• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683. Note: This annoying box will disappear once we reach our fund drive goal. Thank you for your support!


Fractures in Bahrain


Senior Bahraini police officers suspended for torturing detainees are being swiftly reinstated in a sign of a growing struggle for power within the al-Khalifa royal family over the extent of the repression to be used against pro-democracy protesters.

In addition, 90 Jordanian officers, serving in the Bahraini police force and alleged to have mistreated prisoners, are having their contracts terminated and are being sent back to Jordan, opposition sources saidt. They say it is not clear if this is to purge the security forces of the worst offenders or to get rid of witnesses to the wholesale use of torture when the government crushed the Arab Awakening movement in Bahrain in March.

Increasing divisions within the Sunni royal family are becoming more blatant as statements by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa aimed at conciliating the majority Shia community are not followed up by action. Though he told state and private companies to reinstate the 2,500 employees sacked for taking part in pro-democracy protests, many have been unable to get their old jobs back.

The government’s actions are also contradictory. Earlier this month it suspended several senior police officers, some of them members of the al-Khalifa ruling family, after they were accused of being implicated in torturing prisoners. One officer held an important position at Riffa police station, notorious for the use of torture, and another was a section chief of the CID. Demonstrations by Sunni in Riffa in favour of the suspended officers were followed by the immediate reinstatement of at least one of the men.

The hardliners in the royal family are led by the army commander, Khalifa bin Ahmed, and his brother, the Royal Court Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed. They were once at odds with the Prime Minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman, who has held his job for 40 years since the British left in 1971, but they closed ranks when the Arab Awakening started in February in Bahrain, sparked by pro-democracy uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

The largely peaceful demonstrations centred on Pearl Square in the middle of the Bahraini capital Manama, but the government reacted as if it was facing an armed insurrection. A Saudi-led military force crossed the causeway from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain in the middle of March and a brutal crackdown followed with mass arrests and use of torture. Forensic experts brought in by an investigating commission verified that 63 detainees had been so severely mistreated that marks of torture were still visible three or four months later.

The hardliners in the royal family, supported by Saudi Arabia, have sought to marginalise Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad, seen as the most liberal royal. Before the March crackdown he sought to work out an agreement with al-Wifaq, the main opposition party. Since then he, along with King Hamad, has lost much of his authority.

The government crackdown was accompanied by the state media launching an anti-Shia campaign, claiming, without any evidence, that Iran had fomented armed rebellion against the al-Khalifa dynasty. Sectarian hatreds increased, leading to Sunni-run private companies and state organisations refusing to re-employ sacked Shia employees despite the King’s order.

Mohammed Sadiq of Justice for Bahrain says that among those sacked who have not been re-employed are 24 Shia journalists, working on Al-Ayam newspaper, who were fired on 16 March. Some 402 workers at Aluminium Bahrain (almost all Shia) were sacked and only 50 have been re-employed though they have had to sign new employment contracts whereby they lose all annual leave and sickness benefits.

The continuing repression has not returned stability to Bahrain and is not likely to do so. There are nightly protests in Shia districts with the police using rubber bullets and stun grenades. Occasional deaths of protesters enrage the Shia community. Particular fury was caused by the death of Ali Jawad al-Sheikh, 14, apparently killed by a tear gas grenade fired at point-blank range.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of “Muqtada: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

October 13, 2015
Dave Lindorff
US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital
Steve Martinot
The Politics of Prisons and Prisoners
Heidi Morrison
A Portrait of an Immigrant Named Millie, Drawn From Her Funeral
Andre Vltchek
Horrid Carcass of Indonesia – 50 Years After the Coup
Jeremy Malcolm
All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared
Omar Kassem
Do You Want to See Turkey Falling Apart as Well?
Paul Craig Roberts
Recognizing Neocon Failure: Has Obama Finally Come to His Senses?
Theodoros Papadopoulos
The EU Has Lost the Plot in Ukraine
Roger Annis
Ukraine Threatened by Government Negligence Over Polio
Matthew Stanton
The Vapid Vote
Mel Gurtov
Manipulating Reality: Facebook is Listening to You
Louisa Willcox
Tracking the Grizzly’s Number One Killer
Binoy Kampmark
Assange and the Village Gossipers
Robert Koehler
Why Bombing a Hospital Is a War Crime
Jon Flanders
Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation
Mark Hand
Passion and Pain: Photographer Trains Human Trafficking Survivors
October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria