“The UN’s special rapporteur on torture has accused Britain of playing Bahrain’s “game” by funding its human rights institutions while allowing it to act with “impunity” by not pressuring the kingdom to let him visit. Juan Méndez, whose 2013 visit was postponed by Bahrain, told BuzzFeed News the kingdom had “played the UK’s support to maximum effect”. While Méndez does not have legally binding, enforceable powers, the public nature of his reporting could potentially damage the kingdom’s standing on the world stage……..”
Historical reports of World War II tell us that whenever the invading German forces conquered a town in the Soviet Union (Russia), they started by killing off leaders of the Jewish community. They would call for all Rabbis and business and academic leaders to attend a meeting, where they would be either deported to camps or summarily shot over mass graves. The idea was to decapitate a community and render its members leaderless and lost.
Now I don’t want to exaggerate (although I will): there are no mass graves on the Gulf. The local culture does not allow for such historically-European practices. But in the British colony of Bahrain there is a milder gentler imitation of what the Nazi SS did during the war. The rulers and their imported mercenaries are slowly decapitating the troublesome Shi’as. They have been gradually persecuting and prosecuting the leaders of the majority Shi’a community (and some decent outspoken Sunnis like Ibrahim Al Sharif and others).
Clerics are being thrown in prison for speaking their minds, many mosques have been razed, and they are handing out long prison sentences for human rights activists. Many are having their citizenship, a birthright in all civilized countries, canceled arbitrarily by the ruling family and its tribal allies. New foreign people, mercenaries, are brought in who are deemed “loyal’ to the rulers. They tried that “loyalty” approach that in another Gulf GCC country decades ago, but it has backfired.
Remember, this is an exaggeration by me, a gross exaggeration on my part. Consider it like an artistic exaggeration or artistic license that is used to to make a point. But the idea is the same, even if the method is not nearly as gruesome.
M Haider Ghuloum
These quaint tweets from the Bahrain Ministry of Interior yesterday (@moi_bhrain) on street traffic in the capital, Manama. Just a sample of many:
Close the left lane on Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman (al Khalifa) in both directions on Friday and Saturday from 6 am to 12 noon.
Close the left lane of Shaikh Salman Ahmed (al Khalifa) the Conqueror industrial vest region after 109 road intersection towards the industrial area on Friday and Saturday.
Close almsaralaimn of Shaikh Isa Bin Salman (al Khalifa) (UM Al Hassam tunnel) towards almnamhmn at 11 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. next Saturday.
PT: left lane of both sides of Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman (al Khalifa) highway will be closed on Fri and Sat from 6am to 12noon
Now do you know why sometimes it is so hard to find your way around if you are an outsider? Even with a GPS?
Street names like: Khalifa Bin Issa, Khalifa Bin Salman, Salman Bin Hamad, Hamad Bin Issa, Issa Bin Salman, Salman Bin Khaifa, ad nauseam. Most street names evolve around a handful of repeated ruling family names (dead, alive, and almost there) over and over and over. Sort of rubbing salt into the wounds already suffered by ‘most’ of the people. Every little shaikh-let probably aspires to have his own street name someday, before he grows up into a full-fledged avaricious potentate and aspires to amass his own loot. Just like his daddy and uncles and elder brothers did.
So how could one solve this? KBS and KBI and SBK, and HBI and NBH, and KKK and SOB and ABC and XYZ?
It is a family affair…….. but gets kind of monotonous and boring after a while. Just like the honorees.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
When the Bahrain uprising was frustrated with help from foreign mercenaries and Saudi forces, the ruling family decided to erase the memory of it. Or so they thought. The heart and symbol of the February 14, 2011 uprising was renamed from Pearl Square to GCC Square (actually renamed Al Farooq Square, a sort of historical slap at the Shi’as). Its structure was also changed so that people cannot gather in it anymore.
Now to Egypt: the historic true mother of the Arab world. General Al Sisi has agreed to sell two strategic islands in the Red Sea to the Saudi ruling family. Basically the sisterly (or brotherly) Saudis caught him at a tough time for the Egyptian economy. The islands were sold for an unspecified billions of dollars in aid and loans. That is apparently the Sisi plan to revive the Egyptian economy: borrow and beg dollars from the Saudis (and some from the UAE Emirates who suffer from severe Muslim Brotherhood Phobia). Egyptians on the street are outraged, but Sisi pretends he is deaf.
Is it possible that the Egyptian military will imitate the Baharin rulers and change Tahrir Square to, say, King Salman Square? That should lead the millions of Egyptians back to the “square’, I would think.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
It is a problem, this faraway little Gulf of ours. A few years ago I modified its name, I started to call it the Persian-American Gulf, but it is getting harder. The population is shifting. The princes and potentates in their little kingdoms have now imported a majority of the non-Arabic and non-Persian speaking population from South and Southeast Asia and claim it should be called, no, not the Gulf of Bengal……….. Could it be the Gulf of Mercenaries, as I suggested a year or two ago? Gulf of Wahhabis, heaven forbid? How about the Gulf of Salaf? Gulf of Foreign Military Bases? Gulf of Tribal Sectarianism?
- For example, the little oppressed repressed robbed sectarian island of Bahrain is now nearly sinking under foreign bases:
U.S Naval Base Gulf HQ – Saudi Military Base post the Spring of 2011 invasion – Even the old British colonial masters have not stopped helping the ruling gangs in their robbery and repression. They are starting a new military base – Add to all that assorted imported mercenaries/interrogators and torturers from Jordan, Pakistan, Syria (former security), Iraq (former Baathists), among other foreign places. With an occasional obscure idle English prince and princess or two paying visits to shore up the kleptocratic autocratic outpost.
- Little rich Wahhabi power Qatar where 90% of the population is temporary foreign laborers (mainly South Asian housemaids raising the kids and keeping house):
U.S. Central Command has its regional headquarters at the Al-‘Adeed base – It is now also the Muslim Brotherhood HQ (outside Turkey) – Now reports say that Turkey, under its new Ottoman Caliph Sultan Recep Erdogan, will also establish a military base in Qatar. So, the Ottomans are coming back, with a new sultan. Which might indicate that the on-again-off-again sisterly relations with the fellow Saudi Wahhabis may be heading up the proverbial ‘unsanitary creek’.
- United Arab Emirates (UAE, where some 90% of the population is composed of imported foreign laborers and housemaids), ruled by a Band of Brothers who own Abu Dhabi (lock, stock and barrel). I think it has:
British base – French base – Canadian base (sorry, it was closed over a commercial dispute) – Colombian mercenary military base (no, not FARC) – (Former) Blackwater mercenary force: mainly South American, South African, Australian, etc- Actually I have lost track: for all I know even Monaco or Vanuatu may have military bases in Abu Dhabi by now.
But I don’t have anything against friendly military bases. They can be a protective measure that started with Saddam’s Baathist brutal invasion of Kuwait in 1990. But I suspect they are not only aimed against Iraqi dangers anymore, and not only aimed against the mullahs in Iran, but probably also needed not-so-secretly to keep the sisterly Wahhabi princes next door at home. The princes are only a few tanks’ drive away, as the unhappy people of Bahrain discovered in the Spring of 2011.
As well as the dangers that may emerge from the troubles in Iraq/Jordan/Syria. Dangers that were largely created and financed by wayward Persian Gulf Islamist groups and some princes. As well as some unsettled tribal issues and risks that Gulf GCC states have experienced (attempted Saudi-backed coup in Qatar in 1998) and others may be experiencing.
Still, a Turkish military base in Qatar? But why not? After all there is a Saudi Wahhabi base in Bahrain. The Muslim Brotherhood Turkish base in Qatar could balance that.
But there is still the same nagging question that won’t go away for me: whoever the hell heard of a country welcoming a Turkish military base?
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) seem to be in a race to see which one can establish more foreign military bases and which one can hire more foreign mercenaries. I once suggested that the Persian-American Gulf should be renamed the Gulf of Mercenaries, mainly because of these two countries’ penchant for importing foreign mercenaries to crush dissent and help stifle reform.
The British were in Bahrain for a long time as colonial masters. They had military bases on the island, and they helped the Al Khalifa ruling family and their tribal allies keep absolute political control and enabled them to continue looting the country. They left at the beginning of the 1970s although their bureaucrats continued to call the shots in many local institutions.
The U.S. naval base is a more recent development in Manama and it is largely considered a ‘non-political’ presence. It is a port of convenience and has no internal role. The Saudi military presence is an even more recent development, and it is a totally political and domestic security presence. The Saudi forces entered the country to help the Al Khalifa crush the “Arab Spring” popular uprising of 2011. They are now in the country as a permanent presence.
Then there is the huge contingent of foreign mercenaries imported from such humorless places as Pakistan and Jordan and Syria. They are definitely a political presence.
The British government has done its best to support the repression in Bahrain, it has even sent its unemployed princes and princesses on occasional visits to Bahrain. Just to enhance the ‘legitimacy’ of the ruling sectarian elites. Even as it has called for sanctions, nay even war, against the Syrian regime.
Now the British are reported to be in the process of re-establishing a new foreign military base on the island. That seems like a purely political presence, since Bahrain does not face any external threat other than from the foreign mercenaries imported by its regime.
