FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bahrain: Last Throes of a Desperate Regime

by RANNIE AMIRI

Since Bahrain’s uprising against absolute monarchal rule began in the wake of last year’s Arab Spring, the al-Khalifa regime has brazenly trampled over the civil and human rights of its people. This past week it stripped 31 citizens of their nationality, effectively leaving them stateless and in legal limbo. Repealing citizenship signals that increasingly desperate measures are being employed by the government to quell the as-yet undeterred rebellion.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency announced the Ministry of Interior’s decree:

According to clause (c) of Article (10) of the Citizenship Law which permits the re-evaluation of nationality when a holder of the Bahraini citizenship causes damage to state security, the Bahraiin citizenship of the following individuals have been revoked:

Among those listed were lawyers, clerics, former MPs, opposition figures and political activists. Most were Bahrainis of Persian origin (Ajam), others the island’s ethnic Arab inhabitants (Baharna). Some currently reside in Bahrain, many are already in exile.

The Western media chose to identify the activists as “Shi’ite.” Unfortunately they succumbed to reporting the story through the same sectarian prism characteristic of the al-Khalifa worldview, which is to classify everyone based on religious affiliation. Doing so immediately shifts focus away from the legitimacy of political demands to non-existent religious ones. It also plays into the insinuated, ulterior motives of which the Shia community has traditionally been accused.

The message was not subtle: the monarchy determines who is a citizen, loyal to its edicts and unchallenged rule, and who is not. And it is the island’s Shia Muslims, forming its overwhelmingly majority, who are considered the disloyal and untrustworthy—the proverbial “fifth column.” The escalating rhetoric of the United States and Gulf Cooperation Countries toward Iran provided adequate cover to single out the Ajam.

This is ironic, considering the al-Khalifa family themselves are not indigenous to Bahrain. They first came to the island as pirates from al-Zubarah, on the northwest coast of Qatar. This is why many protest signs carry the slogan telling them, “your ziarah (visit) is over, go back to al-Zubarah!”

Historical origins should be put aside however. They likewise obfuscate the present-day intimidation and violence perpetrated against those peacefully seeking reform and accountability in government. What cannot be overlooked however, is the Citizenship Law cited by the Interior Ministry.

It is this law which gives expedited citizenship to Sunni, non-Bahraini nationals (largely from North Africa, Syria and Pakistan) who are then employed exclusively in the country’s security services. This law codifies the regime’s policy of sectarian manipulation and gerrymandering, a backdoor attempt to alter the island’s demographics by diluting the number of Shia Muslims.

The “outside interference” canard has also been used to accuse Hezbollah and Iran of acting on behalf of the Shia, as if 21 months of a brutal crackdown were not enough to engender mass discontent. The opposition and imprisoned leaders like Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab, on the other hand, never talk of religious school but speak the language of dignity, justice and ending the political and socioeconomic repression of all Bahrainis.

Despite mass arrests, torture and show trials to which the United States and other Western nations have turned a blind eye, the Bahraini royal family has failed to halt protests calling for free, fair and elected representation. To repeal and annul one’s nationality will similarly fail as have all previous measures. The cause for which Bahrainis strive is far higher than being called an obedient subject of a dynasty that has ruled Bahrain for more than two centuries.

When their efforts are successful, the al-Khalifa family will not be stripped of their citizenship for even they will be accorded that privilege. They will instead be stripped of their crowns and thrones, put on trial, and made to answer for the crimes committed against their people … Bahraini, Baharna, Ajam, Sunni and Shia alike.

Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator. 

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail