Part 7: All the King’s men

The first time I saw representatives of the private militia belonging to the Khalifa family was in an area called Jasra on the west coast of Bahrain (which is more like a western suburb of Manama) in September, 2008. I was with a group of friends on our way to a party at Hamala Beach Resort and our vehicle, which was driven by the husband of one of our colleagues at the Polytechnic, passed by a very long and ornate wall which was guarded periodically by armed, uniformed men. I had been in Bahrain for less than a month at the time and this was my first glimpse of any armed security personnel anywhere in the country. When my friend asked Paul, the driver, who the men were and what they were “protecting”, he rather casually replied, “Oh, they’re just some of the guys who protect the Khalifas. That place is one of their properties.”

I have since learnt that “that place” is one of a collection of private palaces belonging to the Prime Minister of Bahrain. I’ll be blogging more about this amazing individual in the near future but for now I’ll just repeat that he is the uncle of the King of Bahrain and has held the position of Prime Minister (unelected) for 40 years. If you would like to see what “that place” of his looks like from the air, take a look at this. The large white things near the water are private boats.

The road we travelled along on our way to Hamala was the one on the right of the picture going from top to bottom. The personnel we saw guarding the Prime Minister’s “Waterside Palace” belong to a special group called the Royal Guard. Paul told us that this group were handpicked by the King himself and consisted of non-Bahraini nationals who also belonged to the same religious persuasion as the royal family. I remember thinking to myself at the time that it was a pretty smart move by the King to use foreigners to protect his family as it effectively prevented any form of military coup taking place in the future. I now know that one of the King’s sons, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa was promoted to take charge of the Royal Guard on 19th June 2011, three days after being promoted from captain to colonel in the Bahrain Defense Force. At the time of writing, Sheikh Nasser is 24 years old.

Not long after our trip out to Hamala Beach Resort I began living on the edge of Sanabis and saw other Bahraini security staff on a very regular basis. These members were only ever seen driving around in their Four-Wheel-Drive vehicles (vehicles which, incidentally, are never needed in Bahrain because the country is as flat as a pancake) with the word POLICE painted on the sides as well as the website address for the Ministry of the Interior (http://www.interior.gov.bh), which I always felt  looked strange.

I also discovered that all the windows of these vehicles were protected by heavy mesh grilles, so obviously they had been involved in altercations with Bahrainis in the past. Later, of course, I learnt that the same youths responsible for setting the tyres alight in the Sanabis area were also involved in throwing missiles at these vehicles. Seeing groups of these vehicles slowly cruising around the streets in and around Sanabis (and disrupting traffic, I should point out) became a regular sight for me. It wasn’t until February 14th 2011 that I actually got to see them do anything other than driving slowly around.

The personnel inside these vehicles, as hinted from their website address, work for the Ministry of the Interior (MoI). This Ministry is under the control of Lieutenant-General Sheikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, a cousin of the King, and is responsible for law enforcement and public safety in Bahrain. The official title of this group, however, is the Special Security Force Command, which comes under the control of the National Security Agency and is associated with the Ministry of the Interior (hence the website address). From their appearance (but not by their actions) most westerners would commonly refer to these personnel as “riot police” and, as with the Royal Guard, most of their numbers come from other countries, most notably Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and Jordan and many of their members do not speak Arabic. They receive free housing and become naturalised Bahrainis upon starting their job, helping to swell the numbers of Sunni Bahrainis. Although it is difficult to ascertain accurate figures of just how many riot police are employed in Bahrain, it has been suggested that there are approximately 2,500 – 3,000 working in the country. Assuming that 70% of Bahrain’s population are pro-democracy,  this means that there is approximately one riot police member for 140 men, women and children in Bahrain, a truly incredible ratio.

There is also much speculation about the legal training that the Special Security Force Command personnel receive, if any. Most riot police in democratic countries are normal, highly trained police officers who double as riot police if and when the need arises. These professionals are well aware of the legal requirements of their work since it usually involves having to appear in court to give evidence. It is highly doubtful that any of the imported members of the Special Security Force Command are ever expected to or have ever given any form of evidence in court (since many cannot speak Arabic) or that they have been trained in any way to understand the legal or Human Rights requirements of their jobs. The fact that there is no requirement for them to give evidence also suggests that there is no intention to carry out investigations for any of the deaths and injuries that have been caused by the Special Security Force Command members.  To an outsider it appears that they have all been brought into the country to simply act like thugs and bullies and to suppress any form of protest, however peaceful it may be. The only training they appear to have had is in the low-skill areas of  weapons handling and tear-gas dispensing.

The riot police or Special Security Force Command are very easily recognisable in their white helmets with protective visors (which are almost always raised), their navy blue uniform jumpsuits and their large black boots.

In recent months they have begun wearing ridiculous plastic protective chest and back plates and have also been issued with perspex riot shields with the word POLICE printed on them. (I always find it amusing that in many non-English speaking countries English is used with law enforcement instead of their native language as if to say, “this is serious!”.) Normally when the word riot is used most people have visions of proper riots, such as prison riots, where the inmates take control of the prison and generally smash everything up as a form of protest against harsh conditions or street riots which are extremely rare. Perhaps the most famous recent street riots took place in Los Angeles in 1992 following the acquittal of four police officers who were video-taped assaulting an unarmed and totally defenseless civillian. The name of the civillian, Rodney King, would be familiar to any who remember the incident and the overwhelming public furore amongst the black community of Los Angeles resulted in a large-scale riot. The Wikipedia definition of a riot is: “a form of civil disorder characterized often by what is thought of as disorganized groups lashing out in a sudden and intense rash of violence against authority, property or people.” What took place in Los Angeles, as an example, exactly fits this description. The black community violently attacked anyone who was white, smashed public property and stole and looted from businesses. This situation quickly became totally out of control and riot police were used to eventually restore order. It should be pointed out that there has never been anything remotely resembling riots in Bahrain and for anyone to describe the protests (which are almost always in the form of peaceful marches) as riots is totally misleading and completely untrue.

My first experience of the Special Security Force Command members in action was the small tear-gas firing incident on February 14th, 2011. At the time I could not see much but I later learnt that these riot police were actually trying to prevent a group of anti-government protesters from reaching the Pearl Roundabout on foot. They certainly were not rioting and they were totally unarmed. But they were treated as rioters nonetheless. What I witnessed at 3.00 am on February 17th was much, much worse. The Special Security Force Command were used to smash an egg with a sledgehammer – there was no rioting, no weapons and absolutely no danger to the riot police or to the general public. As I commented in an earlier blog, the riot police’s objective was not to simply clear the roundabout of protesters; it was also to try to inflict as many injuries as possible to the protesters in doing so.

Ever since the appalling events of February and March of 2011, the Special Security Force Command has been used extensively and intensively by the Khalifa regime to simply stamp out the protest movement once and for all. I repeat that the protesters are not in any way rioting or causing civil disobedience each time they are attacked mercilessly by the riot police. Men, women and children each day in Bahrain have been subjected to a constant stream of attack by these overseas mercenaries with, as in the events of last February, the aim of injuring and, it appears, killing them. Here is a list of the types of activities that these “special” forces are guilty of committing:

  • groups of security force vehicles travel to villages during the night and fire or throw tear gas at and into the houses of families. These families are not even outside in the street, let alone protesting or “rioting” and yet they are being subjected to this kind of treatment on a nightly basis.  This has resulted in several deaths, particularly of babies and the elderly, which the Ministry of the Interior dismiss by saying the deaths were caused by “bacterial infection” in the case of a perfectly healthy 5 day-old baby or that one elderly man had died from cancer after presumably deciding that sitting in front of his television was preferable to being treated in a hospital.
  • riot police throw molotov cocktails at protesters and at the houses of protesters. This action in itself is hard enough to believe but the question of where these molotovs come from needs to be considered. Is it part of the new training that King Hamad promised to introduce after the humiliation of the BICI findings that allows security officers to make molotov cocktails or are they being made for them by Khalifa loyalists? Here is a link to a video showing a law enforcement officer throwing a molotov cocktail at a group of protesters, something I had never seen anywhere before.
  • apart from molotovs being thrown, Special Security Force Command members have also been filmed throwing rocks and, more disturbingly, metal rods. These rods appear to be made from similar material as that used in the building industry but cut down so as to be easily handled. Their effectiveness was horrifically revealed when one of them was thrown and hit a completely innocent young lady, impaling itself in her head. She died from her injuries a few days later.