Sovereign countries have the right to allow foreign bases on their soil: nothing unusual about that. Especially if they face external threats. Provided these bases do not interfere in domestic politics. But will the small island sink under the weight of all these foreign bases and imported mercenaries?………
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“The State Department has expressed deep concern over the detention of the Bahraini opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, warning the arrest could lead to more tensions in the island kingdom. Sheikh Salman, head of the al-Wefaq Islamic Society, was arrested on Sunday after leading a protest rally against elections in November which his party boycotted. He was remanded in custody for a further week on Tuesday. “Opposition parties that peacefully voice criticism of the government play a vital role in inclusive, pluralistic states and societies,” the State Department said………….”
The Al Khalifa family that rule and loot Bahrain have ushered in this new year predictably. They have arrested more opposition leaders and other dissidents. This time they arrested Shaikh Ali Salman, leader of the largest peaceful opposition Al Wefaq Society (Shi’a). The ruling gangsters have been focusing on arresting leaders of various opposition and reform groups, a clear policy of decapitating all sources of opposition and independence on the captive island nation of Bahrain. They have failed to completely crush the uprising that started in 2011, even with thousands of Saudi occupation forces and imported Asian and Arab mercenaries.
Like their Saudi masters across the Persian Gulf, these rulers are deep into a policy of decapitation as well. But unlike the Saudis, they do not chop human heads, they mostly chop political heads, with the goal of a politically castrated country composed of yes-men and yes-women.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Holiday
Bahrain News Agency– Dec. 15, 2014- The consecutive headlines:
“His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa today received a cable of congratulations from Parliament Speaker, Ahmed bin Ibrahim Al-Mulla, on Bahrain’s celebrations of its National Days on December 16 and 17, marking the anniversary of the establishment of the modern state of Bahrain as an Arab and Muslim country in 1783 by its founder Ahmed Al-Fateh, the 43rd Anniversary of its accession to the UN as a full member and the 15th Anniversary of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s Accession ………..”
“His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa today received cables of congratulations marking Bahrain’s celebrations of its National Days on December 16 and 17, marking the anniversary of the establishment of the modern state of Bahrain as an Arab and Muslim country in 1783 by its founder Ahmed Al-Fateh, the 43rd Anniversary of its accession to the UN as a full member and the 15th Anniversary of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s Accession……………”
“His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa today received cables of congratulations on Bahrain’s celebrations of its National Days on December 16 and 17, marking the anniversary of the establishment of the modern state of Bahrain as an Arab and Muslim country in 1783 by its founder Ahmed Al-Fateh, the 43rd Anniversary of its accession to the UN as a full member and the 15th Anniversary of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s Accession………….”
“His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa received a cable of congratulations from Parliament Chairman Ahmed bin Ibrahim Al-Mulla on Bahrain’s celebrations of its National Days on December 16 and 17, marking the anniversary of the establishment of the modern state of Bahrain as an Arab and Muslim country in 1783 by its founder Ahmed Al-Fateh, the 43rd Anniversary of its accession to the UN as a full member and the 15th Anniversary of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa’s Accession…………….”
“His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa issued a decree pardoning 105 convicts who served part of their prison terms. The royal pardon is part of festivities on Bahrain’s celebrations of its National Days on December 16 and 17, marking the anniversary of the establishment of the modern state of Bahrain as an Arab and Muslim country in 1783 by its founder Ahmed Al-Fateh, the 43rd Anniversary of its accession to the UN as a full member and the 15th Anniversary of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa’s Accession…………..” (After which the convicts probably sent him congratulatory cables, no doubt).
Cables? Whothefuck sends cables these days, other than Arab princes and potentates? They might as well use running messengers or pigeons. It gets even better: some of the princes are fond of sending handwritten missives. Which the others pretend to read slowly while the television cameras scan their faces for any signs of intelligent life. Alas…………
I noticed no congratulatory cable from the obese foreign minister of Bahrain. Not even a hand-written missive. What gives? Maybe his pen ran out of ink………
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“Bahrain witnessed mass pro-democracy protests against the royal family of King Hamad Al-Khalifa in February 2011 before authorities, backed by neighboring countries, crushed the uprising. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf neighbors sent troops into Bahrain in March, reinforcing a crackdown that led to accusations of serious human rights violations…………….”
The Bahrain uprising of 2011-14 and its suppression continue to create tensions among the GCC countries and around the Gulf region. Initially, only the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and to a lesser extent Qatar joined the Saudis in sending forces to crush the uprising in 2011. Kuwait, given her own recent experience of foreign invasion and occupation, declined that invitation. That has created a certain amount of tension between certain elements within the two countries.
