Obama’s Gratuitous Support, And Silence, For Bahrain’s Brutal Crackdown

John Glaser, August 13, 2013

Massive protests are planned for tomorrow, August 14, in Bahrain. The dictator and king of Bahrain, also a close friend and ally of the United States, issued this warning ahead of the planned demonstrations: “The government will forcefully confront suspect calls to violate law and order and those who stand behind them through decisive measures.”

Obama meets with Bahrain King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa

Obama meets with Bahrain King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa

You might think, does it violate the law to protest? Yes, it does. The authoritarian government in Bahrain, which has brutally crushed genuine democratic uprisings for more than two years, banned all demonstrations. It is also illegal to “incite hatred” against the security forces (whatever that means), and people can be thrown in prison for calling the king a “dictator” on Twitter (something that has happened to at least eleven people).

The regime uses the Western buzz word “terrorism” to describe anyone they want to suppress, as a list of tyrannical decrees in July showcased:

2. Revoking the citizenship of those who carry out terrorist crimes and their instigators.

3. Inflicting tough penalties on those who incite all forms of violence and terrorism.

4. Inflicting severe punishment on all kinds and forms of violence and terror crimes.

5. Drying up all sources of terrorist financing.

6. Banning sit-ins, rallies and gatherings in the capital Manama.

“The Bahraini regime’s repression has not let up,” I wrote last month in the Huffington Post. “Human rights groups have documented killings, beatingstorture, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, harassment, the destruction of more than 40 Shia mosques… on and on.”

Since Barack Obama took office in 2009, the Bahraini regime has received almost $90 million in direct U.S. aid, but the direct military equipment and training Washington provides exceeds that amount by leaps and bounds. America supports this dictatorship with anti-riot gear, small arms, short-range ballistic missiles, rocket-launchers, Blackhawk helicopters, air-to-air missiles, Stinger shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile, on and on and on, worth billions and billions. “Approximately 250 Bahraini military students attend U.S. military schools each year,” according to a Congressional Research Service report.

In September 2011, seven months after the crackdown began, the Obama administration announced “a proposed sale of 44 ‘Humvee’ (M115A1B2) armored vehicles and several hundred TOW missiles of various models, of which 50 are to be ‘bunker busters,'” CRS reports. Months earlier, as  Time magazine reported Cobra helicopters conducted “live ammunition air strikes” on protesters.

In FY2014, Bahrain is set to receive another $11 million in aid.

After succumbing to pressure to stop aiding Bahrain during its authoritarian repression, President Obama announced in May 2012, after a visit to the White House by Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman, “that, despite continuing concerns about Bahrain’s handling of the unrest, it would open up Bahrain to the purchase of additional U.S. arms for the BDF, Bahrain’s Coast Guard, and Bahrain’s National Guard.”

In December 2012, posters of President Obama with the word “Criminal” emblazoned across his face were put up throughout the Shiite neighborhood of Sitra in Bahrain. Above the photograph was the title “Terrorism is an [sic] U.S. Industry.”

So we know what U.S. policy has been towards Bahrain in the midst of this harsh crackdown. What has the Obama administration actually said about this crisis? Not a word – at least not for a long time. And nothing about the impending “forceful confrontation” tomorrow.




18 Responses to “Obama’s Gratuitous Support, And Silence, For Bahrain’s Brutal Crackdown”

  1. [...] Print This | Share This | Send a letter to the editor | Letters | Antiwar Forum [...]

  2. [...] End crackdown on peaceful [...]

  3. I live in Bahrain for nearly a year, moved from UK. Bahrain is stable country and all what is said about discrimination against Shiaa is just a fake. I worked with Shiaa colleagues and they acknowledge that the government is doing its best in looking after every citizen equally. Young chaos are fooled by extremists hence they doing the unnoticeable unrest that is widely hated.

  4. Agree. The Royal Family is very humble not as the others show them. They seek improvement in every part of the country. Please let them continue the good work they’ve meant to do. Working for more than a year, coming from UK, democracy here is as good as in UK. Remember the Chios in London where protests went violent. Would you like to see that in Bahrain and say stand still? Would you like to see a security chap killed because he is protecting me and my family. There is a difference between peaceful protest and planned destruction.

