And no, it’s not in Iraq– It’s in Bahrain.
The sentencing of four protesters to death, in court proceedings that would be familiar to any small town Southern Sheriff in the 1950’s, makes it plain that the intent isn’t simply to defeat the protesters but to crush them. While the west continues to bomb Libya, the bleatings on Bahrain are distinguished by their half hearted nature, and in fact in many places, an obvious hope this will go away so that the current leadership, which is quite amiable to taking our suggestions, remains in place, comfortably swilling at their troughs. That’s why we hear so much about these Libyan mercenaries, yet the full scale incursion of Saudi troops (troops supported, trained and equipped by the West, not least among them, the United States.) goes without much comment.
The level of mental gymnastics to explain why nothing has been done– and yes, when you consider all the levers the US and west have, “nothing” is the operative word here, would be amusing, if it wasn’t so sickening.
And what’s worse? We’ve been down this road before in Iran. Bahrain may suppress this current movement– they after all, came to a gun fight with some knives, but the only thing that means is that any hint of compromise will be burned away. The fearful may retreat– make no mistake, they will never support the government again, but they will at least stay in their homes.
That is, until the other side of the movement, the one that will be purged of any moderation, manages to score a victory. And this side of the movement, infuriated, and well aware that from this point on, words and demonstrations will be met with guns, will turn to anyone willing to provide them with guns. And among those groups would be Iran or groups like Al Qaeda’s various franchises.
And one can hardly blame them– the US and west after all, in real terms, reacted with a giant yawn, combined with some annoyance that the Bahraini security services weren’t able to make this problem go away more quietly. For the protesters it’s now become a life and death struggle, and you take help, well from anyone you can get it from in those sorts of struggle. After all, Churchill was the one who made the perceptive comment about aid from the devil.
If the US was worried about Iranian influence, this is the worst possible outcome– an allied nation now that rules solely on the backs of foreign mercenaries and military units, one that no longer has even the smallest shard of legitimacy. The Christian Science Monitor calls it accurately:
The government’s strategy of crackdowns cannot be a long-term solution, says a Western observer in Bahrain who asked not to be identified to avoid repercussions from the government.
“Ultimately countries that start on this path have to end in reform. The only question is whether it’s five years, 10 years, or 15 years, and what the body count is,” says the observer. “The only options right now are substantial reform or a severe crackdown in which they kill a lot of people and pin them in their villages. And that’s not sustainable. I don’t care if you’re talking about 20 years, at some point that ends.”
What has happened is that the US had made the creation of another radical government certain– not this year, maybe not next year, but revolutionaries are often patient– worse, it has provided an easy PR victory for anti-US forces, who can point at bombs in Libya, a nation opposed to us, and then to the ineffectual response in Bahrain. The Shia will once again see Iran as one of their only champions, and radical movements will gain more adherents– every doctor fired for treating patients, every individual arrested for participating in protests will have received a graduate level education in why bombs are better than words.
Iran is handed another group of Shia who now need support from any group they can get it, and various radical groups know that now they have yet another potential source of recruits, ones repressed by yet another corrupt, western supported oligarchy.