Bahraini Regime Holds Gun To Head In ‘Negotiations’ by Finian Cunningham

by Finian Cunningham
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from PressTV
February 10, 2013


Image by Al Jazeera English via Flickr

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei described recent American offers of bilateral talks with Iran as tantamount to the US holding negotiations with a gun to the head.

The same apt metaphor, expressing the futility of conducting political talks under extreme duress, applies equally to the internal politics of Bahrain.

Today sees the beginning of yet another “national dialogue” in which the US-backed Al Khalifa regime has invited political opponents to – ostensibly – negotiate a solution to the country’s long-running crisis. The tiny Persian Gulf kingdom has been racked by daily political turmoil since a popular uprising erupted two years ago – on 14th February 2011.

Presumably, the regime now feels safe in holding discussions with the existing opposition parties – discussions within political parameters that have been bludgeoned by months of withering state terrorism and repression. The main opposition bloc, Al Wefaq, has already signaled that it is prepared to accept a revamped constitutional monarchy as part of a settlement. Notably, Washington and London have both been assiduously courting Wefaq to enter into the latest round of political talks with their surrogate, the Khalifa regime.

Meanwhile, more critical political opponents of the regime – who have wide support among the people – are locked up in prison, some serving life sentences on trumped-up charges of subversion. One of these leaders, Hassan Mushaima, is suffering from long-term illness that goes untreated. Another is Abduljalil Al Singace, who has just begun a hunger-strike along with other inmates. Other staunch political opponents, such as Saeed Shehabi, have been forced to live in exile.

These are the true voices of Bahrain’s political opposition who have called for the corrupt Khalifa regime to be sacked and banished, not entertained in any shape or form, to make way for a truly representative government elected by the people. But such voices will not be heard inside the Khalifa palace during Bahrain’s new round of “national dialogue.”

Predictably, the Western allies of the Bahraini regime, principally Washington and the old colonial ruler, Britain, have enthusiastically endorsed the latest political move. The reasons are self-serving and have nothing to do with finding a genuine democratic solution for the long-suffering people of Bahrain.

Indeed, the political talks are a subterfuge, really aimed at ensuring that democracy is denied. The Western governments – despite all their rhetoric about supporting democracy and human rights in the Middle East and elsewhere – are cynically well aware of the real anti-democratic objective in Bahrain. No doubt, they are the architects behind the sham political maneuver, which seeks to find “political compromise” – that is, “political cover” for continued misrule by Western-serving elites.

The current negotiations appear to be a magnanimous gesture from the Khalifa monarchy, reaching out to “its subject people”. This elite has ruled the oil-rich island as a corrupt family fiefdom ever since Britain granted nominal independence in 1971. The British imposed this dictatorship on the mainly Shia majority of Bahrain, and the Americans later became wedded to it, because the unelected elite – quaintly called a “constitutional monarchy” but in practice an absolute despot – was installed with the express purpose of serving the commercial and geopolitical interests of the Western powers, not the majority of Bahraini people. That imposter role continues very much to this day.

This is the same anti-democratic arrangement that prevails in Saudi Arabia and the other Persian Gulf oil sheikhdoms – all of them the illegitimate offspring of the conniving British Empire. And this is why democracy must not be allowed to succeed in Bahrain. Not now, not ever. The domino effect of democracy supplanting the Western-backed Persian Gulf dictatorships would be a disaster for Washington and London, the lynchpins of the petrodollar capitalist system.

Getting back to the issue of Bahrain’s new “national dialogue” and why it is bound to fail from the point of view of democracy, we can say this with certainty because the political talks are being conducted while the regime holds a gun to the head of the Bahraini people.

In fact, this is not a metaphor. Over the past two years, the Khalifa regime, led by King Hamad, has murdered, maimed and tortured thousands of Bahrainis, who have done nothing more than peacefully protest for the establishment of a democratic government. This regime is not interested in rights or law. How could it be when it has and continues to violate every precept and person it finds a threat to its barbarous rule? This regime is in no way willing to account for its crimes against the people. It has made clear that it has no intention of implementing the reasonable recommendations of the international Bassoon Report issued more than a year ago, calling for the release of all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.

The Al Khalifa potentate retains a self-styled royal prerogative to commit crimes on a massive scale with impunity; sending its security forces into Bahraini villages to shoot indiscriminately at peaceful protesters, poison people to death in their homes with chemical gases, and to smash their way into houses to drag away occupants to unknown torture dungeons. Human rights activists and journalists, who bear witness to these violations, are likewise persecuted, gagged, harassed and jailed.

The vicious repression of the Khalifa royal dictatorship continues unabated precisely because Washington and London have turned a blind eye to its crimes. Not just turned a blind eye; the Western governments have actively supported the Khalifa thugs with copious supplies of crowd-control weaponry and affording the crucial cover of ongoing normal diplomatic and commercial relations.

The complete de facto absence of rule of law in Bahrain and the thuggish suzerainty of unelected despots is not some aberration of Western governments. This is how these governments prefer and need political business to be run in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere. Fascism is the optimum model of Western capitalism, as practiced in the Persian Gulf (and increasingly practiced in fully fledged form back home in the US and Britain.)

Thus, a democratic resolution to Bahrain’s political crisis will not be achieved by the latest negotiations because the perpetrators of mass murder and injustice remain cozily embedded, by necessity for Western patronage.

In Syria, where regime change is desired for expedient self-serving reasons, the arrogant Western governments, without justification, call for President Assad to stand down. Yet the same stricture is not even mooted by these powers when it comes to the truly despotic Bahraini regime. Why? Because regime change in Bahrain and the Persian Gulf is far from desired; the more despotic the better to uphold Western strategic interests.

The Khalifa dynasty retains all its corrupt dictatorial powers bequeathed by Britain and sustained ever since by Washington. The new “dialogue” is simply a cynical charade to conceal this. The very fact that the rulers – or more accurately their Western masters – called for the negotiations indicates that the process is framed to ensure that the regime will, in effect, stay in power, not to find a genuine democratic settlement.

The status quo may have to undergo a cosmetic revamp, re-branded as a “new constitutional monarchy”, and there may follow formal elections. But such a compromise that allows a despotic regime to persist within the political fabric is not a worthy compromise. It is a squalid cop-out. What really needs to be done is for this regime to be prosecuted for crimes against the people, crimes not just committed over the past two years, but over the past four decades.

This is, of course, why Washington and London are backing the dialogue charade, as they have done with previous regime-led initiatives, because these Western governments know that the purpose of the negotiations is to ensure that their Bahraini tyrant-client will remain safely ensconced in power. The regime provides the US with a base for its Navy Fifth Fleet and is an important staging post for Western militarism across the Middle East, as well as being used as a bulwark against Iran’s influence in the vital oil-producing region.

Perhaps more importantly, the Khalifa regime is a bulwark against democracy and the rule of law becoming established in the Persian Gulf. That would present a mortal threat to the geopolitical interests of Washington and London. For these capitalist powers, democracy is simply anathema. For them, the Persian Gulf must remain, at all costs, a feudal backwater ruled by tyrants and unelected despots, who prop up the destructive petrodollar global system and who buy billions of dollars worth of Western weaponry, all in implacable opposition to the democratic needs of the people. (The Western public also needs to realize -and realize quickly – this ugly nature of their so-called governments. For the same oppressive dictatorial measures for satiating the unelected capitalist elite are being applied increasingly to them as well. )

In a very real way, the gun being held to the head of the Bahraini people is ultimately being held by Washington and London.

Will these nefarious powers succeed in their intimidation against democracy? That will be determined by the mass of Bahraini people who refuse the sham offer of negotiations within the constricting and stifling comforts of the Khalifa palace. Despite the Western-backed state terrorism over the past two years, these noble people know that their right for democratic freedom will eventually be won – the hard way – on the streets by bravely facing down the regime’s police thugs. They have sacrificed and suffered too much already to give up now; and the blood and love of their martyrs will sustain them in the struggle for victory.

