With all the attention paid to the continuing protests in Syria and Yemen and the armed struggle in Libya, we see little about the ongoing crisis in Bahrain. A completely nonviolent movement originating in the majority Shia population has been ruthlessly crushed by the Al Khalifa royal family, with backing from some 1,000 Saudi troops who entered the country in March, and with the acquiescence of the United States.
The repression in Bahrain is continuing. The Sunni-based government, with Saudi support, has destroyed Shia mosques and religious meeting centers, according to Patrick Cockburn of The Independent. Over the past month many have been killed, injured or jailed. The suppression of the Shia population in Bahrain has aroused anger in Shia communities across the region, especially in Iran and Iraq, but also in Lebanon. This increases the risk of animosity between Shia and Sunni populations.
Meanwhile the United States remains mostly silent. We loudly condemn repression in Syria and Iran but have little to say about Bahrain. Officials in Washington do not want to alienate the Saudis for fear they’ll stop buying our weapons (the latest arms deal is worth $60 billion to the U.S. weapons industry). We worry about an interruption of ‘our’ oil supply. For Washington the top priority is maintaining the huge naval base in Bahrain, home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, which is deemed necessary to assert military dominance over the Gulf.
Another example of America’s militarized foreign policy interests overriding concerns for human rights and democratic freedom.