One reason is that Bahrain is home to the American naval Fifth Fleet. That’s a strategic port of call in the Middle East. Iran considers Bahrain a breakaway island, and has been accused of inflaming the demonstrations in a bid to destabilize the island. Thus Bahrain and the US gets to thumb their noses and go, “Nanny nanny booboo,” to Iran. Geopolitics is always so great. The problem is that the US can only stand by and hope things break its way. As with Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen, a political shift away from American hegemony would be a huge pain for the White House.
The brutal crackdown of the pro-democracy movement has been in place ever since Bahrain’s King Al Khalifa declared a State of Emergency mid-March in response to the country’s pro-democracy protests. Arrests and torture have reduced the once large-scale demonstrations into scattered skirmishes. When you read from the AP and other sources schoolgirls are being tortured and that three people who edited an opposition newspaper will stand trial for “unethical” coverage of Shiite unrest against the Sunni elites, the prospect for a good ending for this story isn’t very likely. Oh yes, the Sunni-Shiite conflict is in full effect in Bahrain. Don’t hold your breath, because there is not going to be any White House condemnation over the crackdowns of revolutionary movements going on in yet another Muslim country. The US has already revealed where it stands between the people and the ruling class.
As of Monday, May 16, Al Jazeera has claimed that since no international press is allowed on the island, there no news of how the crackdown is progressing. But don’t single out America for its lack of response or criticism. No other nation is saying much of anything either.
And so it goes.
(Article first published as Why Doesn’t the U.S. Stop the Killing in Bahrain? on Technorati.)
First it was Tunisia, then Algeria, Yemen, Jordan and now Egypt. The calls are coming from people fed up with the authoritarian strongmen who have held power for decades, while the people struggle to survive within diminishment and poverty. The internet and social networking are among the major stories in this geopolitical conflagration that threatens to erupt, and the end of the story is nowhere near over. The Egyptian government decided to kill the internet, so that there was no ISP The complaints are the same: rampant unemployment for people under 30 years old, political corruption, a life-destroying bureaucracy and no chance for a future. The Middle East,, one can say, is currently undergoing a transformation that nobody knows where it will lead. There are two distinct possibilities that is in store for Egypt: one is the state will use all the repressive force it can muster, and the other which will lead to anarchy. I don’t really know which scenario would be worse. The protesters are calling for Mubarak’s removal. Mubarak responded with a crackdown, rubber bullets, water cannons, the arrest of 800 people in two days, and when all that failed to quell the violence and destruction of property, Mubarak fired the government and vowed to name a new one.
The entire story of the rebellion happening across the Middle East is that the American-backed strongmen like Mubarak and Tunisia’s Ben Ali were left untroubled by dissent for decades. It took the burnt body of a fruit vendor to set in motion the complex chain of events that are engulfing an area of the world with massive geopolitical importance to the United States, as Egypt is a key Middle Eastern ally.
And the mess is, unsurprisingly, all about money. Or the lack of money, as the Egyptian people would say. What is happening in the Middle East exposes the real limits of control that governments have. Whether the revolt will remove Mubarak remains to be seen, but what has transpired is that people aren’t going to so accepting of the unacceptable from their governments. But one does not have to wait to lose hope before drawing a line into the sand. An equal money system would work in countries like Egypt, but not as long as there are elites within and without the country that insist on profiting on the backs of the poor. but the control these countries tried to exert on its populace is crumbling, and that’s a good thing.