Bahraini regime ‘terror stunt’ to step up repression by Finian Cunningham

by Finian Cunningham
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from PressTV
Oct 23, 2012

Image by Al Jazeera English via Flickr

The Western-backed Bahraini regime is stepping up its vicious repression in a bid to terrorize the mainly Shia population to enter into a fake dialogue process. The political dialogue, which is endorsed by Washington and London, is designed to give the appearance of reform, but in reality it is framed to not bring about any democratic change.

The so-called political process is aimed at consolidating the Al Khalifa regime, which is described as a “key partner” by the US and Britain. Bahrain is the base for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, its security forces are headed up by American and British personnel, and the island is seen as a military garrison that is key to projecting Western aggression towards Iran in the Persian Gulf.

Since the uprising began in February 2011, the Bahraini majority has pointedly refused to enter into a negotiated compromise with the unelected Sunni dynasty, headed by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Decades of empty promises of reform, deception, lies and violent repression have shown Bahrainis that the despotic regime cannot be trusted or indulged any longer. Most Bahrainis see the ruling clan as incorrigibly corrupt – exploiting the wealth of the Persian Gulf island to enrich just one family and its hangers-on while the majority live in poverty without decent jobs and housing.

That is why Bahrainis remain steadfast in their demand for the Khalifa elite to be removed and to be replaced by an elected government that would represent the needs of the population.

Now it seems that the impudent regime, and its Western backers, are ratcheting up state violence and repression in order to coerce the people into accepting the chimera of political dialogue. The dialogue is framed so as to retain the legitimacy of the Khalifa rulers even though these rulers have for decades treated the Shia population like second-class subjects; and even though the regime has over the past 18 months committed acts of murder against peaceful protesters, incarcerating and torturing thousands, including doctors, nurses, teachers, journalists, children and human rights defenders.

To justify this outrageous repression, the regime is embarking on yet another propaganda campaign to criminalize and smear the pro-democracy movement, alleging that it is engaging in acts of violence on behalf of a foreign power, which implicitly refers to Iran.

It’s an overused and ridiculous formula that has been wheeled out down through the decades by the unelected Sunni monarchs to disguise their despotic rule, by creating a heightened atmosphere of sectarian tension and national insecurity. The formula of fabricating terrorism involves breathless accusations that “foreign powers” are trying to subvert the “Kingdom of Bahrain” (a grandiloquent description for the “fiefdom of Khalifa”).

The latest propaganda stunt was staged in the village of Eker, some 20 kilometers south of the capital, Manama. Last Friday morning, a Pakistani national serving in the state security forces, named as Omran Ahmed Mohammed, was allegedly killed in a bomb blast. A second police officer was reported by state media to be suffering serious injuries.

Within hours of the incident, there were choreographed and bombastic condemnations of “an act of terrorism” from the prime minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the interior minister, Lieutenant-General Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, and the heads of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Bahrain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Shaikh Humood bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, was quoted by state broadcaster BNA as describing the perpetrators as “proxies manipulated like puppets by external sides to serve foreign agendas”. (Note the recurrence of the name Al Khalifa in Bahrain’s so-called government.)

Ambassador Khalifa “slammed the campaign of terror attacks as contravening consensus and damaging national unity, accusing the perpetrators of collusion with foreign sides preying on Bahrain”.

The state broadcaster added that the ambassador “considered the terror attacks in Bahrain as part of the conspiracy endangering the [P]GCC security, stressing solidarity to confront mounting challenges and threats”. And – wait for the bottom line – Shaikh Humood “paid tribute to the wise leadership for its patience and wisdom in dealing with events, pointing out that the doors of dialogue remain open for all parties”.

The extended quote is worth studying because its not-so-subtle nuances betray the real agenda and perpetrators behind this latest alleged attack in Bahrain. The “doors of dialogue remaining open” is the telling point.

Meanwhile, state-controlled Bahrain Television aired a video of the alleged terrorist blast in a news broadcast. The video purports to show the moment when the police officers were fatally attacked by “terrorists” in Eker village last Friday. [See video below.]

Everything about the televised video smacks of a set-up by the state security forces. Readers are invited to make up their own minds on the veracity of the video, but for this author it is an obvious contrivance. Notice first of all how luck would have it that a camera is conveniently in place to capture the whole scene “live”; notice too how there is no commotion at the scene as one would expect if this were indeed a surprise terror attack being carried out. In short, it’s a fake scene. All that was missing was a director’s chair and a clapperboard.

