Yesterday, in our news section, we provided a link to Glenn Greenwald’s article on CNN International’s refusal to air a documentary it commissioned uncovering the brutal crackdown by the US-backed dictatorship in Bahrain. Greenwald linked to the documentary, now available on YouTube, but many people still have not seen it. It does a brilliant job of illustrating the abuses the people have suffered at the hands of the regime.
It’s useful to remind yourself while watching this that Washington wholeheartedly supports this kind of repression. The US has sent more than $60 million in direct aid to Bahrain since 2008, and has another $11 million scheduled for 2013. In recent years, the US has sent Bahrain riot gear, tanks, helicopter gunships, and over a million pounds of ammunition – all of which have been integral to the ruthless crackdown imposed on reform-minded Bahrainis. After international condemnation, the Obama administration was forced to suspend a new $53 million package of military equipment, making it conditional on reform. And when Bahraini opposition groups and a U.N. statement acknowledged that no substantive move towards reform had been made, Obama began secretly pushing through the arms package, circumventing congressional rules and failing to inform the public.
The protests in Bahrain are not just protests against that particular regime; they are de facto protests against this reprehensibly US foreign policy, which bribes dictatorships in order to maintain control of the Middle East. As a 2004 Defense Department report put it, when referring to the Gulf Arab states, “Without the US these regimes could not survive.”