With the bloody conflict in Libya drawing to a close, Western media attention seems to be focusing on the situation in Syria. But while some revolutions have managed to gain the spotlight, others have been ignored. While blood flows on the streets of Damascus and Homs, anti-government protests continue in both Yemen and Bahrain, and both revolutions have been brutally suppressed. Yet when Gaddafi killed protestors on the streets of Benghazi, the violence was condemned, and before long, NATO had begun its operations in Libya. Is it then that the plights of the Bahraini and Yemeni peoples are less important than those of Libyans and Syrians? That is simply not true.
The Yemeni uprising is in fact one of the oldest protests of the Arab Spring as demonstrations have been ongoing since February, calling for the resignation and trial of Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled Yemen with an iron fist for 33 years. Saleh, much like Gaddafi, refuses to leave office, preferring instead to kill his own people in a desperate attempt to cling onto power. However, Saleh has paid a price for this; an explosion killed some of his closest advisors, and left him with life threatening injuries. Unlike the thousands that have been wounded on the streets of Sana’a, Saleh went to neighbouring Saudi Arabia for medical treatment before returning to Yemen. Meanwhile, the bloodbath in the country continued.
But let us not forget the kingdom of Bahrain, known for its conservative politics and towering sky scrapers. The ruling Al Khalifa family profess Sunni Islam, while the majority of Bahraini citizens are Shiite Muslims, and this has lead to tension between the monarchy and its citizens, as Shiites claimed they do not possess the same political representation as the Sunni minority. The situation spilled over into violence, as the Bahraini Government began a campaign of brutality, targeting doctors and nurses who had helped treat victims, with many disappearing. All this was done with the backing of Saudi Arabia, who even sent troops to Bahrain in order to quell the uprising. However, the situation is far more complicated than that.
Lurking in the shadows are Israel and the United States, both of which have interests in Bahrain. The U.S 5th fleet is stationed in Bahrain, which is crucial to Washington’s current policies in the region. Israel’s interests in Bahrain are much more secretive, as the Bahraini Government refuses to acknowledge its links with Israel, but they do exist. The fact that a Bahraini Jew was appointed the ambassador to the U.S came as a surprise to many, but there are indications that a “special relationship” does exist between Israel and many of the Persian Gulf States. Naturally, the 5th fleet also has close intelligence connections to the Mossad- the Israeli Secret Service. In any case, there is no doubt that their interests are very much the same-the ruling Khalifa family, Washington, and Tel Aviv.
For decades, double standards have come into play regarding Western policy towards the Middle East, and unfortunately, the Arab Spring is no different. While we champion the Egyptian, Tunisian and Libyan revolutions, many in the West prefer to turn a blind eye to Bahrain and Yemen. We must remember that it was Britain that once sold snipers to Gaddafi, and that, according to documents found by the Libyan rebels in Tripoli, the CIA also had strong links with the regime. In conclusion, both the Saleh and Khalifa regimes have instigated a methodical and ‘covert’ operation to quell the resistance, and regrettably, this attempt has been met with some success. For the Bahraini and Yemeni revolutions to succeed, they need the support of the world. We must wait and see if this support is given, or if the world is content to watch thousands be slaughtered on the streets of Sana’a and Manama.