According to the US-based organization known as Physicians for Human Rights, Bahrain’s chemical war against its people has continued ever since and included numerous instances in which soldiers released gases in residential neighbourhoods and tossed gas canisters into the houses of suspected opposition activists. Unfortunately, efforts by the PHR to raise the matter with the American government have so failed to produce results.
Observers call attention to the fact that Bahrain has close ties with Washington’s most important Arab ally Saudi Arabia and lends its territory and facilities to the command headquarters of America’s Fifth Fleet. Accordingly, the US tends to turn a blind eye to instances of rights abuse in Bahrain.
We hear about this from Russian political analyst Dr Vilen Ivanov:
"Double standards are apparently at work. Whenever the Americans want to bring about an economically or politically welcome regime change in a foreign country, they intensify their human rights and democracy championship. The latest instance of this approach was Libya. On the contrary, whenever they want to preserve a regime, they ignore its human rights record."
Last year, the PHR reported numerous arrests of Bahraini medical workers who provided help to opposition demonstrators after police crackdowns. Washington, however, limited its reaction to this obvious humanitarian violation to suspending arms contracts with Bahrain.
Many American politicians warn that supporting the Bahraini opposition, which is mostly Shia, would blow into the sails of America’s arch foe Iran.
The Russian Arab world watcher Dr Yelena Melkumyan disagrees:
"Bahrain’s protests do not boil down to purely confessional grievances. The opposition includes many Sunnis, as well as Shias. Its demands are political and focus on installing a government which would not be led by a member of Bahrain’s ruling family. Importantly, not all Shia groups in Bahrain have Iranian support. The parliamentary opposition has many times distanced itself from Iran. It says it represents Bahrainis, rather than Shias or Sunnis."
The United Kingdom, too, is very choosy when it comes to exposing human rights violations. Last year, it backed the anti-Gaddafi rebels in Libya. Today, it is providing covert support to the anti-Assad opposition in Syria. The regime in Bahrain, however, appears to have so far been spared London’s wrath. The UK has dispatched a veteran Scotland Yard officer, named John Yates, on a mission to help the Bahrainis modernize their security apparatus. Bahrain’s crackdowns have already become better targeted and more expeditious than before.