The U.S. has a keen interest in suppressing the popular uprising in the tiny Persian Gulf island kingdom of Bahrain. Since WWII, the U.S. has stationed its 5th Fleet in Bahrain and has propped up the ruling family, which is Sunni and allied with Saudi Arabia. But the Bahraini population has traditionally been Shia and aligned with Iran. Seeing the uprising against the ruling family as Iranian influenced, the U.S. has given tacit support to Saudi military intervention and violent repression of the protests. Here is a recent report from Russia Today:
Rhetoric Versus Reality: US Involvement in Bahrain
While NATO continues bombarding Libya, they have quite a different approach with other countries–take for instance Bahrain. The country’s crown prince was in Washington DC last week and made a statement at a briefing with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “We are committed to changes and to find out ways to closer work with the US. We are a very important ally to the US,” said the prince.
Clinton expressed support for Bahrain, stressing it was a very important for the US. While they were talking about reforms, however, dialogue out of Bahrain shows that that is very far from the case overseas.
Michel Chossudovsky, the director of the Center for Research on Globalization, joins RT to talk about the matter.
Bahrain is a very interesting place with a tortured history of invasion and conquest spanning millennia. But this history has made the people and culture quite diverse, cosmopolitan and tolerant. There are many parallels that remind me of Hawai’i. The name Bahrain, like Kailua, means “Two Seas”. The pearl industry was a major industry in Bahrain as it was in Ke Awalau o Pu’uloa (Pearl Harbor) during the early-1800s. Like Hawai’i, Bahrain is strategically located, making it a coveted location for a military base and a prime target for war between competing powers. Like Hawai’i, “prosperity” and “modernization” has meant the destruction of the environment and loss of traditional ways of living.
In his article “Bahrain: U.S. Backs Saudi Military Intervention, Conflict With Iran” March 16, 2011, Rick Rozoff describes the U.S. interests in Bahrain:
That Saudi military forces entered Bahrain two days after Secretary Gates left would lead any sensible person to draw the conclusion that the Pentagon chief had discussed more than Iran and Libya with the kingdom’s top two government and defense officials. Though discussions on Iran would not have been unrelated to those concerning a U.S.-backed deployment of Saudi and other Gulf Cooperation Council forces to Bahrain, as some 70-75 percent of Bahrain’s population is Shi’a Muslim by way of confessional background although the ruling family is Sunni.
A Bahraini protester quoted by Reuters on March 15 commented on the Saudi-led military incursion this way: “It’s part of a regional plan and they’re fighting on our (land). If the Americans were men they would go and fight Iran directly but not in our country.”
The U.S. Fifth Fleet, one of six used by Washington to patrol the world’s seas and oceans, is headquartered near Manama, where between 4,000-6,000 American military personnel are stationed. Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, U.S. military partners but not hosts of American bases, Bahrain is vital to U.S. international military and energy strategy, and allowing a doctrinal affinity to in any manner augment Iran’s influence in its Persian Gulf neighbor is anathema to the White House, State Department and Pentagon.
The Fifth Fleet’s area of responsibility encompasses 2.5 million square miles of water, including the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean as far south as Kenya.  Aircraft carriers, destroyers and other warships are assigned to it on a rotational basis and the fleet is the naval component of U.S. Central Command, sharing a commander and headquarters in Bahrain with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. Central Command’s purview stretches from Egypt in the west to Kazakhstan, bordering Russia and China, in the east.
The Fifth Fleet has approximately 30,000 personnel stationed across the region.
The geopolitical importance of Bahrain was demonstrated when the U.S.’s top military officer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, visited several nations in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa last month: Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti and Kuwait, with a last-minute stop in Bahrain not listed on his itinerary.
The day after Saudi and Emirati military forces arrived in Bahrain, several thousand protesters descended on the Saudi embassy to demonstrate their opposition to the intervention. As the Reuters news agency reported, “Bahrainis are concerned that their tiny island could become a proxy battleground for a wider stand-off between the Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab countries, all U.S. allies, and Shi’ite-ruled Iran, a U.S. foe.”
In March, when troops fired on peaceful demonstrators, commentator George Galloway discussed “War on Libya, Saudi Arabian Invasion of Bahrain”: