Washington’s Dysfunctional Relationship with Bahrain’s Ruling Family
By Brian Dooley
Bahrain, says The Hill blog piece posted by Rob Sobhani on Friday, May 23, is a “reliable friend of America,” and a “loyal ally.” But the reality is that Bahrain can be considered a reliable friend only in the same way that Lance Armstrong could be considered good for professional cycling – impressive for a while but ultimately utterly embarrassing.
Bahrain, an official “major non-NATO ally” of the United States, startled Washington in early 2011 when it rounded up thousands of people following widespread calls for democratic reform. Dozens of medics who had treated injured protestors were tortured into signing false confessions about crimes they hadn’t committed. Several people were tortured to death. Much of the peaceful opposition remains in jail in Bahrain, and dissent is routinely crushed by a government where the king’s uncle has been the unelected prime minister of the country for over 40 years. Despite promises to reform, the ruling family still regularly cracks down on criticism – penalties for criticizing the king on Twitter have been increased to seven years in jail.