Wed Nov 22, 2017 | 20:05
Bahrain: America's big paradox
Thu, 17 Mar 2011 18:57:15 GMT
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US Defense Secretary Robert Gates (L) meets with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa at Sakhir Palace in Manama, March 12, 2011.
Egyptian youths boycotted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Cairo.

Tunisian youths also voiced their opposition to her visit to the capital of the first Arab country to host a revolution. If she travels to Bahrain, Yemen or Libya, she will face a similar response.

The decision by Egyptian and Tunisian youths is a significant step and even another revolution indicating that the dominating air in Arab countries will witness many changes in the light of the recent fundamental developments.

The decision at least shows that the US attempt to embark on the wave of popular protests in Arab countries has not been successful, and the boycott of the visit by the US diplomatic chief refutes Washington's claims of having been beyond the Arab revolutions or having helped them, or that the revolutions are within the framework of US strategy or its interests.

The US has been hit by a great paradox in the Middle East. Bahrain is counted a clear instance of this incongruity between US President Barack Obama's billboard statements for “change” and maintaining Washington's vital interests in the Middle East.

The US secretary of state has called a “mistake” the decision by Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council's other member states for a military intervention in Bahrain. US sources say that Obama has expressed his ''deep concerns” over the violence in Bahrain in telephone conversations with the Saudi and Bahraini kings. The US government says that there is no military solution to the crisis in Bahrain and only political negotiations would end the impasse.

The comments come while the US secretary of defense was visiting the Bahraini king two days prior to the incursion of the Saudi and the UAE militaries into Bahrain. It sounds logical that military issues were discussed in this meeting.

Immediately after the arrival of the Peninsula Shield Forces in Bahrain, US officials said the Washington had earlier been informed about the move.

These officials did not agree to join the opponents of the Bahraini government in calling the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council's move an “invasion.”

The most distinct side-taking was that of Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said the United States was still on the same page as its Saudi allies. "I understand what they are doing. I think they are pushing for a dialogue. They're looking for reform. It is not an occupation.”

The very vague and ambiguous stance encourages the royal family in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar to stay longer in Bahrain.

The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council's military action to suppress popular reforms in Bahrain is viewed the largest Arab military intervention since Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Riyadh and its allies maintain that the blow of the breeze of political reforms and the spread of the revolutionary storm in the Arab world to other member states of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council is forbidden.

The military attack against Bahrain shows that the government is not strong enough to resist the demands of its people on its own. Bahraini protesters have called for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, the formation of a parliament and the formation of a government based on parliamentary majority.

They have also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa (The uncle of the King, who has been in power for more than 40 years), the preservation of national unity, an end to discrimination and elimination of financial corruption.

Foreign interference in Libya seeks to save the country's revolution. In the east of Arab world, however, it aims at suppressing Bahraini people's revolution. This contradiction will not last.

King of Bahrain seeking help from his Arab allies, suppressing people and the increasing number of victims could lead to the radicalization of Bahraini society, and make the establishment of a republic instead of monarchy -- which few people are calling for -- the demand of the majority.

Bahraini and Saudi governments have justified the military attack by resorting to religious differences. More than 70 percent of Bahrain's 500,000-strong population are Shias, who share the same views with 15 percent of Saudi Arabia's population who reside in oil rich areas neighboring Bahrain.

The Saudi King is trying to relate Bahrain's revolution or the protest of some of his people in the eastern parts of the country to religious motives.

This is while neither Bahraini revolutionaries nor protesters in eastern Saudi Arabia are calling for the establishment of a Shia government, and their main demand is for reforms and the formation of a constitutional establishment.

The military attack on Bahrain will complicate the situation instead of responding to people's demands. Despite the promises of Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to introduce political reforms, no step has been taken in this regard.

The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar -- passed a 10 billion-dollar economic aid to Bahrain before launching an attack against the country's protesters. The members of this council only know two ways to respond to people: economic aid and military attack.

Neither are the armies of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council stronger than those of Egypt and Tunisia, nor are their security organizations more expansive than Hosni Mubarak or Ben Ali's.

Nevertheless, their stances bear thinking because they lead underdeveloped regimes which are not familiar with political development, let alone deciding about political reform, circulation of power and just distribution of wealth.

Families who rule the PGCC member states are among the world's wealthiest people. This wealth has been accumulated through economic and military monopoly, and there is no organization supervising them; no Emir or Prince is held accountable.

Such underdeveloped regimes could not serve the US interests. Bahrain has fallen apart, its economy and education has stopped. Oman is collapsing. Saudi Arabia's military attack may be able to restore peace for a short time by killing people, but some day this army will leave Bahrain and Bahraini people will remain.

MRS/MYA/AKM
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