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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Vested in repression — U.S.-Bahrain, Syria relations

Bahraini people
protest tyranny
Crimes against the peace, against the people
Editing, comment by Carolyn Bennett

WHY the people suffer

Hillary Clinton at State and Barack Obama at the White House seem to take pride in killing, proudly pushing weapons on tyrannical kingdoms engaged in brutal repression against “their own people” — all the while fantasying themselves champions of somebody’s democracy, freedom, and human rights.

If this state of affairs, this belligerent incompetence, this insensible immorality and lawlessness were not so terribly sad, it would be funny.

A Psychotic diplomacy

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attacks Syrian leader:

We think Assad must go … The sooner the better for everyone concerned… We want to send a very clear message to the people inside Syria … we want to see an inclusive democratic Syria where members of every ethnic group, every religion are given a chance to be full citizens [ABC U.S. interview, April 1, 2012].

[What Syrians demanded that the U.S. president or secretary of state step down in the name of  their notion of democracy? ] 

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice to UN Security Council attacks UN Envoy Kofi Annan’s Syrian peace mission

The Syrian people, like us, know that the deployment of 300 or even 3,000 unarmed observers cannot on its own stop the Assad regime from waging its barbaric campaign of violence against the Syrian people ….  Continued and intensified external pressure on the Assad regime’ [is] … the best way to halt the violence.

[What is the Syrian head of state called U.S. officials barbaric (is that even civil language for a "diplomat") and what if Assad called for the overthrow of the U.S. government?]

U.S. Department of State's entrenched, flawed relations

Adoring Dynasty
In Washington, D.C., May 9, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton poses with Crown Prince of Bahrain Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland pushing arms to tyrants, against Bahraini protesters

“‘… We have decided to release additional items [ arms] and services for the Bahrain Defense Force, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard for the purpose of helping Bahrain maintain its external defense capabilities.’”

Speaking anonymously to CNN, “Two U.S. officials” reportedly said on May 11, the day of the State Department announcement, that weapons included in the U.S. sale to Bahrain were “air-to-air missiles designed to offer interoperability [?] between the two countries’ militaries.”

Agent Nuland had justified this crime against the peace and the people, saying, “‘Bahrain is an important security partner and ally in a region facing enormous challenges. Maintaining our and our partners’ ability to respond to these challenges is a critical component of our commitment to Gulf security.’”

[How can a country justify murdering defenseless people who never have and never will harm you? You can't.] 

Background: Bahrain, Western “allies”
This small Arab state (“al-bahrayn” meaning ‘two seas’) situated in one of the world’s chief oil-producing regions, in a bay on the southwestern coast of the Persian Gulf: an archipelago (an expanse of water with scattered islands) consists of Bahrain Island and some 30 smaller islands.

Many years ago, the strategic importance of these islands was recognized and exploited. Bahrain has been settled and colonized by various groups, including the Khalifah family, an Arab dynasty that has ruled Bahrain since the late 18th century. The Khalifah family opened Bahrain’s port facilities to the naval fleets of foreign countries, including the United States.

Britain and Britain

Monarch to Monarch
Elizabeth - Khalifah
Britain intervened in Bahrain several times beginning in the early 19th century. In 1861, Britain and Bahrain’s Arab chief completed “a treaty by which the sheikh agreed to refrain from ‘the prosecution of war, piracy, or slavery.’” As protectorate [occupier], Britain assumed responsibility for Bahrain’s defense and foreign relations with major powers. The government of British India briefly in 1947 assumed Britain’s responsibilities but with India’s independence, Britain resumed the protectorate.

In 1968, Britain withdrew its military forces and Sheikh Isa ibn Sulman Al Khalifah proclaimed Bahrain’s independence (August 1971). A treaty with the UK ended the British protectorate. Sheikh Īsa became Bahrain’s ruler and the country joined the United Nations and the Arab League.

Khalifah (Al Khalifa) dynasty (Bahrain)
Tyrant's coat of armsAl Khalifah

The Al Khalifa family (Arabic: Al Khalifah / English: The house of Khalifa, founded in 1766) is the ruling royal family of Bahrain.

The current head of the family is Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who became the Emir of Bahrain in 1999 and in 2002 proclaimed himself King of Bahrain.

As of 2010, roughly half of the serving cabinet ministers of Bahrain have been selected from the Al Khalifa royal family, while the country’s only Prime Minister, Khalifah bin Salman al-Khalifah (serving since independence in 1971), is also from the Al Khalifa family and is the uncle of the current King (Britannica) (Wikipedia)

Vested: USA in Bahrain (a chronology)

The U.S. embassy at Bahrain’s chief city, port, and capital, Manama: September 21, 1971 –
U.S. ambassador ensconced:  1974-
Bahrain embassy established in Washington, D.C.: 1977-
Emir Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa’s state visit to Washington: 1991
Bahrain-United States Defense Cooperation Agreement granting U.S. forces access to Bahraini facilities and ensuring the right to pre-position material for future crises: October 1991

After a 48-year hiatus (1945-1995): United States Fifth Fleet reactivated (replaces COMMIDEASTFOR), directing operations in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and the coast off East Africa as far south as Kenya. Its headquarters are at NSA Bahrain located in Manama, Bahrain (Garrison/HQ: Naval Support Activity Bahrain): 1995-

Emir Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s first visit to the United States: 2001; official visit to Washington: 2003

United States designates Bahrain: “Major Non-NATO Ally”: 2001

King Hamad’s official visit to Washington, meets with U.S. President George W. Bush and his Cabinet: 2004

Crown Prince of Bahrain Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa visit Washington, meets with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: May 9, 2012

HOW they suffer
Khalifah repression
U.S. contributes to rights abuse

Silencing the messengers

According to reports by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, journalists have been “targets of government repression since pro-democracy protests began” last year in Bahrain.

Exiled Bahraini journalist Nada al-Wadi wrote this week, “Since the beginning of protests in February 2011, [Bahrain’s rulers have imposed] restrictions on journalists, proving that freedom of speech and the press in Bahrain has always been a fiction. In little over a year, the crackdown on the press has managed to turn the clock back 10 years – to the 1975 State Security Law and a government that enjoyed powers to summarily arrest and detain its citizens without trial.”

Al-Wadi said, “One of the clearest (and most dire) changes over the past year has been the disappearance of independent voices in traditional media outlets (newspapers, television and radio).

“Local television and radio channels rarely report on ongoing demonstrations, as the government has repeatedly denied licenses to any private channels,” she said.

“Six of the seven daily newspapers are pro-government and regularly describe the protests as acts of terrorism and sabotage. These include the widely read Al-Ayyam, Gulf News, which is owned by the prime minister and publishes in both Arabic and English. Bahrain’s newest daily, Al-Balad, is also close to the prime minister; and Al-Watan is infamous for its hostile depictions of all opposition to the government.”

In a report published last summer at al-Jazeera, Matthew Cassel said, “Bahraini writers, journalists, academics, novelists, poets, bloggers, and others have been targets of state repression since pro-democracy protests began in February.”

Aiding in the repression are “pro-government groups” who have posted on various websites “the names and pictures of individuals ‘wanted’ by the state.  Many were labeled ‘traitors.’ Many were accused of ‘inciting violence’ and ‘promoting sectarianism.’”

In a March 2012 report on conditions in the island country, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights begged the U.S. and Europe to cease weapons sales and help end censorship.

“Because of the likely use of U.S.-origin military equipment by the Bahrain Defense Force against protesters marching to the Pearl Roundabout on February 18, 2011, and by Saudi troops who entered Bahrain to crush the movement,” the report recommended that “the EU and U.S. should cease military sales to Bahrain that could be used to repress the Bahraini people.

“There should be an international moratorium on the lethal use of birdshot and tear gas against civilians if not a ban of sales of such weaponry to governments like the Bahraini government that have fatally used them against their own people.”

On censorship, the report asked “the European Union and the United States to challenge censorship practices under bilateral trade agreements with Bahrain”; and, because potential loss of trade provides a strong incentive for Bahrain to ease censorship of online content and services, “to present to the World Trade Organization a case against Internet censorship.”

Protests in London
Crimes against the peace across Persian Gulf

In today’s news from Persia, Iran’s Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei reportedly said, “Recent developments in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria indicate new schemes aimed at dominating the Persian Gulf and taking control of the region’s oil and gas.”

Indicative of a regional schism and deep distrust of the West, a representative of a Bahraini Shiite leader suggested that “Saudi Arabia and the United States” were “trying to gain access to the military bases in Bahrain to apply pressure on Iran.”

The author and Chicago radio host Stephan Lendman said yesterday on Press TV that “What is going on in Syria has got nothing to do with an uprising [and] everything to do with a

Washington/Western-generated, NATO, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon’s March 14 alliance-involved insurgency to replace [Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad] with a pro-Western puppet regime.

The United States as well as its Western and Arab allies, the analyst summarized, are involved in an “insurgency” in order to replace the Syrian leader with a “pro-Western puppet regime.”

