CNN opts for the anodyne and official phrasing “Gulf Cooperation Council security forces,” but the troops who just marched into Bahrain are Saudis.
When US Defense Secretary Gates visited Bahrain on Friday, I assume King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifah gave the US advance warning that his Kingdom would shortly be under something resembling Saudi martial law — just to make sure Washington would voice no more than minimal objections to the latest effort to crush Bahrain’s strengthening democracy movement.
The New York Times reports:
The White House issued a statement on Sunday that said the United States strongly condemned violence that had occurred in Bahrain and Yemen, and added, “We urge the government of Bahrain to pursue a peaceful and meaningful dialogue with the opposition rather than resorting to the use of force.”
And as the Khalifa family and their Saudi overlords ignore this request, what will the White House do? Withdraw the US Fifth Fleet? Not likely!
The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights describes the Saudi military presence as “an overt occupation of the kingdom of Bahrain and a conspiracy against the unarmed people of Bahrain.” Even while the White House urges the Bahrain government to engage the opposition in dialogue, no doubt Washington will dismiss the suggestion that Bahrain is now under occupation.
Given that Bahrainis already face brutality from security services — the majority of whom are foreign — I don’t know whether they will find the Saudi presence any more intimidating.
To have an idea of what protesters have been up against in recent days, just watch this video showing an unarmed man being hit by tear gas cannisters shot at point blank range:
GCC and now Arab League support for a no-fly zone over Libya (which they most likely expect will not be imposed), has I suspect, less to do with any concern about the fate of Libya’s revolutionaries than it does in fostering a permissive climate in which the Gulf states’ autocratic rulers can offer each other mutual support in their own efforts to counter the political demands coming from their own subjects. Support for a NFZ provides these monarchies with an opportunity to posture as defenders of Arab freedom at the same time that they suppress Arab freedom. Likewise, by opposing Gaddafi, the Gulf rulers want to cast their dictatorships as benign in contrast to Gaddafi’s brutal rule.