Why a “Humanitarian” Concern for the people of Libya and not for Bahrain?

The President of the United States of America, Mr. Barack Obama on military intervention in Libya said, “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries but United States of America is different. Wherever people want to be free they will find a friend in the United States.”

I wonder what happened to the America’s wide opened eyes when it came to Bahraini civilians. The demonstrations of people in this tiny gulf nation were crushed and severe punitive measures were taken against the dissented voices. Inspired by the successful uprisings in neighboring Tunis and Cairo, there were anti-government protests demanding regime change and democracy in the Bahraini capital Manama too.

It all started on February 16, 2011 when people took to the streets and flocked at the heart of the capital — the Pearl roundabout. The protesters decided to cling to the square until their demands were met. Eventually temporary tents were erected, satellite television antennas were installed and food kiosks were set up to make people comfortable.

But the first night at the square turned into a nightmare when the defiant regime ordered crackdown, and at around 3 AM the riot control vehicles with heavily armed security personnel surfaced onto the square and began recklessly shooting at the demonstrators, consequently killing four and injuring hundreds of them. The corpses and the injured were taken to one of the biggest medical facility in the country — the Salmaniyya hospital where autopsy was conducted and injured victims of the ignominious act were treated.

Gradually the hospital turned into a state of emergency as clamor continued on the streets and as did the regime’s brutal measures to crush them, resulting into rapid surge of injured protestors.

The hospital’s ambulances were prevented from reaching injured protestors and any uniformed medic found treating demonstrators were attacked. One of the medics of the Salmaniyya hospital Dr. Saadiq Al Ekri was handcuffed and beaten. His ribs and nose were broken and allegedly policemen pulled his pants down and humiliated him, all because he treated the injured dissidents.

The Bahrainis seemed determined not to relinquish their demands despite continuous desolation. On February 23, 2011, Bahrain held its largest march in history and that led the Bahraini king to travel to Saudi Arabia and asked for their help to put an end to this unprecedented development. Saudi Arabia too seemed keen to dismantle any such development in its backyard and subsequently in an ominous move led a Gulf Co-operation Council military force into Bahrain on March 14, then started a vociferous campaign by the coalition forces to completely decimate the democratic dreams of Bahraini civilians.

Most of the opposition leadership was taken away and over 1000 protesters were arrested. Many were detained without charges and allegedly killed.

One of the government official appeared on the state television with a message for the countrymen, “The work of these traitors will not pass without punishments. The arm of justice is long; it will catch them wherever they go. No matter how long they hide in their darkness, the eyes of security are open and justice will have no mercy on them. It will track them down.”

Definitely in the subsequent days the security forces tracked those so blamed “traitors”, specifically targeting the prominent figures in the country, who actually just demanded the democratic rights. They included football star striker Alaa Hubail and 24 other sports heroes. Moreover, 47 medics and nurses of the Salmaniyya hospital were also arrested.

The people were barred from any public meeting and were only allowed to have funeral processions. The government also demolished many Shia places of worship claiming they were built illegally.

The country’s Shia majority population has been ruled by the Sunni royal family since the 18th century with absolute power.

So to summarize, as witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya there were deadly crackdown on peaceful protesters in Bahrain as well. Many lost their life, human rights were out rightly abused, politically motivated detention drive was carried throughout the country, and the detainees were subjected to harsh and inhumane torture in the detention centers. The residents of places with demonstrations against the regime were continuously tortured physically and psychologically, and arbitrary arrests were made. Their homes were raided at the dead of night while they were sleeping. They were beaten up and threatened to be charged with treason.

Didn’t the people of Bahrain want to be free from the autocratic rule of the Khalifa family? Then why didn’t they find a “friend” in the United States?

Was it perhaps because America’s Fifth Fleet is stationed in Bahrain, and it is in the interest of the United States for the Khalifa regime to stay in power? Because as far as the political scenario in that country is concerned no one except the Khalifas have a say in the political life of Bahrain.

So how could the United States of America risk its significantly important military presence in the region? If they do so, Iran which doesn’t even hosts a US embassy on its soil will strengthen its influence, showcase its growing military power and propagate its policies in the oil rich region which are often pronounced as anti-western. Is this what America is scared of?

