Crackdown on Arab uprisings: who should the West condemn? Just Syria? Or maybe also Bahrain and Saudi Arabia?

Jim Morin in Miami Herald: the West and the Libyan hot potato / Al Quds Al Arabi, London: bombs, knives, blood... /Al Watan, Syria: demonstrators allegedly misled / The Economist: what does this mean for us? / Gulf  Daily News, Bahrain, UN Human Rights Council, Geneva: these states sit on UN Commission on Human Rights!



Western states and NGOs have sharply criticized the Syrian government’s violent crackdown on demonstrators. And justly so. The killing of hundreds of peaceful protesters is intolerable. But the latest round of condemnations stands in marked contrast to the relative silence that prevailed when the government of Bahrain did something quite similar just a few weeks ago. The small Gulf state, recall, had recruited help from neighboring Saudi Arabia to violently repress its dissidents, with many killed and injured.

German version of this contribution / Lesen Sie diesen Beitrag in Deutsch



What do we learn from these conspicuously different reactions to the conduct of the security forces in Bahrain and Syria? We learn that human rights are indeed important to us here in the West. But every once in a while, it seems, interests are even more important! In the case of Bahrain, the West desperately wants to prevent the collapse of the state’s absolute monarchy.

Chaos and anarchy would follow. Oil supplies would be jeopardized. Saudi Arabia would face a potential spillover of instability. Iran would substantially increase its influence in the region. Last but not least, the U.S. might be forced to seek out a new home base for its naval Fifth Fleet. In this particular case, human rights can wait a little longer.

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