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Imperialism behind Bahrain Crackdown

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TEHRAN, May 6 (ICANA) – Bahrain intensifies its crackdown on popular protests against the rule of Al Khalifa royal family in the Persian Gulf country, drawing criticism from the international community.
Friday, May 06, 2011 12:08:24 PM
Imperialism behind Bahrain Crackdown

Amnesty International appealed to Manama to stop the arrests of opposition members. EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton has also expressed deep concern over the imminent executions of four anti-government protesters in Bahrain.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Ralph Schoenman, the author of The Hidden History of Zionism and a political commentator, in this regard.

What follows in the transcript of the interview, also participated by another guest:

Press TV: Bahrain has now extended the state of the “national safety” although there are still six weeks left to the original national safety. It has arrested 47 doctors and nurses and it is going to try them in a military court. How do you assess the current situation in Bahrain? How bad or good does it look?

Schoenman: Let me say that I want to speak very strongly on that question but I feel obligated to say the following. The speaker who you just played on air with his references to Osama Bin Laden is speaking nonsense. Osama Bin Laden was reported by Fox News and by CNN on the 26 of December 2001, reported his death and the funeral that was held with the witnesses who were there with 30 al-Qaeda fighters, the Taliban representatives. Bin Laden is not alive and was not killed in this particular instance and in any event, he had zero to do with the events of September 11 as he articulated in great detail in Ummat , the publication of the Islamic movement in Karachi -- the third largest Urdu language paper. I've spoken to its editor, Rafiq Afghan, I have been there. This is nonsense.

But that is not the context in which to look at this vicious dictatorial Al Khalifa regime. Wall Street Journal world news headline: Bahrain to put the medical staff on trial. The government targets doctors and nurses who treat the anti-government protesters. Bahrain plans to try in a military court 50 doctors and nurses who treated anti-government protesters during months of unrest, broadening Al Khalifa's savage crackdown on Shia opposition supporters. The Bahrain Justice Ministry confirmed that 23 doctors and 24 nurses will be brought to trial on charges including attempts to topple the kingdom -- the Sunni Monarchy -- and taking part in illegal rallies. It is a long and detailed article. And in that context, I would like to call to your attention a rather dramatic development, the consequence of great efforts of many of us to mobilize the trade union movement around the world.

The president of the AFL-CIO (the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) has called upon Obama to enforce free trade agreement requirements in Bahrain and they have filed a lawsuit to expel Bahrain from the free trade agreement because of its descent into vicious dictatorship. Citing numerous documented violations and noting the General Federation of Bahraini Trade representatives and workers in the kingdom, the AFL-CIO stated that the leaders of GFBT (General Federation of Bahrain Trade) affiliates have suffered retaliation for the trade union activity, nine executive members of....have been dismissed. Bahrain natural gas has fired the entire executive committee of the unions; the Bahrain petroleum company has fired its trade union chairman and the founder of the trade union movement in Bahrain.

Rola al-Saffar, the president of Bahrain nursing society has been detained and her whereabouts are unknown. The vice-president and four board members of the Bahrain Teachers' Associations were arrested and the general secretary as well and continue to be held incommunicado. It is a dramatic statement and President Richard Trumka states in a letter to [US] Defense Secretary [Robert] Gates, “We call for an urgent political intervention to stop and prevent Bahrain's descent into dictatorship. The trade union movement in Bahrain is critical to a democratic and peaceful co-existence in a pluralistic society. Your department thus must demand its counterpart for an end to this extraordinary repression taking place at the doorstep of America's largest military installation, the US navy Fifth Fleet. Any lesser response to this crisis undermines your governments' moral authority.” That is from the president of the AFL-CIO.

Press TV: I would like to get your feeling on how realistic you think it is that the US government will in fact respond in a positive manner to your calls for the expulsion of Bahrain from the free trade pact.

Schoenman: I don't think the US will respond in a positive manner. I don't think the US government and the rulers of the US have the faintest interest in the democratic rights. On the contrary, they have sustained the Al Khalifa royal dictatorship, the Wahhabi control of Bahrain precisely to suppress the population and everything that is done by the regime is done with the sanction of the US, the nerve gas that has been inflicted upon the demonstrators and identified by nine doctors and by the Human Rights Watch in Bahrain. The evidence that is presented by physicians for the human rights in the United States, by its chairman and the delegation that went there, has exposed on a global scale the nature of this assault upon the population.

Bear in mind, please, the Cobra helicopters, the F-16 jets, the automatic weapons, the arsenal of 10,000 troops of Saudi Arabia that have invaded Bahrain; these are American weapons, these crimes are taking place less than half a mile away from the Fifth Fleet and the presence of US troops. Can you seriously believe that the US authorities are either ignorant or incapable of stopping or opposing these actions? They take place under the direct sanction of US authority; it is a measure of that fact that the normally cautious AFL-CIO and its president have gone to these extraordinary length because it is a reflection of the sentiments among the rank and file workers on a global scale and the extraordinary measure of detaining, torturing and killing doctors and ambulance drivers and nurses and physicians for treating protesters.

By the way, as we have been exposing and documenting these people who are injured and who are being gunned down and are being treated to nerve gas and to atrocious repression by the Saudi occupying forces and the security forces of the Bahraini regime; these things are taking place with the full knowledge and control of the US authorities over the matter and with relative impunity up to this point in time. So yes, the mobilization that is taking place amongst people around the world and the importance that the impact of not just the AFL-CIO but the International Trade Union Confederation based in Brussels, representing 175 million workers will galvanize the world opinion and will raise the political price that US imperialism has to pay for sanctioning this behavior and hopefully will escalate resistance and will prepare for the day when the Wahhabi regime will be overthrown by its own population, raising the stakes for US imperialism by continued support for this barbarous repression in Bahrain.

Press TV: Do think that Bahrain may be heading towards a period of instability of some sorts, considering the government and people are essentially now at loggerheads and there is somewhat of a stalemate now ensuing?

Schoenman: First let's address this question: does the government of Iran maintains its largest fleet in the harbor of New York City? does it have missiles directed at major cities of the United States? Is it menacing the US and threatening to break up the country and occupy it and subject it saturated bombing? What is this nonsense about Iran representing a threat in the Persian Gulf to Bahrain when the US has the Fifth Fleet stationed there and menacing Iran on a daily basis and constantly threatening to invade the country? This is grotesque. This is imperialism that we are dealing with, all of these various country-selling regimes have been imposed by the United States, sustained by the by the United States, financed by the United States, armed by the United States, accompanied by the US occupying forces on the ground, that is the reality in Manama.

The Inter Press Service published on April 27 an article entitled, McCarthyism is in Manama, the savage crackdown on the majority Shia movement in Bahrain by the Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa's military regime backed by the armed forces of Saudi Arabia has moved from launching outright assault on protesters on the streets in broad daylight into the murky waters of what is being called 'state terror'. That state terror includes the torturing of doctors and the wives of doctors who are being held incommunicado. Physicians for human rights have assessed and published a searing and grotesque picture of the savage torture to which one of the women doctors has been subjected, with an extraordinary account of it that is harrowing.

This is a daily reality in Bahrain and can be related to the doorstep not just Gates but also Obama, of the rulers of the US who sustain the al-Khalifa regime. The entire population of Bahrain, the Shia and Sunni alike, hates this regime, is alienated from this regime, and is mobilized against this regime and it is targeted by this regime. It is not Bahrain alone as we have been discussing, because the conditions in Bahrain obtain in Saudi Arabia, right across the peninsula. The Shia population and that one-third of Saudi Arabia where the oil is located, Shia and Sunni alike in Saudi Arabia share the same sentiment with respect to the Wahhabi regime of Saudi Arabia. Those in the stakes in the US is the principle, force and governing entity that makes this possible and sustains this brutality.

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