And let’s not forget that the United States of America’s best friend in the region is Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain is a strategic partner of Saudis being part of the Gulf Co-operation Council. How could the US anger a country (Saudi Arabia) which is the second largest exporter of crude oil to them? After all, oil tops the list of United States foreign priorities.

But why only Libya?

In fact, the question is not all about why the Bahraini people did not find a “friend” in the United States, but the real question is: why is it that only the Libyans found a “friend” in the United States?

There were similar demonstrations in many different countries in the region. People lost their loved ones, were forced into exile and evicted from their own land. But why did the United States and its allies shower its “blessings” only on Libya?

It forces me to wonder whether it was seriously out of “friendship” and the so claimed “humanitarian concerns” for the civilians of Libya or was it because of Libya’s vast oil reserves under the perceived anti western long time ruler Col. Muammar Qaddafi?

As a matter of fact, Col. Qaddafi’s profile lists many anti western and anti Israel participation and initiative since 1969 when he came to power, and even before. As a student in 1956, he took part in anti Israel protests during the Suez Crisis. As soon as he gained power he immediately ordered the shutdown of American and British military bases, including the strategic Wheelus Air Base.

In 1980s, the Colonel acquired chemical weapons drawing censure from the United States and its allies among many other nations. Moving a step further he embarked on the pursuit of nuclear weapons and tried to persuade India and China to sell a nuclear bomb to it; however he ended up signing a nuclear peace pact with India. The countries like the United States, France and Britain, who apparently claim prerogative over nuclear weapons, severely rebuked any such quest by Col. Qaddafi.

The Libyan-Western relationship took a sharp down turn  in 1988 when two high ranking Libyan intelligence officials were accused in the Lockerbie bombings in which more than 250 people died. The incident shook the international community and Col. Qaddafi was alleged of committing state sponsored terrorism.

So, as it is evident from the above mentioned bywords, Libya under Col. Muammar Qaddafi threatened and proved detrimental for the USA’s interests in a region which is of paramount importance for its energy and natural resources needs. Then how could the US manage not to strive to a leeway provided to them by the unrest in a country which did not always necessarily endorse its policies. As a result the United Nations resolution 1973 passed, Libyan territory shelled, the regime toppled and the ruler caught alive, dragged on the streets, molested and killed like a bandit.

So now the question is, do you still think the West is really concerned about the value of human life in Libya? If it is, then why not in Bahrain?

About Mohammad Behzad Fatmi

Mohammad Behzad Fatmi (Class of 2012) is a former staff writer for Jamia Journal, and a 2012 Bachelor of Commerce graduate. He can be reached via email at: behzad.fatmi[at]gmail.com

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  1. actually its all about the BLACK GOLD(petroleum)…American foreign in Gulf lies on petrol…revolution in Libya was beneficial for for US corporeters….the term used by western media was ” ARAB SPRING ” was nothing but a international propaganda for justification of their attack on Libya. the new government of Libya promised the french and western power to supply fuel to them on their decided price . but the things are not same every where like ,Seyrian are the one who are the most sufferes from the state suppression but no western countries or US are showing their interest to them. becoz Syria is not very rich in petroleum so it won’t be a business of profit for them to interfere in their matters . as far as the question of Bahrain ,the Bahraini govt. is Sunni dominant and the majority of people are Shiya. if any kind of revolution take place it will be Shiya dominant and supportive of Iran.

  2. Yes what you have said is definitively true, and people are realizing it like you and me, what remains is that the economy of USA get a hit and other nations evolve to become super powers only then it would stop and some other pity nation will suffer, so in the end this cycle will continue not might be here but somewhere else.

  3. bravo…behzad…i do not feel embarrassed admitting i had to use a dictionary while reading this…often!!

  4. behzad.this is really true that america is just think abt the monetary benefit i,e the oil….they dont interfere in other country untill n unless they dont think of any personal benefit,they never think of humanity either it is regarding saddam or gaddafi………they just show the face of humanity but not be practical about it………they need to first deal with every country before helping him……if it lies there personal benefit thn only they overtake te situation……….