  5. You're the man, John.

    Isn't it interesting how we hear next to nothing from Washington on human rights violations in countries that are already on their side?

    I wrote about this topic, too, in a post called "The Empire's Bahrain", at empireslayer.blogspot.com.

    If a country is already under the thumb of the empire, there is no need to invade it, so thus no need to make a public fuss over its US-backed spilled milk…..

  6. Westerners have little or no knowledge regarding the situation in Bahrain, they see it from their myopic point of view.I am not a govt. supporter but what is going on in Bahrain is NOT a call for democracy, but a movement inspired by Iran and hezbollah. The molotov throwing boys , and those who use home-made explosives to kill expats and police are not peaceful buy any means.We have grown with Western hypocrisy all our life so the present move comes as no surprise.See Guantanamo prison, drones killing civilians, among others.What is the point now to talk about Bahrain, while crimes against innocents are taking place daily??? Bahrain has the right to defend itself.Majority of Bahrainis both Shia and Sunnis back the govt.

  7. As someone from UK currently work in bahrain, totally agree with you Duri. Bahrain has the right to defend itself.Majority of Bahrainis both Shia and Sunnis back the govt. As wetsners we can see the silaent majority who have the same views as ours.

  8. Shame on you, all the peaceful demonstration for the legit rights of the majority is being suppressed by the ruthless regime, even basic rights like housing, education and jobs being provided based on religious affiliation with sunnis – worst outsiders, salafis from Pakistan being provided with housing at the cost of the original inhebitant of the Island who are shia's and you claim that "majority of Bahrainis —- back the govt". It is obviously you are paid and enjoy the facilities which was the rightful for the majority of the populations and that's why you support the regime. You have been brainwashed to say that the demonstrators are being supported by outsiders.

  9. For sure Salafi expatriates will supporter the regime because you people are taking what belongs to the original inhabitants the Bahrain's – Shia, Shia's are being denied job, housing and even access to sea for fishing. Essam try talking with the majority of the population to understand the truth and have your brain and eyes open when you visit outside Manama, to comprehend and understand the reality, its no brainer to see the reality, stark depredation and poverty caused by the regime to the majority of the people whose only crime is to practive other than sunni/salafi ideology.

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  11. I cracked my tooth playing basketball, and unfortunately I don’t have insurance. I live in the Pittsburgh, PA area and was wondering if there are any free or discount dental services in the area. . . Thanks.

  12. [...] immer wieder mit äußerster Brutalität niedergeschlagen (siehe etwa IMI-Aktuell 2013/064). Antiwar.com (13.08.2013) listet nun in die verschiedenen Unterstützungsleistungen der USA auf, darunter 90 [...]

  13. OPEX want Alwai in Irak ,Abod in Sham and Bradi in M$r..MacCIAn wants Christianz to rule Army RED clouds

  14. Read Kindle's new thriller, The Bahrain Protocol, to get the real truth on how Hezbollah pays demonstrators to destabilize and destroy the Bahrain economy. Their end game is to hand Bahrain to Iran on a silver platter, as part of Iran's larger plan to take over the Arabian gulf, and 60% of the world's oil production.

  15. That's interesting, one works in Bahrain and is from England, get paid over and above what his work is worth in Bahrain, the Swedish, the Germans are working there which their atractive salaries is the main reasons for them to be in Bahrain, the other is from Bahrain, I guess, telling what is not true. But then again they are right, west doesn't know why these people are there nor west is interested to know whats going on in Bahrain because the usa military base, the amount of money milked by the usa and eu from the regime in Bahrain is more important then discussion or the human rights abuses commited by the regime, the support of an tyrant regime, the rights of social political of the people is not worthy for the west media to be discussed.

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  18. U.S. and Syrian flags, and chanting slogans at the thousands of passing motorists, many of whom honked and waved their approval. The group numbered roughly 70 at their peak during the three-hour rally, with dozens arriving and leaving during the event.