'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, March 21, 2011

Revolution the Only Solution (Part 4) 

Good news in Yemen:

Defense Ministry Mohammad Nasser Aliis just gave a brief statement saying the army would defend Saleh against any coup against democracy.

There have been dozens of major defections today, including the most powerful military officer, who controls 60 percent of the army.

France's foreign ministry has said that Saleh's departure is is unavoidable, according to Al Jazeera. Washington is still sticking with its ally.

Meanwhile, in Bahrain, Secretary of State Clinton announces US support for the Saudi troops that have entered the country:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton affirmed here Saturday the US commitment to protect the security of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, accusing Iran of being a factor of instability in the region.

Iran pursues a private agenda to destabilize neighboring countries and undermine peace and stability in the Gulf region, Clinton said.

She made the remarks in a press conference at the Elysee Palace after a summit of world leaders on the international military action against the regime of Libyan leader Col Muammar Qaddafi.

It’s a priority for the US administration to work with partners in the Gulf region against the concern over the behavior of Iran, she said.

Commenting on the deployment of troops from the Peninsula Shield Force in the Kingdom of Bahrain in the wake of violent protests, Clinton said it was a sovereign right for Bahrain to seek help from GCC member states under the joint defense treaty they had signed.

Has no one told Clinton that she sounds eerily like the Soviet apparatchiks who justified the 1968 invasion of Czechoslavakia on the ground that the people there needed to be protected against a bourgeois counterrevolution? I am starting to worry that, while the Iranian nuclear research program has not ignited a conflict between the US and Iran, turmoil in Bahrain just might.

And, right on cue, Ethan Bronner of The New York Times writes an article empathizing with the plight of the Sunni elite:

When Bahrain’s pro-democracy movement began its demonstrations in Pearl Square last month, Atif Abdulmalik was supportive. An American-educated investment banker and a member of the Sunni Muslim elite, he favored a constitutional monarchy and increasing opportunities and support for the poorer Shiite majority.Atif Abdulmalik, an investment banker, was initially supportive of the protests, but then feared they would harm the economy.

But in the past week or two, the nature of the protest shifted — and so did any hope that demands for change would cross sectarian lines and unite Bahrainis in a cohesive democracy movement. The mainly Shiite demonstrators moved beyond Pearl Square, taking over areas leading to the financial and diplomatic districts of the capital. They closed off streets with makeshift roadblocks and shouted slogans calling for the death of the royal family.

Twenty-five percent of Bahrain’s G.D.P. comes from banks, Mr. Abdulmalik said as he sat in the soft Persian Gulf sunshine. I sympathize with many of the demands of the demonstrators. But no country would allow the takeover of its financial district. The economic future of the country was at stake. What happened this week, as sad as it is, is good.

I'm shocked, shocked to find that the Times considers the perspective of an American educated investment banker critical to understanding events in Bahrain. After all, it is physically located in Manhattan. Here we have an illustration of what As'ad Abukhalil stated in relation to Egypt, that the movement would, over time, become more and more class conscious with the passage of time.

While the US and Saudi Arabia act to polarize the political struggle along sectarian lines so as to make the Iranians the fall guy, the situation on the ground is one of increasing class conflict, with the the predominately Shia poor focusing their anger on the obscene wealth and power of the al-Khalida family. Clearly, there is a synergy between the sectarianism of the US and the Gulf States, and the emerging class consciousness on the streets. It is a sign of the desperation of the US and Saudi Arabia that they have no choice but to adopt a strategy for containing the protests that has the alarming consequence of bringing the class struggle to the fore.

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