  5. This is true and known western policies, They need bussiness and there foreign policy is mainly based on there future interest in the region in term of power,natural resources and sale of military warfare.

    Agree with your point on Libya and Bahrain.We are really concern for humanitarian crisis in region but at sametime happy that finally Arab woke up from deep slumber of their own worldy fantacy.

    Now Arab shouldn’t have to look for Uncle Sam military power for regional stability.They should use their own brain and democratically elect their own leader which define and represent there furture,not the future of Zinoist regime sitting right on thier head.

    America and its institution is already expose in past for military involvment in Iraq and open support for Isriel zionist idealogy.

    Wish Best of Luck Behzad for presenting truth,hope your article get international podium.

  6. Well, I totally agree with the fact that all muslim nations one by one, are falling prey to conspiracies hatched by countries like US and UK. Its now time for muslim nations to wake up and unite in order to thwart any such diabolic movements.

  7. DISUNITY AMONG THE MUSLIMS ( Context of Syria)

    Disunity among the Ummah is very dangerous and it may provide a murderous opportunity for the adversaries to add fuel to the fire.

    After all, Ahmedinejad had not been a corrupt, incompetent or an immoral ruler. He has scored more than pass mark (I will give him a Merit Pass) There is no hard evidence to prove that the election of 2009 was a farce. So who is behind the attempted regime change in Iran?

    In which other developing country, the leadership of a third world democracy has done very much far better than the leadership in Iran. I am not an Iranian and I do not know the shortfalls and the in and out of Ahmedinejad’s management. But what I know is that Ahmedinejad has not made billions like the Egyptian or Libyan or Tunisian leaders.

    Try to go back to the earliest time of Islamic history when Khalifa Uthman ibn Affan (ra) was assassinated and when Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) assumed the leadership of the nation of Islam.

    The cunning Muawiyah and his group wanted the culprits, who planned and executed the assassination to be caught and punished as soon as possible, but Ali (ra) wanted to concentrate on the peace, unity and administration of the Ummah, but his adversaries were stubborn and had a political axe to grind. This led to the weakening and disintegration of the Nation of Islam. Did Islam gain by this sort of rationalistic freedom?

    This is exactly what may happen in Iran if the followers of Mousavi pursued their selfishness and greed for political power. They may play into the hands of the enemies of Iran who have been waiting for a pretext and an opportunity to destabilize the nation and in the process help the ambitions of the greatest enemies of Islam

    For the sake of saving the millions of innocent people of a Muslim nation, at times we have to forgive and forget the shortcomings of our leaders and rulers rather than trying to change the regime, create massive anarchy ( look at Afghanistan) by getting help from insincere and manipulating Non-Muslim world powers.

    Iraq is right in front of our eyes. Tens of thousands of People like me hated Saddam Hussein and went to the extent of morally co-operating with his opponents and dissidents in seeking help to punish and execute Saddam and overthrow his administration (Remember Dr. Ahmed Chalabi and gang). What were the consequences?

    But right now the same people feel the foolishness, naivety and immaturity of such political thinking and wish if only Saddam had remained in power and we could have saved the deaths of about 1.2 million Iraqis and about 400,000 people becoming refugees, over 600,000 widows and about 500,000 orphans and the nation going to the dogs. Who was responsible for this tragedy?

    Case Two: Afghanistan: Islam was trying hard to destroy group loyalty and tribalism, but the people of Afghan gave importance to their tribes: Pushtu, Hazar, Tajik, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Kyrgyzs etc, and their leaders like Burhanuddin, Ahmed Mashod, Hikmatyar and others could have reconciled for the sake of the unity of the nation and Ummah but ego and greed for political power corrupted them and brought horrendous bloodshed, devastation and sufferings to the millions of innocent people and brought a shame to Islam in the world.

    In conclusion I will say that we have to be patient, pray hard and should not try to create anarchy and confusion in Muslim societies for the sake of political power. There are hard lessons for the Muslims from these tragedies. United we stand and divided we fall.
    Let us wait until Allah swt Bring about a change in leadership

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