Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bahrain: veteran peace campaigner says Bahrain royal family lost legitimacy to rule

London, April 30, IRNA – The ruling al-Khalifa family in Bahrain has made a “basic error” by effectively agreeing to abolish their own emirate so the country could be ruled indefinitely as a Saudi protectorate, says veteran peace campaigner William Spring.

“Pressured by (US Defence Secretary) Robert Gates they went along with the invasion of their own country by the Saudis, which means they have lost forever their legitimacy to rule,” said Spring, director of Christians against Nato aggression (CANAUK).

In an interview with IRNA, he said that the protest movement in Bahrain was initially regarded as a part of the Arab Spring, a genuine movement of discontent of the majority of the population.

Instead, it has been “defined in power politics terms and interpreted as threat, an attack on vital US strategic interests, as Bahrain is headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet”, the British peace campaigner said.

He said that before Gates' intervention and the Saudi invasion, “the protesters were divided, and not all of them wanted to get rid of The Bahrain Monarchy, what some wanted was a constitutional arrangement.”

His overall view of the Arab protests is that the first phase was a spontaneous uprising of the masses in North Africa, first Tunisia and then Egypt, provoked by many factors, with economic issues paramount, but also with human rights issues to the fore.

“That first phase, genuine revolution, was then succeeded by phase two, where genuine concerns and protest/insurrectionary movements were taken over by the power politics of the region.

Apart from Bahrain, this included Libya, where Spring said “it's very evident that the western powers have sought to take over and control the insurrectionary movements in Libya for their own purposes.”

“But NATO has now got the worst of all worlds: belligerents in the war against Gadaffi, they aren't willing to do what it takes (mass invasion of the country by ground troops) to overthrow him decisively - so the regime is kept in power, a civil war maintained and protracted.”

On the other hand, he said that the Libyan opposition meanwhile continues to receive NATO support every day and is becoming “more discredited.”

With regard to the situation in Syria, the Christian peace campaigner said that this again is part of the regional conflict and “it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Israel, if not exactly originating the protests, is influencing them in some way.”

The dilemma, he suggested, was while Israel was desperate to get rid of President Bashir Assad, overthrowing his government “will not necessarily produce a more pro-Israel regime.”

Spring said the Syrian situation was also different from that of Egypt, as in Egypt, the Coptic Christians welcomed the revolution against former president Hosni Mubarak, but in Syria the Church has spoke out in favour of Assad, whose Baathist Party allowed religious freedom and was not a US client state of Saudi Arabia.

Despite the spreading insecurity and instability, he believed that unlike Tunisia and Egypt, Assad was “more willing to enter into dialogue, but not with parties aiming to disrupt the state in the interests of Israel, or of parties seeking only violent solutions.”

Another major factor Spring saw was that the West had overreached itself, including in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have “weakened the USA militarily.”

Equally were the effects of the economic downturn, which he said had caused the current situation to become “so extremely dangerous”, shifting real power to the BRICS, consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“The EU and the USA are stagnant economically, in debt and really unable to afford constant military interventions, nor in the case of the USA and its annual subsidy to Israel.

His analysis was that US power for many years has resided not merely with the military-industrial complex “but worse with that complex as headed up by pro Israeli apologists and Zionists, including so-called Christian Zionists".

Note: To see articles on Bahrain from other sources and for a different perspective, please click the "Bahrain" label