  • also falling into the “difficult to believe” category is the fact that the riot police have also been filmed using slingshots against protesters. It suggests that they have been given carte blanche to use whatever means they like to suppress the protesters.
  • damage to property also seems to be one of the many other requirements of the job of a Special Security Force Command member, particular damage to parked vehicles. The riot policemen’s batons seem particularly suited for this and are used to smash windows and lights on vehicles for absolutely no legal reason.
  • using their vehicles as weapons to run over protesters is also very popular, with at least one protester dying from his injuries inflicted after being repeatedly run over. A group of five protesters were arrested and accused of doing the same thing to a policeman during the March 2011 unrest with two being sentenced to death and the other three receiving life sentences in prison. The policemen who caused the death of the protester, however, have never been investigated. The Special Security Force Command also drive their vehicles at high speeds through the villages of the protesters, endangering the lives of anyone unlucky enough to be outside at the time. Some would suggest that this is done deliberately to cause injury and possibly death, which is one of the reasons residents have taken to blocking the streets in their own villages with whatever large objects they can lay their hands on to prevent it from happening.
  • shooting. Riot police in most civilised countries rarely resort to the use of firearms when controlling unrest. They are present as a strong visual deterrent but they are used extensively against protesters in Bahrain. Four people were killed by gunshots during the clearing of the Pearl Roundabout back in February 2011 and there have been many more deaths attributed to guns, particularly shotguns, since then. The government has claimed that the firing of the guns has only ever been in self defense whenever any of the Special Security Force Command members felt threatened but it is interesting to note that very few of the protesters who died from gunshot wounds received them in the front of their bodies, almost always in the back. There has also been much debate about the type of ammunition used in the shotguns themselves and for an excellent analysis of this subject I highly recommend an article written by Bill Marczak, which can be read here.
  • also on the subject of shooting is the use of rubber bullets. I had always been aware of rubber bullets being used by riot police around the world (as opposed to live ammunition, of which birdshot falls under the category) but never really understood how they worked. Being hit by a bullet made from rubber, while not being lethal would still definitely cause tremendous pain and although I have been shot by paintball pellets fired from an airgun I cannot imagine what it would be like to receive a hit from a rubber bullet fired from a rifle. I have since discovered, however, that the correct procedure for using rubber bullets is to fire them at the ground so that they bounce up into the legs of the protesters, away from vital organs and the head. The impact with the ground reduces the speed of the bullet, making the subsequent impact to the person’s body non-lethal. This does not explain, therefore, why there have been so many eye injuries to protesters since February 2011, with many youths having lost the sight of one eye due to direct hits from rubber bullets. One can only assume that the riot police have been deliberately aiming for the heads of the protesters, which is obviously contrary to the intended use of rubber bullets. For the government to explain this away as being due to a “lack of training” is both unacceptable and insulting.

So during my time in Bahrain I had seen members of the Royal Guard performing their duties of protecting the many valuable assets of the Khalifa family as well as the fully-imported members of the Special Security Force Command systematically suppressing the pro-democracy protesters. Thankfully, I had no direct contact with any members of the National Security Agency (which includes those responsible for carrying out the appalling cases of torture and human rights abuses in Bahrain’s prisons, as detailed in the highly damning BICI report) but I did have a visit by members of the Minister of the Interior to our apartment. Most of those who have read my blogs will know by now how shocked and disgusted I am by the behaviour of the Khalifa regime’s vast army of security personnel, whose existence is almost purely used for stamping out any form of opposition to the royal family and the government’s actions. I accept that every country must have its own forces to act in case of any form of social unrest, even in my own country Australia and in my wife’s country of Thailand, but I have never lived in a country (or visited one, for that matter) where security forces that have been especially brought in from other countries have been used in such a brutal and sadistic manner to suppress simple street marches. The many deaths, countless injuries and endless arrests and cases of torture that continue to occur in a country that prides itself on being an ally to both the US and Britain leaves me appalled beyond measure.

Next blog: A look at the world’s longest serving Prime Minister

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23 comments on “Part 7: All the King’s men
  1. Michael Steiner says:

    Another excellent post; thanks, Tony. And thank you for the video of the mercenary throwing a Molotov cocktail. I’ve seen many shots of pro-government bandits throwing Molotovs under “police” fiat, but this is the first I’ve seen of a mercenary doing it.

    Here’s one of a cavalcade of mercenaries rolling through a Shia shanty town. Listen for the phrase “al-sha3ab yureed Khalifa bin Salman” (the people want Khalifa bin Salman). THAT is what passes for “policing” in Khalifes’ Bahrain.

    And, there have been many, here’s a video of a perfectly peaceful rally in an alleyway being dispersed by mercenaries firing teargas and flashbangs:

    The gentleman at the front of the protestors is Nabil Rajab, a prominent human rights activist, who subsequently got pummeled all over his head, neck and back by the mercenaries. Oh, and the regime media later claimed the “police” HELPED him by taking him to the hospital. But then, last week they claimed the illustrious N.Y.T. journalist Nick Kristof had sought police protection when, if fact, he’d been detained (and his partner’s filming equipment destroyed).

    The most infuriating part of all of this is that we, the West, are firmly on the wrong side of history on this one. I wish there was more I personally could do other than spew indignation online…

    A petition: Against the Formula One grand prix being held in Khalifes’ Bahrain:
    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/no-f1-in-brutal-bahrain.html

    Take care, Tony…

  2. Michael Steiner says:

    I’m sorry, I forgot something:

    YASQOT HAMAD!!!

  3. janiceryan says:

    The Bahrain Embassy website in Pakistan has hundreds, if not thousands, of Pakistanis asking to be considered for Bahrain police positions. I saw one applicant who wanted to join the police and “bring peace to Bahrain”. (http://embassy-finder.com/bahrain_in_islamabad_pakistan?page=4)

    As the classic Stanford Experiment (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkmQZjZSjk4) shows, if you put good people in an evil place, most people will do what they are told by those in authority. And they’ll believe they are doing the right thing or that they have no choice.

    Another tragedy is that the government is doing nothing about the civilian militia who are now joining the police on the streets. I have seen, on youtube videos, a few police make minor attempts to shoo them away, but not until after they have damaged public and private property.

    Everything is being postponed (yet again) until the end of February when the Commission to look at the Commissions findings completes their plan of implementation. In the meantime, the concentrated attacks on citizens and their property almost appears like the government is trying to provoke violent reaction from the opposition. It will then say it had no option but to use its full force.

    This really is a distasteful regime.

  4. Mahmood says:

    Again and again, on behalf of all people in Bahrain I’d like to thank you for your post on the situation here. Thank you for your support and your gut to reveal the truth to the world.
    I’d like you and the readers to have a look on this video that proves that members of Bahrain Intelligence distribute Molotov cocktails amongst them and other pro-government thugs before attacking villages: http://t.co/SQ7iOEOO

    Also, here is a video of pro-government armed thug raising what appears to be Syria Flag (or Iraq as they old Syrian flag looks the same as the old Iraqi one) before attacking Shia villages: http://t.co/UhmtqZmM

    This third video is in reply to MoI’s minister who claimed yesterday that his ministry has no MILITIAS: http://t.co/d5LhWCfm

    At the end, I would like you to read this article to have an idea of how the ROYAL FAMILY have stolen 65 sq km of state land, which is around 10% of Bahrain’s total area: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/47cecd40-ddf9-11df-88cc-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1iwbAggRv . Ironically, they demolished LICENSED mosques instead of returning these usurped lands to the people.

    Best regards

  5. TabarsiRizvi says:

    http://www.change.org/petitions/the-president-of-the-united-states-stop-the-oppression-over-people-who-are-calling-for-democracy
    I am from Mumbai, India and i have created an online petition addressing Bahrain Govt to stop the oppression over innocents.please spread it so that more and more people sign it.
    Its not just a petition, but also a way of creating awareness among people of other nations who are not knowing whats going on in Bahrain.
    Plz Sign and Tweet it and also post on facebook so that many others sign it.
    Its also a slap on Hammad’s face. Please don’t ignore it. Its a request

    • Happy to sign and pass on your petition, TabarsiRizvi. Perhaps if more of your countrymen and women knew what was happening in Bahrain they would consider working in other, less oppressed countries.

  6. Ahmed BH says:

    With all due respect. I am Bahraini and I am not Pro-Govt, I am Pro-Bahrain. What i hate most is when people who are not Bahraini talk about our country and think they know it all.. I am sorry, but that is utter non-sense what you have written. Think of the people you are disrespecting. A country that welcomed you, gave you stability, this is how you repay it? And when you leave you start dissing? Grow up. We all know what happened in Bahrain. Stop making up excuses for the rioters. For humanity’s sake, say it how it actually is.

    ” The Wikipedia definition of a riot is: “a form of civil disorder characterized often by what is thought of as disorganized groups lashing out in a sudden and intense rash of violence against authority, property or people.” ”

    This, my friend, is EXACTLY what happened.. Thank you for providing the definition..

    Watch this video that int’l media are not showing —

    Peaceful protesters… aka. Hezbollah.

    I’ll let the readers be the judge.

    God save us from those “peaceful pro-democratic protesters”

    • Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to comment, Ahmed.
      One of the most common remarks made to me by those who support the Khalifa regime is the one you made: “You are not Bahraini, therefore you are not permitted to comment on Bahrain.” The argument is that unless you are a Bahraini citizen (and I hope that doesn’t include all the former Pakistani and Syrian ones) then you can never know “THE TRUTH” about Bahrain. And yet these same people then try to convince you of “THE TRUTH” by showing you a video and then assume the case is closed. So on one hand I am accused of being incapable of learning what is happening in Bahrain (because I don’t live there) but suddenly I become capable because a pro-Khalifa shows me some evidence.
      As you say in your comment, “I’ll let the readers be the judge.”
      Another interesting comment is the one to “grow up”. I often hear this and wonder if it means that my blogs and comments are childish and that I should start acting like an adult.
      I’m also accused of being ungrateful and that I should be thankful to a country that gave me employment and then saw fit to end that employment because I posted some videos on YouTube and made comments on Facebook. Ungrateful to a country that tries to tell the world it is wonderful and free and then sacks someone for voicing their opinion.
      My final point will be about the “rioters”. I’m glad you agree with the definition but you show that you have no idea what a rioter is, especially if you consider that the protesters “riot” in their own villages.
      God save Bahrain from the Khalifas.

      • Ahmed BH says:

        Ok let me make this clear, i am born and raised in Bahrain .. I am 27 years old, and yet you stayed in Bahrain for 3 years exluding trips, andu seem to know what we want best. Thats the thing i hate.

        Its my eyes and what i witness on a daily basis, and how i was almost killed by a molotov thrown towards me in Aali.. So if thats not rioting, i dont know what is.

        You have no idea what the true intentions of those “peaceful” ones are, infront of the cameras they are something and behind the scenes they are something else..

        Ask urself why are they all shiite? Sectarian movement… Controlled and masterminded by whom? I’ll leave u to answer that.

        Watch the vid. Tell me whats wrong

  7. Ahmed BH says:

    Oh and I have one simple question…

    Is Hezbollah a terrorist group?

    • Michael Steiner says:

      Yes, 7ezbollah is a terrorist organization. What’s your point?

      Even Hamad’s own commission of inquiry failed to produce a single shred of evidence of any foreign interference. (Well, except foreign interference by Saudi Arabia.)

      “Sorry,” but nobody’s buying this Iranian agent provocateur bull.

    • Michael Steiner says:

      @Ahmed: First of all, the protestors are NOT all Shia, though the vast majority are. Why are most of them Shia? Because the Shia are disproportionately discriminated against by Hamad and his clique. If you want to see a country that DOES manage to treat both sects equally, look at Kuwait.

      Secondly, how do YOU know what the protestors say, do or are “behind the scenes”? Where do you get your information from?

      Thirdly, yes, Molotovs are being thrown by protestors. That, however, is a very recent development. For ten months the protests were purely peaceful, and every single one was brutally attacked by Hamad’s Pakistani, Yemeni and Syrian mercenaries. If you ask me, I’m impressed with the patience and restraint the protestors have shown. If some gang of foreigners came to my neighborhood every single day, teargassed me, vandalized my car, humiliated my wife, roughed up my kids, ransacked my home, or beat me, firebombing them would be the very LEAST I’d be doing.

      If Hamad’s henchmen don’t change their modus operandi soon, having a few Molotov cocktails thrown around will be the least of their worries.

