October 30, 2012

Bahraini Monarchy Asks For More Rebellion: "All Rallies Banned"

One day after a former admiral of the Fifth Fleet published a laughable defense of Bahrain's monarchy, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and his royal circle have flashed their true colors for all to see. Of course the King's American loyalists appear to be irreparably blinded by the island's military use vis-à-vis Iran, but their arrogance may seriously threaten U.S. interests at some future moment.

In the immediate term, one of the fastest ways to explode any trend is to ban it.

On Tuesday Bahrain's Interior Minister, a hawkish instrument of King Hamad's power, announced the monarchy's decision "to stop all rallies and gatherings until ensuring that security is maintained through achieving the targeted security to protect national unity and social fabric to fight extremism." Lieutenant-General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa manifests the kingdom's ongoing attempt to delegitimize Bahrain's pro-democracy opposition, so his rhetoric comes as no surprise to protesters and opposition leaders. Turning youthful and revolution-minded individuals into "terrorists" and "extremists" is standard procedure for Bahrain's monarchy, a borrowed tactic used by autocracies for the last half century.

The Interior Minister argued that King Hamad, "has strived in the previous phase to protect freedom of expression by allowing rallies and gatherings, but that privilege has been abused repeatedly by organizers’ violations and the participants’ lack of commitment to the legal regulations."

Denying the violent elements of Bahrain's opposition is a non-starter. Rather, their actions are justified by the government's disproportionate crackdown on a largely peaceful movement for greater representation and human rights. Governments bear a higher level of responsibility than non-government organizations, and starting a protest at a funeral is trumped by gassing that protest. King Hamad committed a fatal error when summoning Saudi Arabia and the GCC's Peninsula Shield (along with Jordanian and Pakistani mercenaries) early into a national crisis. Repeated attempts to stage a hollow "National Dialogue" robbed the process of its credibility, and the King's hyped Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) functions as a diversion away from the fundamental issues of parliamentary and judiciary reform - and growing calls to strip Hamad of his powers.

Many Bahrainis on Twitter also pointed out that the government already maintains a lockdown on certain areas of the capital and recently banned the oppositional Al Wefaq from protesting in Manama. When combined with the unwavering assault on a large segment of Bahrain's population, the opposition has no reason to trust anything the monarchy says or does. Protesters shouldn't be forced to hide or deny a legitimate resistance to autocracy - the degenerate form of monarchy - even though non-violence better serves the opposition as a whole. Bahrain's royal circle continues to treat an uprising as a passing fad, where everyone must stay in orderly lines and protest in designated areas to minimize public disturbances.

The objective of an uprising is to disrupt daily life and the greater status quo, and basic asymmetric warfare aims for a state's economic pressure points.

The Interior Minister eventually lowers his guard by condemning all "for the overthrowing of leading national figures and sovereignty of the state," acts he describes as "devoid of respect" and intended for "humiliation." Due to the monarchy's own actions, no one is more responsible for the street's anti-Hamad chants than the King himself. Protests against his ban have already mobilized.

Of equally urgent importance, Bahrain's Interior Minister reveals the next phase in King Hamad's suppressive crackdown against Bahrain's pro-democracy opposition. Having incarcerated many of Bahrain's political figures and handcuffed them in legal warfare, the government is now threatening to prosecute the same organizers that it clams to have coordinated with to "tackle violations." They failed to control their demonstrations "despite their promises," al-Khalifa added, as though King Hamad has kept his own, and now "anyone that would have a connection with such irregularities would be held accountable."

Bahrain's Interior Minister is essentially declaring the monarchy's attempt to eliminate the opposition's command structure, from its local to intentional levels. The U.S. government has yet to respond to this latest development.

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