US, West complicit in Arab repression

March 26, 2011
Protests in Bahrain.

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, said that day.

Police also broke up protests in several cities on March 25, 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. 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, 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, said on December 1.

However, the Yemeni government claimed responsibility for the bombing. 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.


Incidents happens in Bahrain are different from Libiya or Yemen. Protests happening in Libiya & Yemen are may be for Democracy. But in Bahrain its happening only for Iran's interest. Iran is trying to make Bahrain their colony for more than 25 years. But they not succeed in same. Now they are trying the same with the help of Hisbulla which is funding them from Lebnon. They are misleading this people with saying the word democracy. Do you think Iran is democratic ? US knows Iran's interest in Bahrain. What was protesters doing in Bahrain ? They were attacking Expats. They have converted Salmaniya Hospital into a Protest camp including Doctors and Nurses. Doctors and Nurses were abusing the patients. They converted ambulance to protest camp. What action, govt required to take at this movement ? What will happen in US or UK, if they are facing such problems ?
The GLW editorial line doesn't seem to have changed since the Bush era when it was easy to bash the US and blame them for all of the Middle East's problems, and most of the world's. The new President seems reluctant to act on anything, indecisive, some would say weak - others sympathetic and humane. He appears to be standing back, trying to defend civilians with strong words, but with no clear policy goal in mind. But its equally clear he no fan of "big oil", or "the Israel lobby" for that matter. Perhaps to some its disappointing that the region's problems don't have such easily recognized scapegoats, villains or heroes these days. There are radical Islamists, secular militarists, corrupt autocrats and nepotists, all manner of unshaven tough guys with guns, the young "Facebook" revolutionaries have appeal - but are they real?
Maybe the reason GLW's editorial line hasnt changed is because the journalists bother to look beyond the impressionistic differences between Bush and Obama you mentioned to see that there is next to no difference between them in practice. They both govern on behalf of the corporate elite, using the power of the US government across the world to enforce the economic dominance of favoured elites and control of strategic assets. Judging by Obama's actions, rather than his media image, he is pretty much the opposite of what you wrote, in foreign policy at least. In 26 months in office, Obama has waged war on 6 countries. Obama is clearly a fan of big oil - he hasnt challenged their power in any way, drilling has expanded, and let BP get away with ecocide after oil disaster in the gulf of Mexico. And he is clearly a fan of Israel - apart from the fawning speeches, failure to condemn any crime Israel has committed and even allowing Israel to publicly defy him, the US is still giving billions of dollars of weapons to them. Obama's doing the exact same job as Bush did. Bush was just more open, brazen and shameless about what the job was.
I think you've been watching too much Bahrain state TV. You've repeated all the ridiculous excuses the Bahrain govt has come up with to justify the repression used to keep themselves in power. Id be more worried about Bahrain being a colony of the US right now, rather than the supposed threat from Iran. Iran has an awful, repressive, undemocratic govt. But if you compare Iran to the democratic structures and brutality of the Khalifah regime in Bahrain, Bahrain is probably about the same, maybe even worse. At least in Iran they can sometimes elect their leaders.

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