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Al Khalifah seeks to silence opposition in Bahrain: Analyst

Bahrain’s King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah (File photo)

Press TV has interviewed Colin Cavell, an author and lecturer in West Virginia, to discuss a court ruling ratified by the Bahraini king, which revokes the citizenship of top Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim.

A rough transcription of the interview appears below.


Press TV: Well tell me about this, when we look at now that it appeared the monarch himself actually approved of revoking the citizenship of Sheikh Qassim, what does that say in general about the current status quo in Bahrain?

Cavell: By signing this decree the king is boldly stating that he is going to silence all opposition within the country and that he is doing it with the agreement of the hegemon, the United States.

Now Vice President Joe Biden called the king yesterday to express concern about this crackdown in Bahrain where they have recently revoked the citizenship of over 250 people, they have revoked the citizenship of Bahrain’s most prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, they have suspended the activities of the largest opposition party, al-Wefaq and they have prevented many of the main activists from attending the United Nations human rights meeting in the last week and they have also extended the prison term of Sheikh Ali Salman, the leader of al-Wefaq, and they have got rid of Nabeel Rajab by putting him in jail, extended term, and also by forcing the ouster of Zainab al-Khawaja from the kingdom, threatening her with long-term prison sentence.

So the king and the Al Khalifah dictatorship in Bahrain want to silence all opposition and the concern on the part of the US is that this is going to provoke a counter-response from the opposition. To the extent that there is no counter-response, to the extent that the opposition remains silent, the king will continue his repression, the king, the monarchy will continue to jail and to torture and to silence anybody who speaks up against the monarchy.   

Press TV: Well how much of this is likely now to backfire? We have had those who are experts on Bahrain say that with the marginalizing of the leading Shia cleric and perhaps deportation even, what is going to happen is actually it will make those who are demonstrating actually become more aggressive because individuals such as Sheikh Qassim were actually the ones that were trying to direct the demonstrators and to make sure that it continued to be peaceful? How likely is that situation, that possibility to take place?

Cavell: Well historically whenever any type of regime or government silences opposition and does not allow any type of outlets or political expression or any type of freedom of association or freedom of thought, then this usually will force the opposition into extremist actions and that has historically been the case in all governments. It was the case when the United States formed its government and they talked about it in various Federalist Papers, so it is likely that this will happen.

What we have seen so far in Bahrain is protest at Sheikh Isa Qassim house, we have seen a bombing ... just yesterday, so we’ll have to see what develops the opposition.

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