Despite their talk about democracy, the governments of the US and other Western nations are very interested in stopping the wave of democratic uprisings across the Arab world.
The threat of real democracy is not compatible with the system of economic dominance and political control that the US enforces across the world.
The US will do everything it can to stop the resource-rich Arab countries from escaping its clutches, especially when it has already spent so much effort on propping up tyrannical governments across the region.
US officials often raise “concerns” and call for “restraint” when violence occurs. However, their lack of real action indicates their general approval.
Two current examples of this are Bahrain and Yemen. Far from having a “civilising” effect on “bad government” the brutal Bahraini and Yemeni regimes have survived this long due to US support.
Both governments have launched a series of crackdowns against pro-democracy protesters since uprisings began in February.
The Bahraini regime’s latest crackdown began on March 14. The March 23 British Guardian said 21 protesters had been killed, up to 100 others were missing and hundreds more were badly wounded.
Protesters were fired on by security forces, which used tanks and helicopters. Gangs of pro-government thugs also attacked protesters with swords and knives.
Shia Muslim neighbourhoods, where most of the protesters live, were terrorised by security forces and thugs.
The repression was supported by military forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who blockaded hospitals to stop injured protesters being treated.
Protest sites, such as the now-demolished Pearl Roundabout and Financial Harbour, were taken over by security forces. Trade unions called off a week-long general strike on March 22, FT.com said that day.
Police also broke up protests in several cities on March 25, PeopleDaily.com said the next day.
Compared with their condemnation of the violence in Libya, the West’s response has ranged from muted criticism to overt support of the Bahraini regime’s savagery.
The March 21 Wall Street Journal reported National Security Adviser Tom Donilon answered a question about the Bahrain dictatorship’s violent crackdown by stating: “Bahrain has been a longtime ally of the United States of America and a longtime partner.”
The WSJ said: “He added that Bahrain was attempting to work with the opposition and that the U.S. was pressing both sides to negotiate.”
The Guardian reported that Robert Cooper, one of the European Union’s highest-ranking diplomats, said: “One should understand the authorities were right to restore calm and order and that's what they've done.”
Cooper said Bahrain was “a rather pleasant, peaceful place”, and that “accidents happen”.
A March 14 statement by the Coalition for a Republic in Bahrain (CRB) said: “Acts of repression in recent days as well as [Saudi and UAE] foreign military intervention, coincided with the visit to Bahrain of US secretary of defence, Robert Gates.
“This raises many questions about the United States’ role in the current situation and makes it a partner in what is going on from violations of human rights to denying the Bahraini people their legitimate right to democracy and freedom.”
Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s fifth fleet and a US airbase. These forces are used by the US to protect its economic dominance in the Persian Gulf, through which 40% of the world's oil shipments pass.
It also maintains a military threat against nearby Iran.
The US — like Bahrain’s former colonial master, Britain — has backed the Khalifah royal family to keep the country safe for imperial interests.
The CRB said negotiations pushed by the Bahraini regime and the US were not genuine.
“What the regime has announced so far in the name of dialogue is nothing but empty declarations in a desperate attempt to respond to, protract and stall the revolution,” the CBD’s statement said.
MSNBC.com reported on March 23 that Bahraini worker Hussain Oraibi said: “The divide between the ruler and people in Bahrain is now beyond repair and the situation will inevitably explode sooner or later like it kept doing over the past 110 years.”
Protests have continued despite the latest crackdown in Yemen which killed at least 52 protesters and wounded hundreds more on March 19 by pro-government snipers, SMH.com.au said on March 21.
The US has long lent its support to the repressive regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Yemen has also been a key ally in the US’s “war on terror”. This has included allowing the US to bomb alleged terrorist camps across the country.
The Saleh government has used the “war on terror” as an excuse to crack down on its domestic enemies, either linking them to Iran or al-Qaeda.
Saleh’s collaboration with the US extended to covering for US crimes in Yemen.
In December 2009, the US bombing of an alleged al-Qaeda training camp at al-Ma’jalah killed 41 civilians, including 21 children, Amnesty.org said on December 1.
However, the Yemeni government claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Amnesty.org reported that a secret US cable released by WikiLeaks from January 2010 said: “Saleh is reported as having assured US General David Petraeus that his government would ‘continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours’.”
The leaked cable said that US military funding to Yemen rose from US$67 million in 2009 to $150 million in 2010.
Far from being a “humanitarian” influence on tyrannical governments, the US directly fosters tyranny. The trail of blood from the increasingly lethal crackdowns across the Arab world inevitably leads back to the US and other Western powers.