Commenting yesterday on recent news reports that U.S.-Allied Saudi Arabia was planning to annex Bahrain, Sheikh Abdullah al-Dabbaq in an exclusive interview with the Iranian News Agency (IRNA) said, “Saudi Arabia is seeking “to legitimize its criminal acts and policies in Bahrain through taking over the sovereignty of the Persian Gulf country”; however, “Riyadh [Saudi Arabia’s capital] is ignorant of the fact that the Bahraini nation and scholars are vigilant and will never allow it to implement its plan.”

Bahraini protesters have been holding anti-regime demonstrations despite recent constitutional amendments ratified by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on May 3, which give the elected parliament power to reject the government and its programs.

Bahrainis protest tyranny
Two days before the scheduled 13th session of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of rights records of 14 countries including Bahrain, Press TV is reporting regime forces attacking anti-regime demonstrators in the western village of Shahrakan, Bahrain; and U.S.-allied Saudi Arabia-backed Bahraini forces continuing their “violent crackdowns on peaceful anti-regime demonstrations.” The rights review will be held in Geneva from May 21 to June 4.

Perpetual chaos, perpetual war
U.S. in Middle East, South Central Asia

U.S drone plane
The U.S. is waging permanent wars, Stephan Lendman said. And as in Pakistan and throughout the region wherever the United States invades and or occupies the charges and counter charges fly, from West to East and back again. And truth amid violence and division, chaos and conflict is hard to discern.

Is this too much to ask?
I don't think so.
United Nations observers in Syria, presumably following a seemingly well-intended peace plan of UN Envoy Kofi Annan, say “violence has been significantly reduced in areas where observers have been deployed.”

Western officials, on the other hand, reference a “Syrian opposition” charging the Syrian government with continuous killings. And the government in Damascus blames “‘outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups’ for the unrest and insists that the violence is being orchestrated from abroad.”

Sources and notes

U.S. diplomats on Syria and Bahrain

U.S. Secretary State on Syria, April 1, 2012, http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/secretary-hillary-clinton-syrian-president-assad/story?id=16049737#.T7gGpkXY9PE

“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Crown Prince of Bahrain Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa shake hands at the State Department, on May 9, 2012 in Washington, D.C. Secretary Clinton and the Crown Prince participated in a bilateral meeting on bi-lateral regional issues. (Getty Images), Arabian Business dot com May 10, 2012, http://www.arabianbusiness.com/photos/hillary-clinton-meets-with-crown-prince-of-bahrain-457375.html

“U.S. resumes arms sales to Bahrain” (Elise Labott):  The United States will resume some arms sales to Bahrain after suspending them amid the country’s crackdown on protesters, the State Department announced Friday,” May 11, 2012,  http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/11/u-s-resumes-arms-sales-to-bahrain/

“The U.S. is highly skeptical about the likely success of UN-authorized observers forcing an end to violence in Syria, and is warning it may not back the mission's renewal after 90 days.…  Her remarks came after the UN Security Council, in a resolution sponsored by Russia and China, agreed to send up to 300 unarmed military observers to Syria to monitor a ceasefire between the government and rebels” (Brad Norington, Washington Correspondent From: The Australian( April 23, 2012, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/susan-rice-warns-un-on-syria-mission/story-e6frg6so-1226335585515

“Syria: U.S. Running out of Patience, as UN Agrees to 300 Ceasefire Monitors U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the Council after it unanimously adopted the Russian drafted resolution authorizing the official UN observer mission, April 22, 2012, http://www.talkradionews.com/united-nations/2012/04/22/syria-us-runs-out-of-patience-as-un-agrees-to-300-ceasefire-monitors.html

Further background: Bahrain, Fifth Fleet

Bahrain continued
Bahrain’s chief city, port, and capital, Manama (Al-Manāmah), is located on the northeastern tip of Bahrain Island.

… Roughly two-thirds of the population is Arab, and most are native-born Bahrainis, but some are Palestinians, Omanis, or Saudis. Foreign-born inhabitants, comprising more than one-third of the population, are mostly from Iran, India, Pakistan, Britain, and the United States. About three-fifths of the labor force is foreign.

Several weekly and daily papers are published in Arabic, and a small number appear in English. Most of the press is privately owned and is not subject to censorship as long as it refrains from criticizing the ruling family. The state television and radio stations broadcast most programs in Arabic, although there are channels in English.

The American Mission Hospital affiliated with the National Evangelical Church has operated continuously in Bahrain for more than a century. Since 1947, Bahrain has been a base for United States naval activity in the Persian Gulf. When Bahrain became independent, the U.S.-Bahrain relationship was formalized with the establishment of diplomatic relations.

