Bahrain is being sucked into a downward spiral of repression and dirty tricks by Finian Cunningham

by Finian Cunningham
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from PressTV
Nov. 10, 2012

Procession begins

Image by Al Jazeera English via Flickr

The US-backed Bahraini regime is becoming increasingly desperate to suppress the pro-democracy movement and to cling on to power. We know this because it is stepping up repression and dirty tricks.

More than 20 months of continuous demonstrations across the Persian Gulf island state have not been deterred by state terrorism and repression. The mainly Shia population keeps coming out on to the streets, in even greater numbers, demanding the downfall of the unelected Sunni monarchy – despite systematic, gratuitous murder, imprisonment and torture by Western and Saudi-backed regime forces.

That is why the Al Khalifa dictatorship is now ratcheting up the repression. It is running out of options. The escalation in repression is a last-gasp bid to crush the peaceful pro-democracy movement – a movement that came alive on February 14, 2011 and which simply refuses to bow to a self-styled king and his corrupt cronies.

Just this weekend, Bahraini military police attacked hundreds of Shia worshippers trying to attend Friday prayers at a mosque in the village of Diraz. A 16-year-old boy was killed when regime forces drove a vehicle over him, leaving his mangled body along the roadside; others had to abandon their cars as police fired toxic gas canisters through their windscreens.

This is a regime that has lost all legitimacy and is quickly degenerating. The veneer of constitutional monarchy has been stripped away, revealing a brutal dictatorship that knows no bounds to its barbarity, as it tries to desperately staunch its power ebbing away. But the Al Khalifa rulers are finding that they no longer have any power over the people.

For decades, the British-imposed autocrats ruled with an iron rod and subjected the people to fear. However, there is a new, more powerful awakening in Bahrain now. The people en masse are no longer afraid of the tyrant; they are no longer malleable to his malicious desires.

Yes, the regime has tanks and guns and still has evil hands willing to do its nefarious work. It also has an American Navy Fifth Fleet moored on the island and British securocrats running its torture apparatus. But none of this can save a venal, pathetic elite that is corrupted to its very core and which has been evacuated of all moral decency in the eyes of the people. Paradoxically, every death, injury and crime committed by this regime only further diminishes its residual power.

The surge in state terrorism over the past weeks is accompanied by more dirty tricks and propaganda stunts. Last month saw an alleged terrorist explosion in the village of Eker which allegedly killed a policeman. (A previous column by this author showed that the incident was most likely a fabrication by the regime.)

That incident was followed by a week-long siege on the village during which residents were terrorized by house raids and massive deployment of toxic gas by pro-government thugs who were allowed to run amok.

A week after that war crime of collective punishment, the regime announced that all political demonstrations were to be henceforth banned “in the interests of safeguarding public order”. All public gatherings of more than 20 persons were prohibited anyway, but due to mounting pressure over the past year the regime had been under pressure to grant licenses to some rallies (which would routinely be harassed and attacked by riot police.) Now even those tightly controlled demonstrations are no longer officially tolerated – although, in typically defiant fashion, the people are disobeying the latest royal decree and continuing their street protests.

Over the past year, the Bahraini rulers had been assiduously trying to coax sections of the political opposition into a dialogue process. The dialogue was fervently endorsed by the regime’s political patrons in Washington and London. However, despite the inveiglements, the people have remained steadfast in not buying the offer of dialogue, which they rightly see as just another attempt by the Al Khalifa rulers to procrastinate and revamp the corrupt status quo.

Down through the decades, the Bahraini people have been promised democratic reforms by the rulers and every time these promises have not materialized. The people have grown tired of the charade; they just want this regime to finally get off their backs and give way to the demand for democracy; the people don’t want dialogue with criminals and torturers, they want an elected government that will represent the needs of the people, not enrich a pampered elite.

It is precisely because the mass of Bahrainis refuse to accept anything less than the abolition of the Al Khalifa royal racket and the institution of democratically elected government that the defensive regime and its backers are now resorting to last-ditch repression. The regime has no more cards to play. Its disingenuous offer of dialogue and compromise has been rumbled and snubbed definitively. So, out of petulance and desperation, the regime is baring its knuckles. It is on the ropes and fighting for its very life.

