The Saudi forces that entered Bahrain at the request of the ruling Al-Khalifa family last month were only going to be used to help “guard strategic buildings and infrastructure’ – so we were told. The world looked on as smiling Saudi soldiers in their pristine uniforms and smart armoured cars motored into Manama – and said nothing.
Three weeks later these same troops have ‘lost’ their uniforms and are terrorising Bahrainis who dare to oppose the ruling clique. They are actively hunting down anyone who has taken part in the Lulu Square demonstrations. Over 600 people have been detained and 200+ are ‘missing’. The US has said nothing, Britain has said nothing.
What will be the outcome of this shameful silence? Simply that those striving for democratic change will believe that the West tacitly supports the Al-Khalifa regime. It will also trash the West’s credibility in the region – certainly with those seeking change.
What politicians in the West and despotic rulers like the Al-Khalifa family appear not to have understood is that the genie is out of the bottle. The barrier of fear has been breached. Those who want change and to embrace democracy no longer have ‘the fear’ – and fear is what has kept these grubby regimes in power for so long. Democracy will prevail.
Blinded by its own self-interest, confused by its own indecision and suffocated by misplaced diplomatic caution, the West will rue the day that it traded its principles for short term, thoughtless expediency.