The events of the so-called Arab spring in February 2011 when it appeared in Bahrain did not manifest themselves overnight and most certainly had nothing to do with democracy, human rights or freedom as many would have the world believe. Neither did they occur in a theological, ideological or political vacuum. The events, the timing was in part opportunistic, however they were never spontaneous but were preplanned. It was a moment in time seized upon by the countries leading Shiite clerics as part of Khomeini’s larger ambition for Shiite domination of the Islamic World.
The plan, a coup d'etat, was intended to establish an Ayatollah as the Supreme Leader of an Islamist Republic explicitly “justified and organized on the principles of the guardianship of the jurisprudent (velayat-e faqih)” on the lines of that proposed in Iran by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. The selection of February 14th for initiating the coup, not the first Bahrain has seen, was no accident. 14 is an auspicious number for Bahrain’s Shiite theocrats. The country is often claimed by Iran as its 14th state and the 14th was the day that Bahrain had held in February 2002 its constitutional referendum, the National Action Charter. 98.2% had voted yes in its support. The events of February 2011 were intended as a clear message from the theocracy to the world of a belated rejection of the referendum result and their intent to honour Iran’s claim.
The coup d'etat had been many years in the making. It involved the establishment of numerous sleeper cells of Shiite activists, intellectuals and workers in hospitals, human rights societies, trade Unions, Universities, NGO’s and Ministries aided by Hezbollah trained and inspired terror cells on the street under a financial umbrella courtesy of certain wealthy Shia businessmen. The use of fatwas and the pulpit ensured the plan had widespread support in Shiite communities, an aid in the creation, using radicalized youngsters, of the provision of an army of foot soldiers.
Timing is everything, in the planning process, so one can imagine the glee in the Matams; the clerics must have jumped with joy, when “Big Brother” stepped covertly and conveniently into this mix. “God bless America,” when in 2002 the “Middle East Partnership Initiative” (MEPI) first saw the light of day. This was a program specifically designed to alter the internal politics of the targeted countries in favor of U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives; Bahrain was one such selected country. The program was tailor-made and could be manipulated to gel neatly with the ambitions of the theocrats. The programs functionality was centered on the use of dissidents to undermine and destabilize a country to bring about regime change. They had the dissidents, the militants and the cause already waiting in the wings, opportunity and legitimacy were the only missing ingredients, MEPI would provide them with both.
Unquestionably far more politically perceptive than Government agencies, the theocrats saw the MEPI program as a golden opportunity to spike US foreign policy in their favor, one that would ensure the ascendancy of their revolutionary “Iranian style Republic.” Would see it promoted, not by them but by the worlds leading foreign power broker as a valid cause, neatly packaged in the language of human rights, equality, freedom and democracy.
Advocacy for the MEPI program had been designed around using local NGO’s, a common language and vocabulary, one that created a vision of a majority suffering marginalization, discrimination, exclusion and abuse, pitted against a minority-supported monarchy that was both draconian and dictatorial. The theocrats had calculated correctly, that if supported and proliferated in the name of the people by “Big Brother,” legitimacy for the cause as a “David versus a Goliath” type struggle, would be guaranteed.
The MEPI program was based on the concept of cause and effect, the Bahrain government’s sensitivity to its image abroad and a perceived predictability, a calculable reaction or response to forced events. Perfect for the theocrats it was however, essential to their plans that it was their activists that were planted; embedded deep within the MEPI program to become, be accepted as the programs local mouthpieces. Revolutionary militant and activists as a consequence were rebranded, retrained as human rights activists and defenders at America’s expense, groomed in the new age of multi-media activism under NDI, IPI, NED, USAID programs. The most notorious implants were direct family member of already well-established hardline militants, people involved in previous attempted coups. The families of Abdulhadi Al Khawajah, Hasan Al Mashaima, and Saeed Shehabi were inducted, followers like Nabeel Rajab, Lamees Daif, Matar Matar and Sayed Alwadaei who have since risen to prominence to name but a few, were initially bit part players slightly more distanced from the mainstream activists. A host of both foreign and local NGO’s suddenly sprang up, in reality clandestine organizations sympathetic to the cause, created to act as both a cover and provide an apparent legitimate host for the new voices. Their primary purpose was that of pushing a dissident agenda as being one that was representative of the “aspirations of the people,” wrapped up in the doublespeak of the MEPI program. Activists would provide bare bone factual news spiced up and laced by the inclusion of distortions, false claims, fabrications, allegations, and hearsay, delivered to the western media with a professionalism normally associated with seasoned network news anchors.
