…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
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U.S. Foreign Policy Threatens America’s Interests in the Gulf

Radical Allies and Moderate Subversives: U.S. Foreign Policy Threatens America’s Interests in the Gulf
13 Septemebr, 2012 – Anna Therese Day – Huffington Post

Just weeks ago, Nabeel Rajab, the “Gandhi of Bahrain,” spent his birthday in a prison cell. Originally “jailed for a tweet,” Rajab, the renowned president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, now faces up to three years in prison for allegedly inciting violence among protesters against the Bahraini monarchy. Bahrain has been engulfed in turmoil since early 2011 when the US-backed Al-Khalifa regime launched a violent crackdown against the nation’s popular non-violent reform movement. The regime has since selectively targeted the island’s ethnic-majority, its Shia population, and has gained a terrifying reputation for using brutal torture tactics on those citizens detained. Recently, Bahrain’s appeal courts upheld the sentence of 20 other opposition activists, ignoring domestic and international outcry.

In the Spring of 2011, I met Rajab and his family in their home in Bahrain. His then nine-year-old daughter, Malak, joined us for the interview. Just hours before our arrival, masked state security forces raided the Rajab’s family compound in the middle of the night, bombarding the grounds with teargas and forcing their way into the Rajab’s home with heavy weaponry. Needless to say, little Malak was far too traumatized to attend school that day.

Now Malak joins her brother, 15-year-old Adam, and her mother, Sumaya, to demand justice for her father whose appeal verdict will be announced on Thursday, September 27th. This date comes after the Bahraini court decision to postpone his hearing this week, a move that his lawyers claim was an attempt to prolong his jail-time. A countless number of international human rights organizations have joined in this call to action, and nearly 20 members of U.S. Congress demanded Rajab’s release in a letter to the King of Bahrain. Following his August 16th sentence, U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called on Bahrain to “vacate” the charges against Rajab and called for “the government of Bahrain to take steps to build confidence across Bahraini society and to begin a meaningful dialogue with political opposition and civil society.”

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

These condemnations from the State Department, however, are not reflected in U.S. policy toward the Bahraini monarchy. Despite the well-documented violence against its citizens, the U.S. Department of Defense resumed arms sales to Bahrain, rekindling a relationship that sold $200 million worth of weaponry to the regime in 2010. American companies added further insult to injury by hosting international oil and natural gas conferences and the 2012 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix, amidst the curfews and kidnappings that characterized daily life for the majority of Bahraini citizens. This gaping distance between America’s actions and words continues to send a far louder message to Bahraini civilians than the lip-service of the U.S. Department of State.

Bahrain’s Radical Regime, Moderate Subversives

Rajab is famous throughout not only the Middle East and North Africa, but also internationally for his tireless human rights advocacy and his pioneering commitment to using social media for social justice. Identified by Al Jazeera as “the informal leader of the Bahraini uprising,” Rajab responded that he plans to “forever remain in civil society” when I asked him about any potential political aspirations. Throughout the entirety of the uprising, his commitment to reform has been as steadfast as his tactics have been innovative. …more

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