What Protests in Bahrain Are Really About

Joost Hiltermann writes in the New York Review of Books blog about his recent trip to Bahrain:

Talking to dozens of people both in Manama and in smaller communities outside the capital, I was told again and again that the situation was becoming worse, not better: police forces have been using large quantities of tear gas against protesters, repeatedly causing deaths; police brutality had not ended but moved from police stations to alleyways and undeclared detention centers; young activists are increasingly resorting to Molotov cocktails, subverting the peaceful nature of the protests; and the government has not opened any dialogue with the opposition or offered hope for political reform.

Hiltermann explains how this narrative of sectarianism and of an encroaching Iran on the Shiite protesters is not a reality on the ground, although it is peddled by the regime which is desperate to conceal the fact that the protest movement in Bahrain really is about reforming a corrupt dictatorship. And of course there is the added benefit of trying to convince the U.S. that any harm to the regime will be a benefit to the ultimate bogeyman, Iran.

Meanwhile, the regime has promised enough messing around. After a year of killing and beating and torturing and repressing the population, they are apparently preparing for an even harsher crackdown. But you can bet support from Washington will continue.

3 thoughts on “What Protests in Bahrain Are Really About”

  1. dictatorship? really? not before february 2011!! In 2011 Shiites took over the streets and were stopping cars and demanding to see the drivers' and passengers' Identifications. If they had Sunni last names, they were yanked out of their cars and beaten. Some were killed. the government stepped in to protect the minorities not just Sunnis but expats (mostly of Indian ethnicity) too, who were being severely abused by the Shiite majority. Now you call that dictatorship. I call that protecting your country from a tyrannical shiite majority.

  2. A corrupt dictatorship that tortures and kills its own people is fine with the USG so long as its home to the fifth fleet and aligns itself with the USG against Iran. The USG policy with regard to human rights in the Middle East can be summarized as follows:

    Human rights abuses by Arab governments that align themselves with the USG: GOOD
    Human rights abuses by Arab governments that have and independent foriegn policy: BAD
    Human rights abuses by the Israeli Government: GOOD

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