a Bahraini government spokesman telling it like it is to Reuters only one day before the Clinton-Crown Prince schmooze:
We are looking into the perpetrators and people who use print, broadcast and social media to encourage illegal protest and violence around the country. If applying the law means tougher action, then so be it.
Translation: we will keep going on a rampage because the masters in Washington have our backs covered.
Not a word from the Obama administration on the arrest of top Bahraini human-rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who Amnesty International declared a “prisoner of conscience”, as well as calling for his immediate release. Activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, for his part, has been on a hunger strike for three months, protesting his life imprisonment by the al-Khalifa regime.
R2P, “responsibility to protect”, that oh so lovely doctrine espoused by the Three Graces – Clinton, US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and Special Assistant to Obama Samantha Power – does not apply to civilian protesters, the majority of them Shi’ites, in Bahrain. They have been yelling for their basic human rights – of which they don’t have much – to be protected for over a year now.
Bahrain’s Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa – whose Medieval methods would lead Egyptian Omar “Sheikh al-Torture” Suleiman to blush with envy, not to mention Prince Nayef from the House of Saud – has been in power for 40 years.
And Bahrain’s King Hamad has been oh so generous; after all he commissioned a report on the repression. Needless to say, the report, even highly sanitized, hasn’t been implemented.
What makes it even more tragic is that these people are cowards. It would take just a single word from Clinton or Obama for the al-Khalifas to immediately stop their concerted repression, using their hardcore Sunni police force recruited from Pakistan, Syria and Yemen; release the thousands of prisoners; and rehire the thousands of workers who were laid off because they are “subversive”. Here’s why.
There has been a rumor in Britain that Nasser Bin Hamad, the son of Bahrain’s King, might be banned from attending the London Summer Olympic Games this summer. There are graphic reasons for it; he personally threatened many athletes, on top of being accused of torture. So what did he do? In haste, he deleted all his threatening tweets. Expect Nasser to be partying in Mayfair in July.
• This article first appeared in Asia Times.