Interview With Professor Dr. Rania Masri: Saudi forces brutalize Bahrainis
SOURCE: Press TV
Bahraini and Saudi security and armed forces have beaten, shot and detained demonstrators for holding peaceful rallies and demanding change.
Masri: I think that we need to put this in perspective. To say that we are surprised by Western silence would be ahistoric. The West, particularly the United States is behaving the exact way that we would expect it to behave. The United States has never supported democracy outside its borders and one could argue it doesn’t support fair elections within its borders. So why should we expect it to act differently with regards to Bahrain?
We need to understand that since this past Monday, Jeffrey Feltman has been in Bahrain at the US Embassy particularly. Feltman as we know is the Secretary in Near Eastern Affairs. This is his fourth visit to Bahrain since February 16th. When we look at what this man has done in Lebanon, for example he has worked quite successfully unfortunately at creating divisions, and encouraging invasions plus civil rights violations. Why would we be expecting anything different from him in Bahrain?
So yes, the West is behaving just the way we would expect the West to behave, and unfortunately, if we also want to be realistic, the [P]GCC countries are behaving the way we would expect them to behave. Dictatorships will fight for the right to remain dictatorships even if that means killing their own people.
However, what becomes necessary is the way we the people behave in response to these atrocities in Bahrain. With whom are we going to stand? Are we going to stand with dictatorships? Are we going to stand with the West’s continuous violation of human rights? Or are we going to stand with what is legitimate, which is the people’s right for self-determination. That becomes the real question.
Press TV: When we talk about this sectarian divide, you can even find it in the Western mainstream press. If we look at the region before these uprisings started and we look at how they started, they didn’t fall along sectarian lines. You have countries like Iran that have very good relations with Turkey or Syria or the Palestinian cause, and on the other side you have countries like Yemen who do have populations that fall among the sectarian line that are more pro-Western. How important is this sectarian issue now?
Masri: It’s only important if you want to divide the community and the people, and you are talking to an ignorant audience. That is the importance. I do want to make a few comments. To ask US troops in Bahrain to respond and defend Bahrainis would be very wrong. What we need to ask the US troops who reside anywhere outside the US borders is to go home.
There is no reason that any government would have foreign troops outside of its borders. That is what we ask the US troops to do if they really believe in democracy. Go back home. As for the media, it’s important to realize we need to be asking questions about the media. Unfortunately, we are very disappointed in Al-Jazeera Arabic, and not Al-Jazeera English but Arabic because of its ties with the [P]GCC.
Qatar is one of the supporting countries in the [P]GCC to the Bahraini monarchy and consequently to the Bahraini violations of civil rights. We don’t see on Al-Jazeera Arabic the kind of objective portrayal of what is happening in Bahrain as we are used to seeing from Al-Jazeera Arabic in regards to Tunisia and with regards to Egypt.
So that means we the viewers need to become all the more critical of the news we are receiving. We need to be all the more questioning. One of the rumors that Al-Jazeera Arabic presented was that there was an exchange of gunfire yesterday in Bahrain. I’ve been following the news from Bahrain and following the news on other stations.
There has not been one reported gunshot injury from any Bahraini or Saudi Security. So how could there be any exchange of gunfire? Rather what has been coming from Bahrain from eyewitness reports in Bahrain is that the Saudi and Bahraini Security forces or Saudi Army are engaging in placing weapons in the cars of the protesters. So they are trying to frame the protesters to present this as if terrorists were attacking the protesters in Bahrain.
So again, we really have to remain vigilant and remain very careful in exposing what the truth is. The truth is the majority of people in Bahrain have been denied their civil, political and economic rights for decades. Not just for a few years but literally for decades.
They are asking for what is their legitimate right. Unfortunately, what is happening is from the beginning of February 14th, the demands from the populations were quite mild. They were asking for constitutional reform, but every time they were attacked by the government, their demands increased.
They have lost the credibility and trust in the government. So the question that we pose to the government and to anyone who is supporting what the government in Bahrain is doing is what’s going to come next given that the protest will continue and given that the outreach in the streets in Bahrain is only increasing.
What does the Bahraini government expect to do? Are they going to go ahead and continue killing, apprehending and torturing until when? That is the question and that is why what is happening in Bahrain right now is really horrific.
Press TV: Isn’t the tragic reality that probably more people will be killed especially if they do come out in force tomorrow. Bahrain is such a small country. Why is it important enough for Saudi Arabia and the UAE to come in? Why is it important to have a US base there or for there to be silence about what is happening on the ground there?
Masri: They may be killed even if they don’t come out. This is what we need to understand. The protesters may be killed even if they do not protest tomorrow because it is known who they are, and they could be apprehended from their homes and tortured.
Yesterday there were reports that 20 people were apprehended from the hospital, and 19 injured and one of who had died, and they were apprehended and taken to goodness knows where. So the protesters know that they may die either way.
The protests are going to continue and it’s up to the Bahraini government, and it’s up to every individual Bahraini who believes in human rights to join those protests. Even the Khalifas need to join the protests and have an internal revolution in the country. As to why Bahrain is so important for the region, it’s not the size that matters. It’s the location and because of its location, it’s right now the largest US naval force in the region.
So for the United States it’s very important because they use it to attack and conduct other kinds of wars and to control the region strategically. For the [P]GCC countries, it’s important for the sole region. If democracy were to take place in Bahrain, it would become contagious, and more people would demand it in Saudi Arabia and more people would demand it in the Emirates and Qatar.
It’s this fever of democracy that is dangerous for the monarchs. It’s not dangerous to the people. It’s inspiring to the people, but it’s dangerous to the monarchs. So the question is how long can a people remain oppressed?
Many of us did not think it would be possible for the Egyptian people to rise up and to succeed. But they have proven to us in Egypt that after years of struggle in Egypt they are succeeding in Egypt. They are an inspiration to the Arab world.
So even if the Bahraini government is supported by the [P]GCC, supported by the United States, and supported by the UK, is successful in destroying this one revolution, they will ultimately fail because the desire for people to live free and dignified is a desire that is much too strong and cannot be crushed.