A certain section of the population in Kuwait, mainly but not exclusively the Shi’as, sympathized with the Bahrain uprising, but the so-called main opposition forces sided firmly with the regime and with the Saudi intervention. By the end of 2011 support for regime or opposition in both Bahrain and Syria were firmly largely based on sectarian factors. This is probably not so surprising, given the strong tribal and Wahhabi and sectarian factors at work.
Now a Shi’a member of the Kuwait parliament has drawn the ire of the Bahrain authorities for making critical statements on the social media. The same assembly member was also reported to support the Syrian Al Assad regime even before the Wahhabis took over the Syrian opposition. Which makes him also somewhat hypocritical. He sparred briefly on Twitter with the corpulent foreign minister of Bahrain (another of the Al Khalifa), and this has displeased the Bahrain potentates. So they reportedly complained to the local authorities about this parliamentarian. The local authorities are making the right polite noises about respecting the brotherly and sisterly and neighborly state and by implication its brotherly and sisterly and neighborly little potentates.
So far, so good. Kuwait is one rare Gulf state were political debate and controversy have been usually a guaranteed part of public life since before independence. So far without much sisterly or brotherly or neighborly interference. But another interesting factor has been the position of the Kuwaiti ‘opposition’. What I would call the tribal Islamist Wahhabi-liberal opposition, because these three strains dominate and lead it.
They have been noisily demanding more rights of free speech in front of the world media, right? No, not so fast. Many of their more prominent members have always supported the repression in Bahrain and the absolute Saudi oligarchy. Now they have sprung again on social media to demand that the government crack down on those who criticize these foreign governments. (Some but not all of their influential members are also sympathizers and supporters of such humanitarian groups as Al-Nusra and ISIS and other assorted cutthroats in Iraq and Syria. But that is another issue).
Cheeky monkeys: they want the same government that they complain is stifling their own right of dissent to ban criticism of foreign governments, albeit sisterly and brotherly and neighborly governments. Can it be the tribal factor? Can it be the Wahhabi factor? Can it be the sectarian factor? Can it be all of the above? Yes, it can………….
It could be hypocrisy and chutzpah, probably on both sides, rolled in one joint and smoked with regional prejudice……….
I found this archival photo of a summit held a few years ago between the late Michael Jackson and His Majesty the King of Bahrain in Manama. That was before that city became known as the “Arab capital of tear gas“. The topic of the summit was allegedly focused on Persian Gulf Security situation and how to improve it.
The picture below is reportedly of Jacko arriving for the Summit disguised as an ISIS groupie. Here he is shaking hands with one of the many loyal trusted foreign mercenaries imported from…….. somewhere else. The alert-looking guy with shifty eyes in the middle is also another imported mercenary: he is either a body guard or a foreign policy adviser to the government. Perhaps he doubles as both.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“Police detained Bahraini human rights campaigner Maryam al-Khawaja after her arrival in the Gulf country on Saturday, her mother said. Al-Khawaja has dual Bahraini and Danish citizenship. Her mother, Khadija al-Musawi, told The Associated Press that her daughter was refused entry after presenting her Danish passport and a Bahraini identification card, and at one point was surrounded by police. The activist has said she wanted to visit her jailed father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is on hunger strike to protest his detention. Lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi told the AP that prosecutors plan to press charges against al-Khawaja that include insulting the king and police……………”
How can anybody ever ‘insult’ that particular king and police? Is that even possible in this days and age and in that venue?
The father, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, has been under arrest almost since the beginning of the Bahrain uprising in 2011. He is reported to have undergone torture. Another daughter was released just recently from prison but faces other charges from the ruling family. She will probably spend more time in prison. This one, Maryam, has been outside Bahrain, traveling for the cause of her country. Most Arab countries like Egypt have banned her from entering their territory, in deference to the Saudi princes and/or local Salafis. Oddly, such is the poisonous sectarian atmosphere encouraged by the Al Saud and other Wahhabi propaganda that some Arabs who have revolted against their own regimes are also against the Bahrain uprising.
She remained outside prison by remaining outside the occupied country. Now she is back home and in prison, arrested upon arrival at the airport, allegedly pending an investigation. She will probably start spending more time in prison as well. At some point the whole family will probably be in a regime prison at the same time.
The Bahrain ruling family is moving fast toward Saudi-ization of its court and legal systems. The room for dissent and criticism is narrowing by the week. As the late Egyptian poet Ahmad Fuad Negm reportedly opined once: “The poor Bahraini. He gets arrested by Pakistani or Jordanian policemen, he is tormented by Syrian or Jordanian interrogators, and he is tried and sentenced by an Egyptian judge. He, the accused native is the only Bahraini in the courtroom“. Or something to that effect.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum