Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Bahrain’s contribution to the Arab Spring

The Bahraini government used the spectre of sectarian violence to justify their crackdown on peaceful protesters.

The Arab silence on the continued repression of the Bahraini people is a shameful episode that does not fit the era of the Arab revolution. It is also a testimony to the determination of the US-backed Gulf political order - that is leading the effort to place a cap on change in the Arab World - to prevent the revolution from reaching its member states.
The relative success of isolating the Bahraini movement by fomenting sectarian fears is regretfully a sign that the Arab Spring has not succeeded in doing away with sectarian prejudices that are not only impeding  effective solidarity, but threaten to tear up some Arab uprisings.
Part of the problem is that the Arab uprisings have not yet radically changed the official Arab order that consists of governments that have fed sectarian divisions to ensure their longevity. The fact that Bahrain’s population is 70 per cent Shia but is ruled by an authoritarian Sunni royal family have made it possible for governments to claim an Iranian scheme to undermine the stability of the Gulf and consequently the Arab world.

In fact, the people of Bahrain have given the regime several chances to reform, but repression will only drive people towards endorsing more radical demands of overthrowing the regime.
Although Bahrain is a young country, its history has shown that repression did not prevent the struggle for political freedoms to resume. It is about time that Arabs stood unequivocally with the Bahraini people who contributed to the Arab Spring, even as the Arab Spring failed them.
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