This file photo shows Bahrainis protestign the Al Khalifa regime.
Since the arrest of Khalil al-Marzooq, the deputy chief of the opposition al-Wefaq party, the political the situation in Bahrain has become tense.
This is while the Western media completely ignore what happens in Bahrain. While such media outlets give full coverage to the smallest explosion and insecurity in Iraq in order to question the competence of the Baghdad central government, they completely ignore the repressive behaviour of security forces against Bahraini protesters.
In this article, we aim to look at developments in Bahrain from three viewpoints: the reasons behind the Bahrain uprising, the reasons why this uprising has yielded no result and the reason why Western media ignores the developments in this Arab country.
The reasons for the Bahrain uprising
Following the successful popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, the people of Bahrain tried to follow their examples and obtain concessions from the Al Khalifa government. In the beginning, protesters stated their minimum demands which included a number of political reforms and establishing a constitutional monarchy. In truth, these demands did not target the Al Khalifa regime and Bahrainis only wanted to participate in the political governance of the country as well as in determining its future.
The main reason behind the Bahrain uprising can be sought in the institutional, financial and ethical corruption of the Al Khalifa regime, which had become more pronounced in Bahrain in recent years.
This Persian Gulf littoral state is completely dominated by the royal family and for example 98 percent of the country’s coasts are considered Al Khalifa property and off-limits for Bahrainis.
In recent years, Bahrain has turned into a haven for criminals. Mafias trafficking human organs and women have become organized in this country. This has turned Manama into one of the most important crime centers in the world.
Ethnic and religious discrimination in Bahrain has resulted in some pundits saying the country is governed by a regime similar to the South African apartheid. This being said, the Bahraini uprising was in essence a civil rights movement.
Because of these conditions, Bahrainis on Feb 14, 2011 rose up against the Al Khalifa regime. Political activists in Bahrain have named this day “Day of Rage” and asked people to state their demands by staging protests. The first part of Bahraini demands was political reforms. They wanted the prime minister and head of administration to be elected by the people like other democratic governments.
They also wanted political activists and Shia clerics who had been jailed since August 2010 to be released. Bahrainis also wanted the Shura Council, which has 40 members who are appointed by the Al Khalifa, to be dissolved. Bahrain currently has 28 ministers; 17 of the key ministries are controlled by Al Khalifa.
Freedom of political activities, freedom of speech and establishment of parties were among the other demands of the Bahrainis in the beginning of the uprising. Ending political and religious discriminations were among the other legitimate demands of Bahrainis.
Why the Bahraini uprising did not achieve its objectives?
Bahrainis showed that they would continue their peaceful protest until their demands are met, but unfortunately after thirty months, they achieved nothing. Hundreds of Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds more have been arrested. The reason for the failure of this protest can be analyzed from the domestic, regional and international perspectives.
In the beginning of the uprising, certain groups supporting the Al Khalifa, intelligence forces along with Bahraini media tried to portray the democracy-seeking uprising of Bahrainis as a Shia uprising trying to overthrow the Sunni rulers of the country and installing Shias in power.
In other words, they succeeded in giving a Shia face to this uprising. Therefore, the Sunni part of the population was hesitating to join the uprising. Gradually, however, with the vigilance of the people and the arrest of the Sunni political activists, the Bahraini uprising turned into a completely popular one.
However, regional and international factors are the main reasons for the failure of the Bahrainis to achieve victory. The cooperation of [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) security forces, headed by Saudi Arabia, with Bahraini security forces in repressing the people and the international community overlooking the crimes committed by the Bahraini regime in violating the human rights of its people are the main reasons for the Bahraini uprising’s failure.
Ignoring Bahrain’s developments
In the 21st century which has been dubbed as century of information revolution by pundits, media has played an important role in international developments. Currently, the people of a small town in China will learn about a shooting which takes place in Chicago just as a Kentucky farmer learns about the execution of a thief in a city in Indonesia.
In this era of information and explosion of news, the important issue is the manner of news coverage by media. In general, Western media compared to other world media give coverage to a larger number of people. These media outlets can at whim zoom their camera lenses on a specific region and draw the attention of the rest of the world in that location and ultimately give people the information they want.
However, the developments in Bahrain, the repeated violation of human rights in the country, widespread crackdowns and arrests have failed to attract the attention of media outlets. In other words, they don’t want people to pay attention to this crisis region so that pressure from public opinion will not lead to the repressive Al Khalifa regime’s fall.
Western media which have strong ties with US and Israeli politicians will not benefit from the fall of the Al Khalifa regime and will instead incur heavy losses.
One of the most important US military bases in the Persian Gulf is located in Bahrain. At the same time, the Al Khalifa family has special relations with the Zionist regime. The Zionists and the US are both aware that if a popular and democratic regime governs people they will no longer be able to maintain their current position there.
In conclusion, it can be said that because of the strong Western media ties with US and Israeli politicians unless the Bahraini regime’s existence is no longer in the interest of Washington and Tel Aviv Bahrainis cannot hope for fundamental change in their country. Of course, if crackdowns intensify, non-governmental organizations and independent media might be able to assist the Bahrainis in achieving their goals.