U.S. Fifth Fleet
The Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy is responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and coast off East Africa as far south as Kenya. It shares a commander and headquarters with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT).

Active April 26, 1944–January 1947; July 1, 1995–Present

After a 48-year hiatus, the U.S. Fifth Fleet was reactivated, replacing COMMIDEASTFOR, and it now directs operations in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and Arabian Sea. Its headquarters are at NSA Bahrain located in Manama, Bahrain (Garrison/HQ: Naval Support Activity Bahrain)
NAVCENT, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command; CENTCOM, U.S. Central Command
Bahrain and U.S. Fifth Fleet, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahrain_%E2%80%93_United_States_relations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Fifth_Fleet)
Khalifah Dynasty, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Khalifah

News from Bahrain, Syria

“Crisis has altered Bahrain’s media” (Nada al-Wadi), Daily Star-Lebanon, May 17, 2012, http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2012/May-14/173279-crisis-has-altered-bahrains-media.ashx#axzz1v37dk2pZ

Nada al-Wadi is a Bahraini writer and journalist. This commentary, translated from the Arabic, first appeared at Sada, an online journal published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Nada Alwadi has worked as a journalist since 2002 and “turned to Twitter in order to broadcast the message of the Bahraini people during the protests that have been taking place in Manama since early 2011” (Blog:  http://twitter.com/#!/bentalwadi ). She has taken a graduate degree at the U.S. University of Maryland. http://www.cyberdissidents.org/bin/dissidents.cgi?id=141&c=BH

“Aljazeera: Arrests force Bahrain’s writers into exile,” July 15, 2011, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/4400 ; “Journalists say they have been targets of government repression since pro-democracy protests began earlier this year, published on aljazeera.net, July 15, 2012

Recommendations: “To end arms deals with the Bahraini regime” and “To end arms deals with the Bahraini regime,” March 26, 2012, Post BICI Report: A BCHR report on human rights violations since the BICI Report, published 26, March 2012

This report was the second publication from the BCHR chronicling the events since February 14, 2011. The first “Bahrain: The Human Price of Freedom and Justice, was pivotal in addressing the widespread and systematic violations of human rights and international law”

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, registered with the Bahraini Ministry of Labor and Social Services since July 2002. Despite an order by the authorities in November 2004 to close it, the BCHR is still functioning after gaining wide internal and external support for its struggle to promote human rights in Bahrain.

“U.S. presses ahead with arms sale despite ongoing violations: no investigation into past misuse of U.S.-origin helicopters, armored vehicles, and rifles,” May 16, 2012, http://bahrainwatch.org/press-release-6.html
Bahrain Watch is a monitoring and advocacy group that seeks to promote effective, accountable, and transparent governance in Bahrain through research and evidence-based activismhttp://bahrainwatch.org/about.html

“‘Unrest in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen West tactic to control PG,’” May 19, 2012,

“‘U.S., Saudi Arabia seek access to Bahrain bases for anti-Iran purposes,’” May 19, 2012, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/241967.html

“Saudi-Bahrain merger plan doomed to fail: Iran cmdr.: A top Iranian military commander says Saudi Arabia’s plan to merge with Bahrain is doomed to fail as regional nations will foil plots hatched by foreign powers,” May 19, 2012, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/05/19/242003/saudi-bahrain-iran-merger/

“U.S., Western, Arab allies seek toppling Syrian leader al-Assad,” May 19, 2012, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/05/19/241981/us-allies-seek-puppet-regime-in-syria/

“Violence down in monitored areas of Syria: UN observer,” May 19, 2012,

Today “A car bomb explosion has hit the Ghazi Ayyash neighborhood in the city of Dayr al-Zawr in eastern Syria killing 9 people and injuring more than 100 others, state television says,” May 19, 2012, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/05/19/241960/car-bomb-explosion-syrian-town/

Bahraini regime forces attack protesters in Shahrakan, May 19, 2012,

“Queen’s Jubilee guest list sparks controversy: The World’s Kings and Queens are in town. Celebrating 6 decades of Queen Elizabeth’s rule in Britain. But as the Queen shakes hands with monarchs like Bahrain’s King Hamad Al-Khalifa, protestors are condemning her for inviting him,” May 19, 2012, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/05/19/241928/queens-jubilee-guest-controversy/

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Crown Prince of Bahrain Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, speak to reporters at the State Department May 9, 2012

Bahrain is an island country in the Persian Gulf.
0M. Arab, Jordanian of Syria

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