From 2002, the MEPI and its network of exulted cohorts, worked hand in glove with its lame NGO’s and Bahrain’s Shiite political societies to lay the groundwork, souring and seeding the media with their propaganda. MEPI eased the way for selected activists to enter the fabric of international organizations and to be accepted as “Representative’ by the western media. By the time the spotlight reached Bahrain in February 2011 when the coup with the occupation of the Pearl roundabout started, the truth no longer had any relevance.
Once at the roundabout its leaders soon revealed the true nature of their plan. To calls of “death to Hamad” under hanging effigies of the Royal Family, the Republic was announced. This was no Magna Carter moment; the MEPI sponsored plan was abandoned, floundering in the water as support for Velayat-e faqih came to the fore, democracy its strange bedfellow left gasping for breath. Unnoticed but the media when exposed this episode caused barely a ripple on the international scene, a slight embarrassment for the US, easily overcome by denials of involvement. When Government loyalists turned out in tens of thousands at Al Fatah Mosque mirroring in size if not supplanting the numbers of those parading in support of the theocrats, a clear statement that the real majority rejected any sectarian inspired republic, it was a point not lost on the Americans who seemed at that juncture, to pull the plug, and temporarily abandoned a sinking ship. Mainstream media as is still the case today fed on a diet of worms from embedded activists however failed to notice the hic-up. They preferred and continued to chase activist sound bites and their dramatic headlines. A policy of Bahrain bashing became the norm; it remains till this day a poor substitute for proper western journalism. Having witnessed first hand, in real time, every nuance of the convoluted story line for Bahrain’s so called revolution, I find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that the western media and some of the greatest democratic institutions in the US, UK, and EU even today are prepared to prostitute their reputations on behalf a myths created in support of U.S. foreign policy.
Failure is always an option for a mythbusters but to those people who still hang onto the belief that there exists in Bahrain a mythical 70% Shia majority living in a political vacuum, a black hole need to explain; how, in last Novembers’ general election, despite a mass boycott and a campaign of intimidation by this mythical self-proclaiming majority, 53% of the electorate still turned out and voted. In the previous election of 2010 when no boycott was applied, the turnout had been 67%. Mathematicians could have a field day with that result and the reality of any mythical majority.
They need to also to answer when making accusations of gerrymandering, playing with constituency boundary by the government, how this affected the outcome of the elections, when the reality is that Sunni-loyalist political societies won only four seats out of the 40, a significant loss. Furthermore how changes to “due process” in the working of government and parliament as adopted from the last round of the national dialogue, changes that resulted in the elected house taking ascendancy over the appointed Shura among other procedural processes, now render the election results irrelevant.
Yes the government of Bahrain has accepted that it did in 2011 take actions, deemed by the BICI report at the boundaries of international norms but those actions when compared to those taken by western nations particularly the US when their internal security is threatened, pale into insignificance. This is not intended as an excuse but when one sees as a consequence Bahrain alone, singled out and feted as demonic or dictatorial by the media, the rational remains obscure unless of course it is put into perspective, it is intentional. Just part of the process of demonization.
This week several policemen were firebombed set afire on a public street; one remains in a critical condition. Last week two other were injured, one seriously in an IED bomb explosion at a filling station toilet. In fact since mid-2013, only two rioters have died during clashes with police while militants have killed 8 police and one civilian as a result of bomb attacks. The number of injured police now stands over 2800. We in Bahrain, mainstream Sunni, Shia and expatriates alike have had enough; if one takes the 30% apathetic who never voted in 2010 adds that to the 53% that did in 2014 it becomes clear that a mythical opposition majority never existed.
People seem unaware that terrorism is not restricted to the abomination that is Daesh or to Al Qaeda Sunni fanatics, it is, has been and always will also be part of theocratic Shiite doctrine as long as the world allows Iran to export its theocratic revolutionary zeal to other parts of the Islamic world unopposed as it has succeeded in doing in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and now Yemen.
The root cause for street violence in Bahrain carried out largely by young kids at the bequests of their cowardly peers even today remains as it was, for support for a Shiite Jihad, martyrdom in pursuit of Velayat-e faqih. The level of violence and its direction, remains in the hands of and at the dictate of a hard core of theocratic leaders.