Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bahrain: No conflict. Plenty of interest

The strategic interests of the US, Britain and France and the values they uphold appeared in stark contrast

The Guardian, Friday 18 February 2011

"On Tuesday President Barack Obama found it ironic that an Iranian regime which had celebrated the popular uprising in Egypt had gunned down and beaten Iranians demonstrating peacefully. Two days later the boot was on the other foot. Security forces in Bahrain, a kingdom the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, described in December as a model partner for the US, gunned down protesters, some in their sleep, assaulted doctors who came to their aid, and beat anyone they came into contact with. Women and children were not spared....

Once again, the strategic interests of the US, Britain and France and the values they uphold as universal rights appeared in stark contrast to each other. There can be no doubt that the tiny island kingdom in the Gulf is a strategic interest. Manama is home of the US fifth fleet, whose main task is to protect Saudi oil installations and the Gulf waterways. Both view the ruling al-Khalifa family as instrumental in containing Iran, which has long claimed the island as its territory. If the US ever grew cold on its ally, the Saudi kingdom never would. Neither power would permit regime change in Bahrain. There is simply too much at stake. But that is what the majority of Bahraini opposition may now have in mind. Before yesterday's police brutalities, their main demands were a constitution written by an elected assembly and the release of political prisoners. Most of them did not demand that King Hamad al-Khalifa himself should go. They do now......

.....Before the spectre of Iran is invoked (and there is no evidence yet of its involvement in the Bahraini protest), it is worth remembering that none of the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya or Yemen have been particularly Islamic in nature. The generation demanding basic political rights are interested not in ideology, but in an end to tyranny and corruption. It should be clear where the west's interests lie."

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