Keep up with the news by installing RT’s extension for . Never miss a story with this clean and simple app that delivers the latest headlines to you.


Gunboat diplomacy: How US military support aids Bahrain’s dictatorship

Afshin Rattansi is a journalist, author of “The Dream of the Decade – the London Novels” and an RT Contributor. He can be reached at

Published time: August 14, 2013 14:26

For now, Bahrain is where America wants to stay, crushing the hopes and dreams of anyone wanting an “Arab Spring” in the Persian Gulf.

One of the largest warships in the world, the USS Nimitz, docked in the Persian Gulf country of Bahrain in the past few days. The timing is instructive – pro-democracy protestors are preparing to demonstrate for human rights in the capital, Manama. The Nimitz, lead Flat-top of President Obama’s Carrier Strike Group 11, rolled into harbor as if to say out loud: “The United States will not tolerate democracy in this island kingdom, home to the US Fifth Fleet. The USA supports the dictatorship installed here in the 18th century.”

Confident of American support, the dictatorial Bahraini regime soon prepared deportation orders for an American human rights activist, Erin Kilbride. This month, Bahrain’s King introduced new legislation to stifle dissent. Amnesty International called the decrees “draconian measures [that] will be used in an attempt to legitimize state violence as new protests are being planned for 14 August.”

It is no surprise that US President Barack Obama continues to support anti-democratic regimes: the hallmark of his presidency has been double talk. For his political base, there is rhetorical flourish penned by his speechwriters – usually paeans to the virtues of democracy. Yet simultaneously, Obama uses federal agencies to fight unconstitutional wars against Americans and ever more brutal terror abroad against the weak, the poor and those fighting for democracy. The result of foreign policy made by Democrats in the 21st century Oval Office is clear to see: America had to shut down around 20 of its embassies for fear of attack from Al-Qaeda – groups that the USA has given succor to, via their military policies in Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan.

It is now well known – except perhaps to the media-tranquilized swathes of America’s heartland – that US policy consistently supports nebulous militancy under the banner of Al Qaeda. And it has done so since the 1980s. But President Obama’s de facto support for Al-Qaeda today has reached new dimensions. Washington is now not only recruitment sergeant for the perpetrators of 9/11, it is now active in doing the public relations, strategic planning and even resource provision for “Al Qaeda,” too. As the USA, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar attempt to destabilize the secular government of Syria, so do their weapons end up in the hands of those who wish to do harm to America and Americans. That is why so many US ambassadors had to run for the hills in the past few days.

As yet, there is no provision for “pivoting” US policy away from supporting those who wish for either an international Caliphate or perpetual royal dictatorships in the energy-rich Middle East. There are now no moves to reposition the US Fifth Fleet base. And while Bahrain’s people may weep, it is at least a bonus for Africa. For some time now, Obama’s neocon National Security Advisor Susan Rice has cast a shadow over Africa, with rumored plans of the Fifth Fleet boosting the Italian-based Sixth Fleet. The intention was to prop up Washington’s continuing destabilization efforts courtesy of US Africa Command (AFRICOM). But for now, Bahrain is where America wants to stay, crushing the hopes and dreams of anyone wanting an “Arab Spring” in the Persian Gulf.

Reuters / Hamad I Mohammed

Anti-apartheid comparisons

So what should Bahrainis, targeted by massive US military might, do to free their country from dictatorship? So far, they have opted for largely peaceful protest as their main strategy. Should they become more violent?

Peaceful protest was the strategy of the pre-Nelson Mandela African National Congress in South Africa during the fight against US- and Israeli-backed apartheid. There are parallels because South Africa had a non-white majority and Bahrain has a majority opposed to its US-backed dictators. Mandela, however, championed violence as the way to break apartheid in marked contrast to the liberal left who favored peaceful protest and trade union strike action. The rationale of the anti-apartheid protest movement before Mandela’s call to arms was that a non-white majority in South Africa could win because the people were with them. With Mandela’s rise, the armed struggle involved the killing of civilians and collaborators, employing a “by any means necessary” approach to revolution against US-backed injustice. 