      BTW, I’m a Jew and a Zionist, so I’ve a heightened sensitivity to any Iranian connections and am not particularly a fan of the Shia. That’s beside the point. The people of Bahrain must have a right to freely elect those who have power over them. The days of “kings,” “sheikhs,” and all that nonsense are drawing to a close.

      Bahrain is not a democracy and those people want it to be. They are in the majority, overwhelming majority. THe minority is getting its way through brute force. If you have any sense, and you sound like you do, surely you recognize that such a situation is untenable. If I was in your shoes, rather than defend Hamad and his anachronistic regime, I’d join the pro-democracy movement in demanding democracy, transparency, accountability, meritocracy and an end to corruption, palaces, land theft, etc.

      1010T10.

      • Ahmed BH says:

        @Michael Thank you for answering my Q, Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. I rest my case 🙂

        So how can people stoop so low and sympathize with terrorists? Bahrain’s Hezbollah have been called “peaceful pro-democracy protesters” and that my friend is propaganda at its best.

        Fact check, 99% of the rioters are shiite, and unfortunately our government are too lenient and give them everything. We are discriminated, but thats not the point now, first we need safety and security in our country, and then law and order must be applied hard, no one should be above the law.

        Look, to be percise, Bahrain is an island with a population of 1.2 Million, I guarantee you that at least 1 million will testify against the rioters and their heinous crimes. Yes its true, we do not sympathise with the rioters, i truly dont care if all of them were jailed or deported.. Who’s fault is that? Their fault.

        They have snubbed us of all their “demands” and didnt really care if we were bothered or not. plus the “bassioni” report clearly states how sectarian this “movement” is. At the end of the day, this is just a keyboard/media battle as to who did what and provide evidence of this or that, but All of us know what really took place and is going on.

        Yes Iran has everything to do with this. Bassiouni stated that the Gov denied access of the info about external intererence, but as usual, people translate that to how they wish it was. Isa Qassim must be deported. Ali Salman, Isa’s little puppy, will follow, and i hope lots go with them too.

        PS. I don’t know any zionist Michael who would type “7ezbolla”.. But i won’t make a big deal out of it 🙂 Its up to you, if u wanna play the “i’m a foreigner” game 🙂

      • Michael Steiner says:

        You rest your case? WHAT case!?! You’ve proven nothing except that you’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for Hamad’s pathetic propaganda. Anyway, I’m not going to argue with you. People power is an unstoppable force, and the forces of democracy will prevail in Bahrain some day, despite all the physical violence and mental torture (of both Shia and Sunni) by the despicable Khalife regime.

        As far as “7izbollah,” Hebrew has the 7et sound corresponding to your own 7et. I do the same for 3ayin, 2alef, and 5af.

        אם אתה לא מאמין לי, אין מה לעשות 🙂

        ישקוט חמד!!!

  8. Ahmed BH says:

    Michael its obvious you are posing as a westerner. Stop defending that fact and focus on the point.

    Yes people power is an unstoppable force. Majority rules in democracy right? The vast majority of Bahrain are against the douchebag rioters, so you will see that the 1 million+ people will have their wish and hopefully Law and order will be implemented with full force in Bahrain. We’re fed up with the media siding with Hezbolla. People power will hopefully prevail.

    God save us from those terrorists

    • Michael Steiner says:

      Ahmed, since your English is way better than that of any Bahraini I ever had contact with, you’re obviously not a Bahraini but one of Hamad’s cyber-mercenaries. You work for one of the many P.R. firms Hamad is bankrolling to try to fool the world about Bahrain. Is it Qorvis?

      See, two can play at that stupid game.

      I AM a Westerner and you’d be very surprised if you knew a bit more about my background.

      But anyway, look, believe what you want. You’re deluded about very many things; my identity is just another to add to the list.

      Fact is, literally hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis came out to demand the fall of Hamad’s regime. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS. Like it or not, it may take a month, a year or a decade, but they WILL achieve their goal.

      Now, I’ve enjoyed (if at times despaired at) this repartee, but we shouldn’t be hijacking Tony’s article, so I will let this message be my last. If you want, I can be reached on mls_lists@msn.com

      Yallah, shalom rav, and I hope you begin to see some sense soon 🙂 At the very least, I hope you purge yourself from this enormous hatred you bear.

