|code: 311016||Date: 2012/04/25 - 16:17||source: FNA|
Former CIA Director Calls on US to Pull Fleet out of Bahrain
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Emile Nakleh, a former director of the CIA Political Islam strategic analysis program and author of 'Bahrain: Political Development in a Modernizing Society', argued in commentary on Financial Times that this US strategy is based on the false assumption that the Sunni world is monolithic, adding that Washington's policies are against the Shiite communities because Americans believe that Shiite Arab communities all turn to Iran for theological guidance and political support.
But in reality, Sunni Muslims have diverse cultural, political and social goals and are not preoccupied, as some Persian Gulf rulers are, with anti-Shiite or anti-Iran rhetoric and policies, it added.
The commentary continues below:
Invented in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the Sunni strategy was presented to the West as a defense plan against Iran. Unfortunately, Washington bought this bogus claim lock, stock and barrel for misconceived regional security considerations.
A few years back, some Sunni Arab leaders, including those of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, warned of a rising "Shiite crescent" across the Arab world, including the Persian Gulf. My analysts and I, however, briefed senior US policy makers that Sunni regimes used the Shiite scare to muzzle their domestic opposition and paper over genuine grievances. In a report on the "Shaykhly" rulers of the Persian Gulf, we judged those regimes must address their peoples' grievances if they hoped to survive in the long run. The "Shiite crescent" claim was a tactic to hide discrimination and repression against Shiite communities. Bahrain is the most glaring example.
Since the 1970s, the Bahraini government has accused the Shiite majority of being a front for Iran and urged America to expand its naval presence in the Persian Gulf as a protective shield against the perceived Iranian threat. Washington accepted the Bahraini position despite the fact that the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain in that period was primarily Sunni.
The pro-reform demands, then and now, called for a constitution, free elections, an independent judiciary and a curtailment on the powers of the executive. The prime minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman, and his traditionalist allies in the ruling family objected to reforms and viewed all opposition as a threat to the dynasty. The ruler then - father of the present king - prevailed with his reform-minded allies within the family over the conservative faction.
To end the current violence and the regime's human rights violations, three steps must be taken. First, western powers must strengthen the pro-reform faction in the ruling family. Second, Washington should urge the king to remove the prime minister, his uncle, from office; many Bahrainis think he symbolizes corruption, repression and unyielding opposition to political reform. He has worked closely with Saudi Crown Prince Nayef to undermine the pro-democracy movement in the Arab world, especially in Bahrain.
Third, America should send a clear message to Bahrain's regime to halt violence against the Shiite and act on all the recommendations of the Independent Commission of Inquiry. Washington should also begin to pull its Fifth Fleet out of Bahrain.
The huge US naval presence in Bahrain has not improved western security in the Persian Gulf; has not altered Iran's behavior; and, more important, has not silenced the anti-regime opposition in the Persian Gulf and in other Arab countries. Nor has it given the al-Khalifa and other Sunni regimes more legitimacy. Instead, its presence has arguably increased Iran's wall of defense and given Sunni regimes, including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the false impression that Washington has given them a license to kill their own people.
Moving the US military presence from Bahrain to "over the horizon" would be a clear signal that Arab dictatorship will no longer be tolerated.
The Formula One cars did eventually race in Bahrain, but calls for reform have become chants for regime change. Regime obfuscation will not be able to silence demands for justice and the right to live freely forever.