Given the routine arrest, imprisonment, kidnapping and torture of Bahrainis, the tactics of the Persian Gulf’s revolutionaries are in the spotlight. Today, if Obama did not aid Bahrain’s killers, a peaceful strategy would surely still be an option. But there was a US-backed mass murder of protesters in the capital Manama in February 2011. We know from a report commissioned by the Bahraini dictatorship itself that arrests in the wake of pro-democracy protests demonstrated a pattern of behavior "designed to inspire terror in the arrested persons."

Unsurprisingly, given US (and British) support for the killing, the report outlined the use of torture to extract confessions. Torture – as we know from the case of whistleblower Bradley Manning – is becoming a hallmark of the Obama administration.

An unnamed former US government official quoted by the Reuters news agency has said that the military aid package Obama signed last year tends to communicate "business as usual" to Bahrain’s dictators. What does business as usual mean? Well, the US State Department said one year ago that exports of materiel to kill people in Bahrain totaled $1.4 billion since the beginning of 2000.

Since the protests began, Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula 1 Grand Prix races have been held on the island and as for Bahrain’s dictators, they were welcomed on the international stage at the White House and at Buckingham Palace.  August 14th 2013 may be one of the last times that peaceful protest can be tried as a means of catalyzing a democratic revolution in Bahrain. If the protestors are met with the violence of old then an urgent re-evaluation of the tactics of those fighting for liberty and revolution in Bahrain must surely be in order. If it is not violent insurrection, before all the country’s human rights leaders are killed or detained it might be sensible to apply a campaign of naming and shaming Bahrain’s Western friends.

Those wanting to see democracy in Bahrain could do worse than study those Western companies being paid by the regime to launder the nation’s reputation so that no one ever hears about this ongoing struggle. According to Bahrain Watch ( run by Bahraini activists, since February 2011, the following firms have helped sanitize the slaughter: In London - Bell Pottinger, Cloud Media Entertainment, G3, Mark Stewart Productions, M&C Saatchi, New Century Media, Olton; In Washington - BGR Group, Hill + Knowlton Strategies, Joe Trippi & Associates, Potomac Square Group, Qorvis Communications, Sanitas International and Sorini, Samet & Associates.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Comments (8)


stanny 03.10.2013 18:48

When Syria falls to the Jihadis this country will fall to them next. Then Jordan.
The Arab spring isn't over but it's producing bad results.


Person of interest 17.08.2013 10:21

[quote name='groingo' time='15.08.2013 14:17']Novosti[/quot e]

Bahrain is not a corrupt Government, the country is the same as many, they have working class, middle class and rich! Like most country's if you go to school and put in the hard work then you get a good job. These stupid idiots just want the good jobs with no hard work! As Icansee4miles says, it's all about Iran! Then they think they will take Saudi then the rest of Gulf. Bahrain is NOT a rich place, how do you think Dubai has no issues with Iran? Because they pay them off! UAE is top place with Western expats and Dubai needs to pay to keep them safe


Person of interest 17.08.2013 09:58

Icansee4miles 15.08.2013 14:58

Are you ready for the truth? That Hezbollah in Bahrain pays protesters to come out and paralyze the economy, so that the country can be delivered to Iran on a silver platter? Read The Bahrain Protocol, the new thriller on Amazon's Kindle-if you can handle the truth!


This is correct, if these people are so poor, how do they afford these protests? Iran of course!
These people send their kids out to do their dirty work, in their tiny minds kids can't be prosecuted!
They need social services over there and youth offender centers....

Iran will not win this one

View all comments (8)
Add comment

Authorization required for adding comments

Register or



Show password


or Register

Request a new password


or Register

To complete a registration check
your Email:


or Register

A password has been sent to your email address

Edit profile



New password

Retype new password

Current password



Follow us

Follow us