  9. Shehab says:

    Briefing your blog. It is one word. Transparency. Or honesty. And another one word from a bahraini citizen. Thanks.

  10. Jim says:

    Mate, when’s this next part coming about the Prime Minister?

  11. Nabeel says:

    I read most of your blogs and I noticed that you mentioned the word “Loyalist” alot. Who do you mean by loylaist? Your blogs have painted a very sectarian image. You imply that Shias are oppressed. There are shias who are extremely rich and some that support the government. Also there are sunnis who are extrememly poor and are also anti government. I really hope you are not impliing that all sunnis are ignorant pro government stooges, and Bahrain belongs to Shias. Please elobrate on some of your terminologies. People say Shias are the majority and therefore deserve to rule. What about the minority sunnis, jews, christains and hindus that also live here? Do they just disapear?

    • Michael says:

      Bahrain belongs to its citizens, not one clan. Al-Khalife have been treating Bahrain like their personal f!@#ing suzerainty or fiefdom.

      A democratic election would produce a Shia-led government, certainly. However, I see no connection between that and minorities “disappear[ing].” Why would a majority Shia government mean the extirpation of any minority?!?

  12. Dawn says:

    Michael You really do not understand Bahrain or the ppl in it. If Ahmad’s English is good it is probably because he went to an English medium school in Bahrain and has nothing to do with him being “Hamad’s cyber-mercenaries”. There are many, many young Bahrainis with very good English because of this and they are also the Bahrainis who are more open minded and tolerant than most; the ones who were looking towards Bahrain becoming a more open and democratic place in the future. You really should LISTEN to what he says since it is being said by a LARGE amount of Bahrainis (not just mouth pieces of the government).The fact that you do not understand his English ability shows your misunderstanding of this country and the many, many differences here.

    The majority of demonstrators are Shia from villages. There are (and were) very few protests with hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis coming out (this usually only happens when Sh Qassim calls or when NUG called Sh Al Mahmood) which proves that this revolution is not democratic but religious in nature. THAT is what most Bahrainis fear and why they do not back it. There will be a new PM (prob when Sh Khalifa passes) but he will prob be another Al Khalifa because of this fiasco that has taken place. It has put Bahrain years and years back in reform which is the real shame!

    Oh and Tony Mitchell has a personal reason to hate the government and was not in Bahrain to understand the nuances of the culture and country, so I take everything HE says with a grain of salt.

    • Michael says:

      @Dawn: Since you deliberately misinterpreted my remark about Ahmed’s English, I am going to ignore that half of your riposte.

      Stating that large protests occur only in response to certain personalities and then averring that this proves some sectarian character to the revolution is a total non-sequitur. As you say — sorry, as “Nabeel” says — in another comment, there are Shia who support the government; there are Sunnis who oppose it. The bottom is line: Does the majority of Bahrain’s citizenry oppose the government. The answer, as affirmed by more than a half million protesters (well over half the citizens) out on the streets, is an unequivocal YES. (That, incidentally, is one of the main reasons Hamad is naturalizing loyalists like there’s no tomorrow!)

      Your statements also rather glaringly ignore the fact that large-scale protests are not happening ONLY because Hamad and his mercenary “police” have turned many villages into concentration camps, imprisoned most of the opposition, effectively exiled others, and quelled even small-scale protests with ruthless efficiency. So, major protests are not happening because Hamad & co. do not allow them. Period.

      Fact of the matter is that Bahrain under Al-Khalifa is a totalitarian, dictatorial, police state. There is no democracy, no pluralism, no tolerance of any kind for dissent of any type, and no human rights worth their name for those even suspected of being against the Khalife hegemony. All the people want is an ability to say who gets to make decisions that affect their lives, their families’ lives, their towns, and their country. That is an absolute, inalienable right, and they have an absolute, inalienable right to demand it.

      As far as your slur at Tony Mitchell, shall we examine your background? Given your name, you are either a Westerner living in Bahrain — in which case we need say no more; your motives are pellucid — or a cybermercenary of Hamad’s. You might also be a convert to Islam who got brainwashed into sectarian animosity. One thing you’re not for sure is a dispassionate Western citizen living in a Western country with a healthy intellectual interest in the goings-on in Bahrain 🙂

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