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


[DS added the videos.]

US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain

PressTVGlobalNews·Feb 10, 2013

The US Fifth Fleet is a major US naval base which is anchored off Bahrain. It provides protection to the Bahraini royal family and also ensures US dominance of the Persian Gulf, one of the world’s major energy producing areas and transit routes.

What is the strategic importance of the US Fifth Fleet to the Americans and the Bahrainis? What effect does it have on neighboring countries?

We will also cover the weekly news events in this episode which will be determined by the news agenda, but it is likely that we will look ahead to the second anniversary of the Bahraini revolution on February 14.


Western imperialism curbs Bahrainis struggle for democracy: Don De Bar

PressTVGlobalNews·Feb 10, 2013

An analyst says the Bahraini uprising against a despotic regime is a vanguard for other countries and at the forefront of the fight for democracy against imperialism. In the background of this a mass sit-in has been held in Bahrain ahead of the second anniversary of its popular rebellion against the ruling despotic regime and against its occupiers the United States and Saudi Arabia in the people’s demand for democracy. Press TV has interviewed Don De Bar, anti-war activist and journalist, New York about this issue.


International Media Coverage of Bahrain Revolution + Inside Bahrain

Bahrain: The Forgotten Uprising

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

Bahrain Exposes Western Political and Moral Bankruptcy by Finian Cunningham

Bahrain Bans Protests After Cops Tear Gas and Fire On Rally

Videos on Bahrain

21 thoughts on “Bahraini Regime Holds Gun To Head In ‘Negotiations’ by Finian Cunningham

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  6. Hi David,

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a comprehensive comment with many thought-provoking points. I am not familiar with the reports and the Gene Sharp documentary you cite. Unfortunately, where I am based the internet is so slow it makes viewing such links impractical.

    I think what the US/British foreign policy in the Persian Gulf and Bahrain in particular illustrates the real priorities of these governments. In a very real way, the general public of the US, Britain and other Western states are indebted to the people of Bahrain in their struggle for democracy. This is because thanks to their suffering and struggle, the people of the West are confronted sharply and succinctly with the truth behind the rhetoric of Washington and London. Obama and Cameron espouse support for democratic rights, human rights, international law and claim to be on the side of the popular movements for democracy in the Arab Spring. This is the usual mantra of Western governments down through the decades. Often such rhetoric can be disorientating and illusory. It can be hard sometimes to proove its veracity or genuineness. It can be bamboozling and dissembling. Such rhetoric can disarm and obscure, deflate and inveigle with its seductive feelgood appeal. That has the effect of diminishing critical awareness among the mass of ordinary Western people. It is, in short, propaganda that works to make people impotent and ignorant.

    But what we can see clearly in Bahrain is the truth of Western government policy. Not the rhetoric, but the awful reality through practice and priorities. I think it is definitively, irrefutably clear that Western governments are exposed in Bahrain as being opposed to democracy. Simple as that. Democratic freedom and control of national resources by the people are anathema to the Western governments. Washington and London are seen to be definitely not on the side of democracy and the people, but on the side of tyrants and dictatorship. This is a truth that Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the other Western-backed Persian Gulf oil monarchies show us. This truth is about the nature of supposed Western democracy, that the claims of supporting, no, being the very incarnation of democracy, are patently false. We live in capitalist dictatorships, not democracies, where the ruling class are most comfortable colluding with dictatorships abroad, as in Bahrain.

    Applying that lesson back home, it is an eye opener and a powerful explanation about the nature of Western governments and their economic policies, for example. We can vote for this or that party but in practice and increasingly we see that these parties are servants for the dictatorship of elite corporate and financial power. We are kidding ourselves that under present circumstances we are living in democracies. But such sobreity and rude awakening is good. It is vital for effectiing the necessary change.

    As for changing this for the better for the common good, I think this will only come about when the mass of people break from the servile party system and illusory notion of democracy and begin to organise a party or parties that are truly independent – that represent the material interests of the majority of working or non-working people. I contend that it is futile to attempt reform of the present system, as you seem to suggest. I believe that only revolutionary change as directed by the organised mass of people will effect the necessary change, control of the vast economic resources and thereby harnesss improvements in every sphere of public life. I believe that such a manifesto is best defined by “socialism”. And I believe that if we can organise society and resources in a genuinely democratic system of serving the greater common good (socialism) and meeting the genuine human need, instead of the anarchy of elite greed, then we will begin to also solve many of the ecological problems that emanate from wasteful profit-driven consumption and overproduction.

    What is going on in Bahrain is a seminal expose of not just the Western governments’ deception and destructive role in Bahrain, the Persian Gulf and the Arab World. It serves to show us, in North America and Europe, what it is we need to do to free ourselves from oppression. In that way, we owe the people of Bahrain a debt of gratitude.

    There are of course many other episodes in history that can likewise teach if we care to look with honesty and open mind. The Western collusion with Pinochet in Chile, the genocide that the US carried out in Vietnam, the deathsquads Washington ran in Central America, Iraq, Libya, currently Syria, the repressive murder machine that Britain deployed in Northern Ireland. These are but a few of history’s many, many lessons that can show us the real nature of Western governments and their poltiical and moral bankruptcy. What their real priorites are, not their pretentious paeans. Bahrain is just a timely and particularly forceful lens to this truth again. It has added significance because of the contemporary repression that is also being unleashed across the US, Britain and Europe by the ruling classes against the ordinary, working people of those countries.

    I hope that addresses some of your points. And thanks again for your evident compassionate concern for fellow man. Much appreciated.


    • The sentiment is reciprocated, and your generous acknowledgment most welcome. (You may not however agree with my observations about the “Black Pope!…)

      To cut to the chase: I have been trying to grapple with the deep systemic obstacles to real change. The aged Gene Sharp identified 198 non-violent methods, peaceful “weapons,” that have proved to be very effective evidently. My view essentially is this: once we dispatch obvious (proxy) tyranny we must still confront the “inverted totalitarianism” defined by Sheldon Wolin, that Chris Hedges describes so eloquently. It is of course a profoundly moral question, that in practice must devolve to the ethical praxis of instruments of state, and also the global methodologies of trade, stake-holding, shares and commerce and their impacts on local and indigenous livelihoods, needs and ecosystems.

      It is indeed right to define the problem in ecological terms, and I am hugely in favour of this paradigm; but when it comes to the mechanisms and reflexive behaviours that govern markets at every level from the (often criminal) local ground and village arms bazaars “up” to the inflated artifice of Wall St with its Pentagon budgets, it requires remarkable insight and ingenuity to bring fresh ideas to the table. The root dilemma is how to implement accountable governance at every nodal point, without endless reiterations of regulatory bureaucracy choking the life out of everything, or conversely piously sanctioning all “beneficial” activity. Who will be the judge?

      I have only just grasped the significance of our extraordinary American octogenarian Gene Sharp’s massively influential work on non-violent protest (due entirely to the widespread chance dissemination of his radical treatise From Dictatorship to Democracy over many years.) His importance cannot be overstated it seems, and the impact of his ideas is evidently of immense relevance now, since his strategy and tactics have been methodically adopted and used everywhere (it has now quite recently emerged, mostly due to the film How To Start a Revolution) going way back to Burma.

      He has shown how to successfully undermine tyrannies, but once these velvet revolutions actually succeed and the pillars that support these regimes collapse, we are still left with the task of constructive reform; and that is what concerns me now the most, since the root axis of the global system is so profoundly established as you point out so well, in our own back-yards here in the “West.”

      How do we get the whole “organon” of sophisticated (actually pretty plug-ugly, in my view) business and “security!!” better organised and aligned with the realities that you and I and so many others, recognize as quintessential to the survival and well-being of earth-life?

      Can we reinvent the ethical wheel of commerce and shape its political spokes to serve not crush us all in the process?

      I believe the answer is yes, but the how is the real challenge, and it is a task that is growing exponentially more urgent by the hour literally.

  7. Excellent article, as usual from Finian.

    I’ve been thinking a great deal about Gene Sharp’s legacy and cumulative global influence, and the BAFTA award winning 2011 (Scottish) documentary How To Start a Revolution.

    Now Finian spells out the truth for us in unambiguous neon script, but the question is how do we bring about the “revolutionary/evolutionary” change we want to see in both London and Washington, that he makes so abundantly clear still form the axis of this omnivorous Western empire. What needs to change “at home?” Clearly we need to convene new institutions of power with real accountability, but how to re-educate the old guard out of their money-lined presumptive control? Is it possible to change these hearts and minds? Do they even have hearts? Are their minds at all capable of reflexive learning?

    Starting in the US, I would say the first job is obviously to reform Congress, & the way business is done on Capitol Hill, to jam that cursed revolving door for good. The second task is to invite the intelligence community to accept the fact that it is not that intelligent ~ clever maybe, but not smart enough to survive the next epoch of biosphere change, or arguably negotiate the likelihood of a sixth extinction spasm. The big question is, do these guys really “know” anything important or is it all sophist power-brokerage and business-as-usual bullshit? Have they ever heard about the consequences of logging in the Congo?

    Bringing the (organic, free-range) chickens home to roost in the City of London, we face a not entirely dissimilar but altogether another type of challenge ~ not a simple nor obvious matter in Byzantine Britain, as the lines of allegiance run deep and this underground mycelial mat can pop up its fruiting bodies in surprising places, like the councils of the Vatican for example. Here in Blighty, the old elitist ways are deeply embedded and stained very blue. Two interesting documents were published recently that cast a good deal of light on both these hemispheres of the trans-Atlantic neural network.

    The first is the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030 “Alternative Worlds” ~ what a charming turn of phrase, as Harold Bloom might say. The other is the Chatham House report “Resources Futures.”

    Perhaps predictably, but disappointingly, neither of these think-tank syntheses seem to make any reference to more progressive ecological visions like Lester Brown’s “Plan B” for example or Resources Futures only mentions: Earth Policy Institute. ‘Annual Solar Photovoltaics Production by Country, 1995–2010;’ and Alternative Worlds is arranged in such a way as to baffle the average academic reader, with no bibliographies or any kind of comprehensive index, so I have not been able to ascertain yet whether there is any input there from Amory Lovins for example.

    I propose to study both these specimens of officialdom’s orthodoxy in more detail therefore.

    Should any Dandelion Salad readers who have sufficient time on their hands to comment on the respective contents of these docs in the Open Forum ~ if Lo is agreeable ~ I for one should welcome their independent opinions.

      • That’s great Lo. Thank you! I think some analysis of this type of corporate intelligence might yield useful insights…

        You must know about Gene Sharp’s work? I have to say I didn’t have a clue; it was eye-opening news to me, clearly he has been unjustly maligned and misread in some reactionary quarters. I think Global Research, Engdahl and others may have been infected by Iranian spin and invested in some unwarranted (actually groundless) speculation. Time to re-evaluate, reflect and reassess what is really known perhaps, and by whom…the great Satan America is behind it all, y’know pulling every string, I don’t buy it; they’re just not that smart or joined up.

        If you’ve not clocked it, there’s a 52 min preview of the award winning doc about Gene Sharp available ~

        Also, in case you need that fine link to Benjamin Carson’s prayer breakfast game-changer ~

        • Thanks so much for this Lo.

          Yes I get it! ~ so should we all. Joel Hirschhorn gave a clear account (this was before I started to read your posts regularly) & his first link in the article is also worth a visit

          With a “virtual” white-out in progress, and such a blizzard of information swirling around, it is not surprising how inadequate and misinformed the attention on Sharp has been. The doc How to Start a Revolution has really flagged his work up large now, so we may expect predictably mixed consequences, as always.

          I have replied to Finian above. I am trying to encourage a more nuanced and subtle grasp of the strengths and weaknesses of the institutional architectures of (Western) power, to identify the crucial anatomical acupoints, as I think these will be where we shall need to apply just the right amount of pressure. Benjamin Carson’s speech in Washington, I feel, was such a critical nodal point event.

        • Thank you for posting this vital material Lo.

          I think the inference may be that opportunistic “intelligence” interests will always try to appropriate any advantage, to spin the implications and sow optimal confusion and/or confidence on the ground; planting certainty, doubt and duplicity, all at the same time while furthering their own frequently ambiguous agendas, covertly. The point is, we know these agendas and whose interests they serve and why they predominate.

          This is territory rife with subterfuge, bluff, even self-deception, ambivalence and counterfuge (for want of a better term.) It stands to reason that “Western Intelligence” (sui generis) will be familiar with Sharp’s work and use it, given its celebrated status and the adoption of his strategic principles among these diverse groups. They will be infiltrated and individuals “turned.”

          Any weapon may be deployed in two ways. There is always psychological jujitsu at work.

          The distinction between Gandhi’s ideas as symbolist rather than as an ethical praxis, is that in practice they must be lived as a Yoga of intent, not just affected in theory by media posturing in a theatrical spectacle, or to persuade someone by covert deception.

          A convincing agent actually has to believe in what they are purporting to be ~ double, triple, provocateur, whatever; they must internalise that self-awareness, like a method actor in real life. But the acid test of authenticity is something that cannot be faked, even to oneself.

          It is impossible to detect however, except by instinct or the fact of one “in the know.” Hence the crucial need for constant “exposure through disclosure.” It is much harder for a even a fake whistle-blower to sustain a deception once they are under public scrutiny.

          Everything is made much simpler when we understand the specific links in these chains of cause and effect. Then the criteria for truth and well-being shift onto another plane of understanding; where intention is everything, cognitive empathy thrives, accountability has meaning, imaginative resources are open, and ecological principles are revered in the most practical terms..

        • Lo, I have no problem with that, it’s your prerogative after all. I hope it didn’t distract your focus. I think it is helpful to have Sharp’s contribution acknowledged in the mix though, as grist for the mill. I’d like to see the whole of that film. I’d also be interested in Hedges’ opinion.

          Gene Sharp’s work dates back to 1973, so the fact that these ideas have been appropriated and likely misused for the nefarious purposes of covert US “interests” would be less than surprising.

        • Lo thanks for these links, it all needs careful study. Chomsky endorsed Sharp’s position as you know.

          We are actually dealing with two-edged swords here, I suspect. It’s a similar scenario to the psychedelic revolution. Ambiguous & complex.

          The means may remain disputed, the methods prone to elements of controlled opposition. All we can usefully evaluate perhaps are the contextual results, and this takes time…

        • True enough, but then any spiritual directive, by its very definition, will be radical. The problem for humans is how to educate ourselves to the point that we can distinguish religious authenticity from pious fraud or outright deceit ~ that some “new age” pundits clearly exploit to the max.

          This, in my view, is the real challenge. It is also a conundrum, because even if, on principle, we accept a given moral/philosophical/religious position, we must then interpret it aright so far as our actions are concerned.

          Most people can embrace the idea that heart-centred experience determines our emotional life and is the most effective means of internalising metaphysical intuition, but the mind is not so organically imminent. Indeed for some the mind exists independently of our bodily reality.

          So I am persuaded that a holistic approach to deep spirituality must entail cognitive training, and a comprehensively inclusive process of symbolic integration. Once we grasp this, the political implications become clearer as our balanced understanding deepens, and we can refine our perceptions ~ less prone therefore to prejudice or to wishful thinking.

        • I must say, it does smell quite suspect, well embedded by those accounts.

          If we can be certain there is disinformation or deception involved, then this technique has either been all along under that clandestine imprimatur, or been appropriated, or has conveniently mutated into a carefully disguised strategic “asset” of the corporate-directed foreign policy juggernaut.

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