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Sunday, October 16, 2011

U.S., monarchy obstruct Bahrainis’ quest for liberty

Arabian oil fields
Under protest, U.S. Fifth Fleet occupies, monarchy divides and suppresses by military force
Edited excerpt, added text 
by Carolyn Bennett
From American University professor Kristin Diwan’s commentary “The Failed Revolution” presented at the March 31, 2011, Middle East Policy Council round table “Governance, Human Rights and American Interests in Bahrain”
Persian Gulf - Major oil fields
Britannica image

PERSIAN GULF (Arabian Gulf)
A shallow marginal sea of the Indian Ocean that
Lies between the Arabian Peninsula and southwestern Iran
Bordered on the north, northeast and east by Iran;
On the southeast and south by part of Oman and by the United Arab Emirates;
On the southwest and west by Qatar, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia; and
On the northwest by Kuwait and Iraq
The term Persian Gulf sometimes refers not only to Persian Gulf proper but
Also to its outlets —
The Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, which open into the Arabian Sea

Inviting in GCC troops to Bahrain to crack down on protesters, the Al-Khalifa regime subsumed protesters’ legitimate democratic demands within a vast Iranian conspiracy and elevated the narrative to the international level, Dr. Diwan writes.

The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (CCASG) or Cooperation Council (GCC) is a political and economic union of the Arab states bordering the Persian Gulf and constituting the Arabian Peninsula, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.

Arabian Peninsula and Sea
“Unfortunately for Bahrain’s democracy movement,” she says, “the Iranian threat [was] seen as plausible by many in the Sunni minority in Bahrain and by the broader Sunni majority in the Gulf, particularly in the shadow of the hardliner regime headed by Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

“… This outcome is bad for everyone involved.

“It is ultimately bad for Bahrain, which has lost all of the political gains made in King Hamad’s reform period and may soon lose the economic gains that accompanied them.
The parliament is effectively defunct having lost a near majority of its members who resigned in protest at the crackdown.
…The environment of intimidation and fear being created in Bahrain today is totally unsuitable for its key industries of tourism and finance which require openness and stability.
By relying on Saudi Arabia and the GCC for both military and financial support, the ruling al-Khalifa have sacrificed their hard fought independence and surrendered much of their sovereignty.”
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, son of Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa (1950 Crown Prince) and Hessa bint Salman Al Khalifa, has been king of Bahrain since 2002. Before that, he was Emir (commander, general, prince) after his father.

Hamad studied at Cambridge in Britain then underwent military training, first with the British Army at Mons Officer Cadet School at Aldershot in Hampshire (1968) then at the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas (1972).

“This outcome is bad for the Gulf region, which desperately needs the creative engagement of its youth in order to weather the current period of demographic growth,” Diwan says.

Island of Bahrain
“… This outcome is bad for the United States, whose interests lie in the reform of the Gulf monarchies, with an eye to their long-term stability and to minimizing Iranian transnational influence within the Gulf States. The best way to do this is to integrate fully the Shia communities as citizens within genuinely constitutional monarchies. …

“To better ensure their future, Gulf monarchies should be cooperating on new institutions to effectively channel democratic aspirations — not collaborating to suppress domestic dissent.

“Unfortunately, the current trend is in the opposite direction: Gulf monarchies are amplifying sectarian divisions in order to resist moves towards democratic reforms.

“… [T]he repercussion in reform deferred and sectarianism unleashed may be as consequential for the Gulf and as it is for America’s standing in the Gulf.”

Arabian oil fields
Sources and notes

 “The Failed Revolution” (Kristin Smith Diwan commentary), March 31, 2011, http://www.mepc.org/articles-commentary/commentary/failed-revolution
Excerpt from American University professor Kristin Diwan’s commentary “The Failed Revolution” was presented at the March 31, 2011, Middle East Policy Council round table “Governance, Human Rights and American Interests in Bahrain.”

Kristin Diwan

Coordinator for Middle East Studies, SIS-CRS, and Co-Director of MES@AU Initiative, Dr. Diwan is a professor of Comparative and Regional Studies in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C.

She holds regional expertise in the politics and policies of the Arab Gulf, and functional expertise on Islamic finance and the politics surrounding it. Her particular interests revolve around the political economy of Islamism— specifically, how Islamic political movements build support and further social Islamization through the economy. Dr. Diwan’s most recent project entails researching the social and institutional origins of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Gulf region. Work in progress includes a book about the rise of Islamic finance, entitled From Petrodollars to Islamic Dollars: Islamic Finance in the Arab Gulf.

Dr. Diwan holds doctorate and master’s degrees in political science and international studies, http://www.american.edu/sis/faculty/diwan.cfm

Encyclopedic ref for added explanatory text

Maps Britannica

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