Press TV has conducted an interview with Kevin Barrett, author and Middle East expert from Madison, about massive rallies in Bahrain to protest revocation of citizenship of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim.
The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Many people are wondering why this sudden and very quick crackdown is on these religious scholars especially in such quick succession.
Barrett: Well, I think the regime in Bahrain knows that its days are numbered. It’s a colonially-imposed regime. The British essentially bit off Bahrain and now it’s a US military base, where the Fifth Fleet is headquartered. It doesn’t represent its people and its government is completely unrepresentative and they had to actually call in a Saudi invasion in order to keep this neo-colonial control of Bahrain going.
So, I think that they’re very concerned about this long-term peaceful democracy movement that began during the so-called Arab Spring and was one of the most authentic if not the most authentic expressions of the Arab Spring, which has continued on its peaceful path without evolving into a Western-supported destabilization operation or civil war as happened in Libya and Syria, but instead the people of Bahrain have steadfastly continued to protest peacefully and demand their full rights and ultimately try to liberate their country from this neo-imperial occupation.
And that is essentially a threat that the regime can’t possibly meet in the long term in any other way than to crush the aspirations of the people of Bahrain. And I think they’re trying to buy in to a sort of a Saudi and perhaps Zionist designed approach to split the Shia Muslims from Sunni Muslims in the region to try to disguise what’s actually a liberation struggle against a neo-colonial regime as some kind of sectarian issue, which it’s not. And so, I think that’s one of the reasons that the Bahraini regime is focusing on these clerics, they’re trying to make it look like a sectarian issue when it isn’t.
Press TV: Why isn’t the US speaking up more? They barbed wire fences now around the city or the town of Diraz that is Sheikh Isa Qassim’s town. We’re also hearing of Saudi forces blocking off certain roads to Bahrain. This is all quite a bit of an escalation, isn’t it?
Barrett: It is and one should not expect the United States, that self-professed leading defender of human rights, to step in into this case and try to pressure the Bahraini government to make any meaningful reforms, because essentially it’s the US that’s occupying Bahrain, the Fifth Fleet is there. Bahrain is one big US military base and the Al Khalifa monarchy is in place as the local puppets of the empire. So, there’s no way that the US is going to essentially turn over Bahrain to the people of Bahrain, who do not want the Fifth Fleet there, in the same way that it is not going to turn over Yemen to the independence forces in Yemen, who don’t want US military bases there either.
And this just underlines the incredible hypocrisy of US policy, which professes to be interested in human rights but instead is really interested in conquering the world, establishing an empire, ringing the entire world with a thousand-plus military bases and ultimately imposing a kind of global totalitarian dictatorship. Anyone who gets in the way of that, which is basically anyone who wants any kind of independence, sovereignty or autonomy anywhere even in places like Bahrain, relatively small countries, is in the gun sights of the empire. So, unfortunately the Bahraini people are going to have to be very patient as they undergo this long-term peaceful struggle for liberation from empire.
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror.
He also has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS, and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications.
Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin; where he ran for Congress in 2008. He currently works as a nonprofit organizer, author, and talk radio host.