The violence in Bahrain is nothing new. For instance, Human Rights Watch noted it had documented systematic human right abuses before and during a crackdown on February 26th, including the
“use of lethal force against demonstrators, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and abuse and ill-treatment of detainees picked up by security forces during demonstrators”.
As well as:
“….attacks against paramedics whom police prevented from providing timely and critical care to those wounded following the early morning attack against protesters camped out at the Pearl Roundabout [the scene of the crackdown]”.
It is also known that Bahrain is particularily friendly to Western Interests, notably the US Military, as well as many financial and oil multinationals. Stephen Zunes notes in a piece for Foreign Policy in Focus:
"The fortress-like U.S. embassy in Manama is probably the largest embassy relative to the population of the host country of any in the world. The U.S. military in Bahrain, which directs the Fifth Fleet and the U.S. Naval Central Command, controls roughly one-fifth of this small nation, making the southern part of the island essentially off-limits to Bahrainis. For more than 20 years, approximately 1,500 Americans have been stationed at the base (which the U.S. government refers to as a “forward operations center”), supporting operations and serving as homeport for an additional 15,000 sailors……………
Indeed, economic interests also draw the two nations together. Bahrain was the first Arab country to produce oil back in 1932. Standard Oil of California (now Chevron), later joined by Texaco, succeeded in controlling the country’s oil industry through ownership of the Bahrain Petroleum Company, until the Bahraini government purchased the company in 1980. In 2005, Bahrain became the first Persian Gulf state to sign a free trade agreement with the United States. The government has embarked upon a massive privatization program in recent years—selling banks, financial services, telecommunication, and other public assets to private interests. The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom ranks Bahrain as having the “freest” economy in the Middle East and the tenth “freest” in the world.”
Furthermore, it is likely the US Military has historically undermined the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain. Michael Slackman writing in the New York Times found:
"The government advisers and Nabil Rajab of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said that over the years, the United States military was reluctant to believe the degree of the royal family’s discrimination against Shiites in politics, employment, housing and human rights. Mr. Rajab said that he was invited to speak in Washington and was told by two senators that the military encouraged them not to meet with him, or even to host him”.
So whilst the backlash against the Bahrainian protest movement has been brutal and will more then likely worsen under the foreign occupation, Western governments have had relatively little to say on the issue, reluntant to call out the actions of it’s allies whilst essentially calling for a war on Libya.
It is important to note here that the West has also supported Gaddafi and the current Libyan regime in recent times. It has been reported that France, Britain and the EU, Russia and the US. Of these countries, it appears only Russia will abstain from enforcing the No-Fly Zone. Gaddafi had even been welcomed with open arms by many leading intellectual institutions, mainly the London School Of Economics, which agreed to help clean up Libya’s image, as well as accepting donations from Saif Gaddafi. Hence the West has affected already intervened in Libya, as it has in Bahrain, providing brutal governments the tools needed to suppress their respective populations.
Despite this recent inclusion, it is hard to argue that Gaddafi is anything but a rogue, with a long history defying the West. Hence we see a clear difference between Bahrain, the staunch supporter of Western powers and their corrupt allies, and the flake that is the current Libyan dictatorship.
Hence I am of the opinion that the current massacres of opposition forces is merely be used as a pretext for intervention, and therefore the no-fly zone has less to do with protecting civilians as it does enforcing western interests.
It’s important to remember that the “Humanitarian Intervention” imposed on Iraq during the 90’s, in the form of sanctions and bombings, lead to the premature deaths of an estimated 500,000 children. The term itself is at best an oxymoron, and at worst a gross euphemism. So whilst we all support the Libyan peoples push for freedom, we must be ever vigilant that the actions of our Governments, while paying lip service to the ideals of peace, often run in the opposite direction.