Tensions between the US-backed regime in Bahrain and pro-democracy protesters are reaching incendiary levels as the life of a prominent human rights activist on hungerstrike hangs perilously in the balance.
For more than a year, largely peaceful rallies have persisted in Bahrain despite a brutal crackdown by Saudi-backed forces. Now, demonstrations in solidarity with imprisoned hungerstriker Abdulhadi Al Khawaja are occurring on a daily basis in villages and towns across the Persian Gulf kingdom – defying intensified state repression.
And the Bahraini uprising, led mainly by the 70 per cent Shia population, is increasingly strident in its calls for the downfall of the unelected Sunni monarchy. The prospect for some kind of compromise leading to a constitutional monarchy – a “settlement” being pushed by Washington – is now viewed as anathema, well past its sell-by date.
Paradoxically, the conflict, chaos and blinding tear gas on the streets seems to be clarifying for the Bahraini people what needs to be done to achieve their democratic freedom.
Furthermore, anger is mounting towards the US government, which is seen more and more as the political guarantor of despotic rule by the Al Khalifa monarchy.
Significantly, in response to Bahraini security force violence and the tin ear of the island’s ruling dynasty, protesters appear to be resorting to violence as their last-resort means of political expression, with youths throwing petrol bombs and barricading off streets with burning vehicles and tires. .....