Why US Support for Sadistic Tyranny in Bahrain Continues

Back during the initial swing of protests in Bahrain, and when the Khalifa regime’s crackdown was at its harshest, dozens of medical professionals were arrested for the crime of treating as patients those protesters who had been injured by violent Bahraini security forces. At the time, the authorities slapped trumped up charges on them like “attempting to overthrow the government” and “spreading false news.” After international condemnation, mainly from rights groups, the regime granted those doctors release on bail pending a retrial. Since that decision, the commission appointed to investigate the government’s abuses in response to Arab Spring protests found, among other things, that torture was systemic (and probably still is). That commission investigated a total of 300 cases, although they received 5,200 complaints of abuse. People were beaten, electro-shocked, sexually abused, suspended in stress positions, etc.

Some of those medics now awaiting retrial have spoken out, notably in this AFP story:

“I can’t talk,” sobbed consultant paediatrician Nader Dawani, recounting how he was forced to stand up for seven days, while being beaten repeatedly, mainly by a female officer.

“She was the harshest. She used to hit me with a hose and wooden canes, many of which broke on my back,” said the frail 54-year-old man.

“They attempted to insert a bottle in my anus,” he recounted.

…”At night they would take me blindfolded. I can smell alcohol fuming with their breaths. One interrogator would say: It is the weekend and we are a group. If you don’t confess, we will sleep with you one at a time.”

The Bahraini dictatorship has done a decent job of deflecting criticism and feigning reform, particularly by doing things like lifting the martial law that was initially imposed and allowing this independent commission to investigate abuse, etc. But the repression continues. Demonstrations still occur on almost a nightly basis, usually to be met with tear gas and rubber bullets by security forces. In an interview with Josh Rogin, Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab said “The military has taken part in suppressing the protests. They have killed people, they have tortured people, they have arrested people, they have detained people. They have established checkpoints and humiliated people at checkpoints, raided houses, robbed houses, demolished mosques.”

U.S. support for this savagery remains assertive, however. Over $92 million in aid has been sent since Obama’s inauguration and another $26.2 million slated for next year. The Pentagon has also cut deals with Bahrain in arms trade, sending dozens of American tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopter gunships, thousands of .38 caliber pistols and millions of rounds of ammunition, from .50 caliber rounds used in sniper rifles and machine guns to bullets for handguns, some of which were undoubtedly used against protesters. The Obama administration was forced to suspend a similar package of military equipment, $53 million worth, making it conditional on reform. But Bahraini opposition groups and a U.N. statement last week acknowledged that no substantive move towards reform has been made. My guess is that new package of military aid is really being postponed, not suspended with conditions.

While shock and disapproval are the right reactions for Americans to have, nobody should be surprised that U.S. support continues unabated. Bahrain has long engaged in torture in its time as a U.S. ally. One year before the Arab Spring protests broke out, Human Rights Watch released a report noting torture on the rise despite a decade of promises from the regime for reform. Of primary interest to U.S. national security planners is the maintenance of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, which oversees the flow of oil, and also to prevent a slide towards Iran if the majority Shiites gain their rights. But no amount of real politick warrants this brutality. So long as the peacenik, Nobel laureate Barack Obama continues to support Bahrain, it is his administration that is committing crimes of torture and repression in Bahrain.

But it will continue. One primary reason is that the press simply doesn’t care. The White House press corps doesn’t ask why American tax payers are donating money to this dictatorship. The nation’s top newspapers don’t have headlines about Obama’s relentless support for sadistic cruelty and authoritarianism in Bahrain. In fact, I was surprised last week when Nicholas Kristoff wrote about this issue in a New York Times Op-Ed. It was a rare event. Without a press corps willing to ask tough questions, and without an electorate that gives a shit, these policies will continue forever.

  • liveload

    From Mossadegh to Lumumba, Hamas to the Muslim Brotherhood it is clear as day that any resource rich 3rd world nation attempting to implement reforms and Organic Democracy will be subverted, corrupted, and ultimately crushed in favor of a simple minded authoritarian. The only way the west can get what it wants is to put a complete idiot in power with absolute power. The only way an idiot can lead people is through fear, intimidation and violence. From Reza Pahlavi to Joseph Mobutu, Nuri Al-Maliki to Hamid Karzai, the west doesn't care what they do or have done as long as it gets what it wants. If this doesn't make you want to try and democratize such a nation, you're not alone. The moment you try and do right by your people, there will be the west waiting in the wings with truckloads of cash and shiny things to make sure your own people tear you to shreds. Does anyone still wonder why people like Khamenei sit at the top? As long as the resource rich nations are unable to defend themselves against the west's machinations, we will have this dynamic in play.

    • Travis

      I am Iranian and I'd say a big "Amen" to that.

  • skulz fontaine

    Embrace the "sadistic tyranny" as, it is what Amerika has become. Sad commentary on how far our government has fallen down the old immoral crap hole.

  • baz

    its all about the dollars

  • Ali khalil

    I think you made a mistake in the citation. The quotes of medics are from a report by AFP, not AP. I happen to be the person who interviewed them and wrote the story. regards

  • Izrael Finklestein

    as long as the government of any nation prostitutes itself by leasing land for military bases to usa, that givernment is free to destroy its indigenous people as it sees fit

  • Pingback: Why US Support for Sadistic Tyranny in Bahrain Continues « Antiwar.com Blog()

  • The US has made such situation to take benefits. No matter people will die as long as there is a gold, war is good! This shows us how 'good' the US government.

  • Pingback: Bahrain Feigns Reform, Prosecutes Five Officers for Torture -- News from Antiwar.com()

  • Pingback: Bahrain Police Again Fire Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas at Protesters -- News from Antiwar.com()

  • Pingback: Bahrain Police Again Fire Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas at Protesters « Stop Making Sense()

  • James

    Change is laways good if it is for the better…Was it good in Iran, Egypt, and Tunisia..Or even Iraq…1million people died in Iraq during the 8 yrs war with Iran but 2 million died since the fall of Saddam..so fixing one problem and creating 10 in a place is not a good thing for human lives and nor for democracy or the world stability…and look at the past cases for proof

  • Roberto

    this can be relaxing webpage i learn this approach just before still in my opinion i have to check this consistently.. through with thanks to your fantastic to look at go there every single day.
    Android Instagram

  • Yeah, because we all know that Obama the Peace Laureate is going to end the wars, evacuate the military bases, bring the troops home and shrink the military down to the size necessary only for territorial defence.

  • My partner and I stumbled over here from a different website and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to finding out about your web page for a second time.

  • I've never seen a few seconds better encapsulate the massive difference between the state and the people of a country. It's like the worst and best of "America" in one brief story: graphic evidence of the war-criminal tactics of the US government seared into the face of a child, who got some help from kind Americans.

  • She and all the victims like her ought to be the biggest reason to stop war—not the money, not Americans first, but what happens to innocent lives so callously called "collateral damage." It's also critical for Americans to realize that when you let Washington DC speak and act for you, to a lot of the world, that is the message.

  • Your comments are dead on! It is so unfortunate in general that governments are considered to be representive of its subjects. I don't want or agree with any of these policies, yet I am helpless to stop it. There should be signed letters from all of us (or perhaps You Tube videos?) sent to the major newspapers of these parts of the world, apologizing for this, and letting them know that not all Americans support this.

  • The area was "Taliban-infested," says CNN. Then I guess *shrug* this is just an unfortunate side effect of the struggle against violent extremism. *smile* The moral responsibility really lies with those who would resist our pacification.

  • there needs to be a mass uproar as the us govt ZOG has become a hypocritical obstacle to the christian roots of the USA. Even secular christians note Christmas celebrations have become a bare symbol of a lost national soul