…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
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President Obama’s ‘friends’ continue in failed strategy of brutal repression in Bahrain

OP-ED: Bahraini Repression Amidst a Failing Strategy
6 September, 2012 ⋅ by Mauro Teodori – IPS

This week’s decision by the Bahraini court of appeals to uphold the prison terms against Bahraini opposition activists is a travesty of justice and an indication that Bahraini repression continues unabated.

Bahraini officials, when confronted with angry world reaction to the court’s decision, cynically hid behind the claim they would not interfere in the proceedings of their “independent judiciary”.

Despite the threat to U.S. national interests and the security of U.S. citizens in Bahrain and elsewhere in the Gulf, Washington remains oblivious to the ruling family’s violent crackdown against peaceful protesters in the name of fighting “foreign elements”. Pro-democracy Bahrainis are wondering what we are waiting for.

Because of our muted reaction to what’s happening in Bahrain, the ruling family and their Saudi benefactors have not taken seriously Western support for democratic transitions in the Middle East.

The United States and Britain maintain deep economic and security relations with these states but also enjoy strong leverage, including the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet, which they must revisit in the face of continued egregious violations of basic human rights by some of these regimes. Bahraini civil rights organisations and activists are expecting the United States to use its leverage to end regime repression.

Despite their pro-Western stance, there is nothing exceptional about the autocratic Gulf Arab regimes. And they should no longer be given a pass on the importance of democratic reform.

Staying in power will require Bahrain’s Al Khalifas and other Gulf tribal family rulers to do more than push a vicious sectarian policy and employ slick public relations firms. Their cynical and deadly game might buy them some time, but, in the end, they will not be able to escape their peoples’ wrath.

In the absence of genuine reforms in the next three years, the Gulf’s autocratic regimes will be swept aside by their peoples. The “people power” that emerged from the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and now Syria, cannot be kept out of these tribal states. In reality, they all have been touched by peoples’ demands for dignity and justice.

While Iran might be exploiting the protest movement to discredit these regimes, the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain goes back to the 1960s and 1970s – way before the Islamic Republic came on the scene.

Even more troubling for U.S. national security are the continued efforts by Al Khalifa to whip up anti-American attitudes among Bahrain’s more rabidly anti-Shia and xenophobic Sunnis. Bahrain and some of their Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) allies perceive the growing rapprochement between the U.S. and the new Islamic democrats, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia, as a sign of tacit opposition to Gulf autocrats. …more

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