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Crackdowns in Gulf States expose double standards

Published time: July 27, 2012 04:53
Edited time: July 27, 2012 08:53

AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh

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While vigorously supporting rebellion in Syria, Gulf nations have little patience for political dissent at home, which reveals double standards and Western interests in the region, believes political analyst Omar Nashabe.

In an ongoing crackdown on opposition groups, the United Arab Emirates arrested eight activists, bringing the total to almost 40 rounded up by authorities. They are charged with plotting crimes against the state and opposing the constitution.

The arrests follow even harsher crackdowns in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, where police dispersed recent demonstrations by force. Two people were killed by the Saudi police at a rare mass rally in the east of the country on Sunday, sparking further unrest.

In Bahrain, which has seen 17 months of protests, demonstrators clashed with police on Friday as the government moved to limit political marches.

People in all Arab countries have legitimate demands for democratic reforms and accountability, states Nashabe. However when violence enters the picture, things get out of hand, as happened in Syria. “It very difficult and problematic to rebuild everything after it has been destroyed,” he says.

The political analyst says that it is pure hypocrisy for the Gulf countries to support rebellion in Syria while there is dire need for reform at home. “That’s a clear double standard. One doesn’t wish that this would happen in Saudi Arabia or in the Emirates because violence will only lead to more violence.”

Their stance reveals Western interests in the region, he believes. For example, despite legitimate demands for democracy in Bahrain, Western-controlled media tries not to put any emphasis on the uprising there because the country hosts the US Fifth Fleet. Therefore these media try to portray the situation in Bahrain just as sectarian conflict between the majority Shia and ruling Sunni minority thus changing the reality of things.