The bombastic, stilted condemnations by the regime of “outrageous terrorism” have precluded any independent criminal investigation into the incident. The regime’s immediate response was to put the village of Eker under siege, a siege which has been enforced for more than 48 hours and is reported by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) to be continuing as of this date.

Armed checkpoints have prevented the people of Eker from leaving or entering their village. Men have not been able to attend work for the past three days, women have not been allowed to obtain food supplies, and children are prevented from going to school. The BCHR reports that one woman had to give birth to a baby in her home without proper medical assistance because regime forces have thrown a ring of steel around the village, not allowing medical services in.

The siege has also involved house raids by un-uniformed security personnel without warrants. Homes have been smashed up by armed officers, several youths have been taken into custody, whose whereabouts are unknown. Women and children have been assaulted by police during these house raids. One boy told how officers threw a stun grenade at him because he was crying when they were brutally beating his elder brother.

Out on the streets of Eker, Bahraini security forces are firing toxic gas bombs into homes and shooting indiscriminately at anyone who happens to venture outside in a desperate attempt to break the siege.

Three human rights defenders, including Zainab Al Khawaja, have been arrested over the weekend after they tried to thwart the regime’s embargo on Eker to bring food and other necessities to the residents.

This is collective punishment of civilians – a crime against humanity – over an incident whose circumstances are highly suspicious and indeed point to the real perpetrators being state agencies.

Over the decades and the past year and half since the Islamic Awakening erupted, the Bahrain regime has routinely resorted to propaganda stunts that purport to smear the pro-democracy movement with criminal acts. These smear campaigns are then used by the regime to invoke emergency powers and unleash vicious repression against the civilian population. In truth, this is state terrorism.

The silence from Washington and London and the Western mainstream media is tantamount to tolerance of crimes against humanity by their Bahraini ally. By contrast, the histrionic response by the West to alleged violations in states deemed to be enemies, such as Syria and Iran, is an illustration of nauseating hypocrisy and self-serving cynicism.

Some examples from a burgeoning record of Bahraini regime propaganda stunts include a group of men from the village of Ma’ameer who were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 for the murder a Pakistani national – under dubious circumstances and involving confessions obtained by torture.

In 1996, again in the village of Eker, a police officer was allegedly killed by unknown assailants. Bahraini man, Isa Qambar, was convicted of that alleged murder and was executed by firing squad on 26 March 1996. Many human rights groups denounced the execution as “political murder” and pointed out that Qambar was denied a modicum of legal rights during his so-called prosecution.

During the Saudi-backed crackdown by regime forces in March 2011, a group of youths were convicted of killing a policeman – again a Pakistani national – and running a vehicle over his corpse in a car park. Two of the accused were sentenced to execution, which was later commuted to life imprisonment by the “merciful grace of the king”. A video of the alleged atrocity used by the prosecution was aired on Bahrain TV during the so-called trial. It horrified many among the public and ensured the men’s conviction even though the video was evidently fake. Close examination showed clearly that the prone policeman’s body was in fact a dummy. However, this evidence did not overturn the men’s conviction.

These are just a few examples of the many fabricated crimes that the Bahraini regime has concocted down through the years. In each case, innocent men are taken into unlawful custody, denied due process and condemned to death or life in prison on the basis of forced confessions. One can only dread that the men rounded up over the weekend in the village of Eker will be likewise convicted for the death and attempted murder of police officers.

In these propaganda stunts, it should be noted that the fate of the regime’s own security personnel suggests that individuals are sacrificed in a bid to authenticate the alleged crime. The manning of security forces with so many poor expatriates from Pakistan provides Bahrain’s Western-led military intelligence with plenty of cannon fodder to wage their malevolent propaganda campaigns.

Moreover, the regime’s own nefarious covert crimes are then used to justify even fiercer repression and state violence against the population. In the present context, the aim would appear to be to terrorize the peaceful opposition into accepting the “magnanimity” of the Khalifa dictators to engage in a “dialogue” that will serve to shore up what is otherwise a despotic regime – a criminal clan of thugs that are dressed in ermine and finery and which gives themselves titles of royalty.


Finian Cunningham, is a columnist at Press TV and a Featured Writer on Dandelion Salad. He can be reached at cunninghamfinian@gmail.com.

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Propaganda Alert

Oct 19, 2012 by

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