Pearl Revolution Political Center - مركز 14 فبراير السياسي wrote a note titled Critical Read: The real motive behind FT article “America Should Pull its Fleet Out of Bahrain”
The article is interesting for indirect reasons. There obviously must be serious concerns within the US and British ruling class about Bahrain's despicable international image and their association with it. That the FT would publish this is a sign of discomfort. So airing this viewpoint probably lets a bit of steam off the US and British establishments and creates an impression that there is a distance between them and those "awful repressive" Bahraini and Saudi regimes.
The article gives a flattering impression that the US/UK are fundamentally concerned about human rights and democracy and that somehow these powers are misled by "those nasty Gulf Sunni monarchies". Note advice in the article for the US (and Britain) to support more reformist elements in the Bahraini regime. I think it is debatable if there are genuine reformist elements in the regime. But the article and the FT are giving the impression that there are. There may be those figures like the Crown Prince who can use the language of reform, but that does not mean that they are serious about reform. In some ways, such elements are more problematic that the hardliners.
So, the article and the FT is subtly giving the Bahraini regime a kind of whitewash by saying that there are decent, reformists in the Bahraini rulers, and we need to support them. We are basically right in being an ally with Bahraini rulers, but we need to choose the better, more reformist rulers. This lets the US and Britain off the hook of responsibility for all the decades of supporting the regime and setting up its torture apparatus.
Also, the writer assumes that the US and Britain would be motivated by concerns for human rights and democracy, and that these powers need to make better choices in regards to Bahraini/Saudi policy. I disagree with that assessment. The US and Britain do not care about rights. They are fundamentally aligned with Saudi Arabian and Bahraini despots because that alignment secures their strategic interests. The US and British foreign policy is opposed to democracy, human rights and international law.
I think this quote from the article signifies the underlying false assumptions of the author regarding US/British foreign policy:
"To end the current violence and the regime’s human rights violations, three steps must be taken. First, western powers must strengthen the pro-reform faction in the ruling family. Second, Washington should urge the king to remove the prime minister, his uncle, from office; many Bahrainis think he symbolises corruption, repression and unyielding opposition to political reform...Third, America should send a clear message to Bahrain’s regime to halt violence against the Shia and act on all the recommendations of the Independent Commission of Inquiry."
The US/UK governments have shown no concern so far about "wanting to end violence". They have supported this regime all the way, in particular with arms sales. Also, the Bahraini king is invited to Britain's Buckingham Palace to celebrate the British monarchy's anniversary. Even if these powers advise getting rid of PM Khalifa that does not mean any substantive change towards democracy. It is more a PR exercise just like the Western-backed BICI inquiry and report. Recall that the BICI inquiry was set up just after the Crown Prince went on high-profile visits to Downing Street and Washington in June 2011.
I believe the Western sponsors advised the setting up of the BICI inquiry as a way of whitewashing the Bahraini regime's international image and the Western powers alliance with it. The Western powers have better sense of PR gimmickry as countless British public inquiries have shown in the past, for example Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
As for the US Navy Fifth Fleet, the authors says: "Its presence has arguably increased Iran’s belligerence and given Sunni regimes, including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the false impression that Washington has given them a license to kill their own people."
He repeats a false flag about Iran's alleged belligerence (no evidence, just a disgraceful assertion), and he asserts that Fifth Fleet has given "false impression" that Washington has given a license to kill their own people". Well, the visits by Sir Peter Ricketts and Robert Gates to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia only days before the Saudi invasion of Bahrain on 14-15 March 2011 were not false impressions; they were unmistakable green lights for murderous repression.
The author concludes: "Moving the US military presence from Bahrain to “over the horizon” would be a clear signal that Arab dictatorship will no longer be tolerated, whether in Bahrain, Syria, Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere."
Syria is erroneously categorised with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The violence in Syria is being orchestrated by the US/Britain and other NATO powers along with their allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain precisely to inflict Syria with the kind of anti-democratic Arab regime that the US/Britain supports elsewhere. Contrary to his assertion, Arab dictatorships are very much tolerated by the Western powers. They are in fact deeply supported and required by Western powers in order to protect their vital strategic interests.
In short the article is inherently flawed in its premises and assumptions regarding the nature of US/British foreign policy as being a force for good. The article has a superficial progressive appearance in that it calls for the US Fifth Fleet to quit Bahrain.
This suggestion will not be seriously considered as an option by the US because of the fundamental nature of the US and British policy that the author seems totally unaware of. However, by publishing this view on the Fifth Fleet possibly moving from Bahrain (there is no chance) this merely gives the US and British political establishments the appearance of having concerns for human rights and democracy. I think the undeclared point of the article is to subtly whitewash the images of the US and Britain with regards to Bahrain and the Arab World. But this feel-good article is a dangerous concealment because it disinforms the reader as to the real nature of the Western governments.
The real proof of any presumed concerns about human rights and democracy among Western governments would be to halt immediately all weapons sales to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia from US, Britain and France. Let's see the FT publish an article calling for that. It would not because those arms deals in the face of repression against civilians show the real relationship between the West and its dictator clients. And the chance of such cessation of arms deals is zero.
* Comments by a researcher interested in the Arab Spring and Bahrain in particular.
Arabic translation by Bahrain Mirror