February 14th marked the sixth anniversary of the popular uprising in Bahrain which roared into life in 2011. Since then, the tiny Persian Gulf country has been the scene of continuous anti-regime demonstrations which have been met with the House of Khalifah’s iron fist. Meanwhile, the US and UK governments have been facing criticism over their silence on Manama’s crackdown on dissent as well as their arms sales to the Arab monarchy despite massive rights concerns. On this occasion, we asked Michael Springmann, a former US diplomat, as well as Jihad Mouracadeh, a political analyst, to share their viewpoints about the situation in Bahrain.
(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Michael Springmann said the Bahraini regime continues to crack down on peaceful protesters because of its reliance on an all-out support from the United States and Britain. He noted that the US and the UK are using the Persian Gulf island nation to advance their own agenda in the region, which explains why they are turning a blind eye to the Bahraini people’s legitimate struggle for democratic rights.
“The United States and Britain talk a great deal about freedom, civil rights, human rights, democracy and constitutionally limited government. But when it comes to places like Bahrain, those words do not apply and do not exist anymore,” he said.
The analyst argued that Washington is throwing its weight behind the “brutally repressive” Al Khalifah regime, because Bahrain serves as the base for the US Fifth Fleet.
He also opined that Bahrain is on the brink of collapse, arguing that if it were not for the US Fifth Fleet, the country would not exist today.
Springmann further noted that Bahrainis have been holding peaceful protests, but regime forces, with the help of Saudi and Emirati troops, have “repressed, suppressed, shot, tortured, and arrested” them.
He also predicted that it is only a matter of time before the Bahrainis realize that they are going to need some outside help and “blow up the causeway - the 25-kilometer link to Saudi Arabia - and start attacking the American base in Manama.”
The former US diplomat opined that peaceful protests are not working; but are rather giving “repressive” regime forces a chance to use violence against the Bahraini people.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Springmann asserted that Britain is violating its own laws by selling arms to Bahrain.
Under British law, London cannot export weapons to countries that will use them in violation of international humanitarian law which is certainly what the “illegitimate” Bahraini regime is doing, he stated.
It is beyond belief that Britain cannot see what is happening before its very eyes in Bahrain, he said, adding British leaders are ignoring the events there because the country is an “export market” for their weapons.
According to the analyst, this approach is going to cost London and Washington more in the long run than they if they simply pressure the Manama regime “to do what the people want, give them a constitutionally limited government, and do something about the overreaching unparalleled executive powers of the king."
Meanwhile, Jihad Mouracadeh, the other panelist, stated that there has been a “deliberate attempt” to overthrow the Al Khalifah regime which has been ruling Bahrain for more than two centuries.
He explained that Saudi and UAE troops intervened in favor of the Bahraini regime because of a common defense pact which exists among the Persian Gulf Arab countries.
Mouracadeh is of the opinion that Bahrain is under attack “internally” and therefore it must defend itself, because when people resort to violence, it is no longer a peaceful campaign to demand their rights; rather, “a blatant attempt” to overthrow the “legitimate" regime of Manama.