What we can expect to see is more repression and more dirty tricks to justify this repression. This is the background that best explains a series of five explosions that allegedly took place last Monday in the capital, Manama. The alleged “improvised explosive devices” reportedly killed two Asian expatriate workers and injured a third, all of whom were named in the local media.

Within 24 hours, the regime claimed that it had arrested four people in connection to the alleged blasts and immediately attributed blame for the “terror attacks” on Lebanese Shia resistance group Hezbollah. Using flimsy logic, the Bahraini state media asserted: “Their terrorist practices prove that they have been trained outside the kingdom. The hallmarks of Hezbollah are crystal clear.”

This is like adding two and two and making fifteen. The only people to whom such a clunky conclusion is clear are those who had the pre-conceived notion of its clunkiness.

No-one claimed responsibility for the incidents and Hezbollah issued a stern rebuttal of the Bahraini regime’s claims, denying that it had anything to do with them. Indeed, the Beirut-based organization noted that: “We believe Bahrain’s intelligence carried out these bombings in order to exploit them to crack down on the peaceful opposition and to avoid responding to their rightful demands.”

Hezbollah is spot-on in its appraisal. But let’s look at a few pointers to why this is a dirty trick.

First, the alleged blasts that hit the capital on Monday were claimed by the interior ministry to have occurred in the districts of Adliya and Gudaibiya. These are densely populated areas. Yet Bahraini sources say that no-one is reported to have heard or witnessed any such explosions.

Secondly, Bahraini medical sources say that due to the large and mainly poor Asian expatriate population in Manama – numbering 200,000-300,000 – there are at any given time many deceased Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals whose corpses are kept in morgues, their remains not claimed by any family members. This is not unusual as many of these expats are in Bahrain as illegal immigrants living anonymous, lonely lives. And because they come from poor communities on the Indian sub-continent their families would often have no way of knowing of their deaths. It would therefore be quite easy, and convenient, for the Bahraini authorities to make use of dead Asians for fabricating terrorist attacks.

Thirdly, the Bahraini regime has a long history of fabricating such “terror plots” down through the decades. Dozens of Bahrainis have been imprisoned, some for life, some executed, on the basis of trumped-up terrorist offences. When the regime declared a state of emergency in March 2011 to justify the invasion of Saudi forces to crush the pro-democracy movement, it was claimed that the island was the victim of a terror plot hatched by Iran and Hezbollah. In truth, the Al Khalifa’s favorite bogeyman story is foreign-backed plots orchestrated from Tehran or Beirut.

Finally, what were the consequences of the latest “terror plot”? Well, campaigners for migrant workers noted that the Bahraini regime showed noticeably little concern for justice and security of the Asian expat community; from its immediate response and rhetoric, the regime was most animated to condemn and criminalize the pro-democracy movement. This was graphically illustrated when the authorities announced two days after the alleged incident that they were “revoking citizenship rights” for 31 pro-democracy leaders, including clerics, academics, lawyers and human rights defenders. The inordinate move has been denounced by international rights groups as a deeply chilling repressive measure, contravening the UN universal declaration of human rights. The Orwellian decree of removing nationality from political opponents – at a stroke making such persons “non-people” – is undoubtedly a calculated move to intimidate the population from voicing dissent.

Bahrain is being sucked into a downward spiral of repression and dirty tricks. The more its people resist the illegitimacy of the US and British-backed regime, the more this spiral will quicken with desperation. Many more violations may spin out. However, one thing is certain. The people will not be defeated in their demands for democratic freedom. Sooner or later the spiral of repression will hit the bottom of its Machiavellian machinations and the Western-backed regime will be smashed asunder.

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


[DS added the video.]

Nov 11, 2012 by

A political analyst tells Press TV that the continued brutal acts of the Bahraini regime will not end the uprising and the people of Bahrain will keep on fighting against the monarchy. The comments come after thousands of people took to the streets in Bahrain to condemn the recent killing of a teenage activist protester who was killed by Manama regime forces in the village of Diraz. Press TV has conducted an interview with Radwan Rizk, political analyst, to further discuss the issue.

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