Middle East: The Dictator's Handbook now in Bahrain

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

All of a sudden, many ageing Arab regimes found themselves under the fire of their protesting peoples. The previously predicted wave of revolutions that is taking place in the Arab world has forced the rulers there to try all the tricks they know in order to save their thrones. However it seems that all dictators think alike, and copying each other is the dictators best plan.

Red Carpet for the King of Bahrain
Red Carpet for the King of Bahrain

By the Brazilian illustrator, Carlos Latuff

Eliminating the witnesses
Following the foot steps of the regimes in Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt, the Internet was slowed down in Bahrain. Also journalists on the ground weren't very welcomed there.

Pro-regime Rallies!
A couple of weeks ago, and during the Egyptian revolution, pro-Mubarak rallies were seen in the streets of Cairo, and now there are similar pro-regime ones in Bahrain. Less than two days ago protesters were attacked by Bahraini security forces while they were sleeping. While those pro-regime rallies aren't being stopped, due to the following Twitter update by Hussain Yousif from Bahrain:

@hussain_info: Many tweets about pro Gov rally in Manama and Riffa ignoring the army orders and not being stopped in.

State-owned televisions also prefer to focus only the pro-regime rallies. The Egyptian twitter user, Hazemps, referred to it as a scenario that's being repeated in different places.

@Hazemps: محافظات البحرين تبتهج بمسيرات تعبر عن الولاء للوطن والقيادة الرشيدة ( نفس سيناريو سقوط نظام بن علي ومبارك)
@Hazemps: Cheerful marches in the governorates of Bahrain showing their support to the country and its wise leader. (Same scenario that preceded the fall of Ben Ali and Mubarak's regimes)

The Lebanese blogger, Jamal Ghosn, also compared those who attacked the protesters in Bahrain to the ones who attacked the protesters in Egypt:

@jamalghosn: Replicating the Camels and Mules scene in Tahrir, Hired mercenaries in armoured vehicles raid peaceful protests in Bahrain before dawn.

Pro-regime propaganda

The officials in Egypt, as well as the state-owned TV kept on spreading lies about the reporters and the protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo. The media then accused the Egyptian protesters of having Iranian, Israeli, and American agendas. They also claimed that they all belong to Hamas and to the Muslim Brotherhood. Abdulla Otaibi from Kuwait wrote how the protesters in Bahrain are accused of having Iranian agendas too:

@aotaibi: للأسف مؤيدي السلطات البحرينية، لايملكون سوى فزاعة التخويف من “الشيعة” وأنهم يتبعون “ولاية الفقيه” الايرانية، نفس قصة الاخوان المسلمين بمصر
@aotaibi: Unfortunately: Those who support the regime in Bahrain have nothing to do but scaring people of the Shia protesters and saying that they follow Iran's religious leaders commands. Same story as that of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Egyptian blogger, Mina Zekri, wonders if the Minister of Information of the overthrown Egyptian regimes works in Bahrain too:

@minazekri: الشعب أغلبيته شيعة، والنظام السياسي بيضطهد أغلبية السكان، إزاي فيه ناس شايفاها مظاهرات طائفية؟ هي البحرين فيها أنس الفقي برضو؟
@minazekri: The majority of the people there are Shia, and the regime oppresses that majority. How come anyone sees these protests as sectorian ones? Do they have their own Anas El-Fiqqi in Bahrain too.

Arwa Mahmoud from Egypt as well as Khaled from Bahrain and Jenna Alawi also commented on the sectarian claims:

@arwasm: The recent uprising is a popular uprising by BOTH Sunnis & Shia, initiated by a Sunni group called Wa3d. Sunnis have equal grievances #Feb14
@khalidbmm:بالامس حاول سفاح الخارجية ان يقول ان الشعب انقسم عموديا بثا للطائفية ونحن نقول له الدولة انقسمت افقيا بين الحاكم والمحكوم
@khalidbmm: Yesterday, the minister of foreign affairs said that the people of Bahrain are now vertically divided, referring the the religious sects. But we tell him, the division in the country is a horizontal division between the regime and the people.
@jennaalawi: Crowd chants: “No difference between Sunni and Shia, We are all Bahraini”. #Bahrain #Feb14
Bahrain: Doctored Photo

Saeed Al-Wahabi believes that this photo was doctored in order to prove the Bahraini government's claims. The picture on top is said to be the original one. It's handwritten and the banner carries calls for a peaceful demonstration. While the picture at the bottom – the one believed to be doctored because of the computer fonts on it – carries slogan supporting Iran and cursing Arabs. This incident reminds us with the famous incident that took place in Al-Ahram, the Egyptian top state-owned newspaper, a few months ago.

Photo taken from @S_Alwahabi YFrog account

FroozyO, and in response to the foreign agendas claims, sent on Twitter what's believed to be one the Bahraini martyr's last Facebook status, who said that he is ready to sacrifice his own life for his country.

Dialogue and Negotiations

The King's call for dialogue, and the recent appearance of Bahrain's Crown Prince on National TV are also compared to Mubarak's speeches and Omar Suleiman's calls for negotiations.

@idrobinhood:Bahrain king offers dialogue to resolve crisis http://t.co/kYlhVhy. How did Mubarak become king of #Bahrain! #Feb14 #lulu More double talk.

Will same route lead to same destination?

Just like the regimes, the demonstrators in the different countries also follow each others footsteps. Even the locations where the protests are held are some how similar. A great resemblance is seen between the Lulu (Pearl) roundabout in Bahrain, and Tahrir Square in Egypt. The Palestinian blogger, Muhammad Abu-Allan wrote about that resemblance in his blog.

من الآن فصاعداً ستعرف العواصم العربية من خلال ميادينها التي باتت تشكل رمزاً للمطالبة بالحرية وإسقاط أنظمة الظلم والفساد والاستبداد، فبعد شارع بورقيبة في تونس، وميدان التحرير في القاهرة، يعلو اسم ميدان اللؤلؤة في البحرين
From now on, the Arab capitals will be known by the squares there, that became a the symbol of freedom and people's demands to topple the unjust and corrupted regimes. After Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis, and Tahrir Square in Cairo, here comes the Lulu roundabout in Bahrian.

But the question is, does this resemblance help the regime to learn from each other's mistakes? Abu-Allan doesn't think they learnt anything:

النظام السياسي في البحرين وغيره من الأنظمة العربية لا تريد التعلم أو الاتعاظ مما جرى في تونس ومصر، ولا يريدون الاقتناع أن الشعوب إن هبت طلباً للحرية لا يمكن أن تكسر شوكتها مهما بلغ حجم القتل أو الاعتقال بين المحتجين، لا بل أصبحت الممارسات القمعية لأجهزة الأمن العربية بمثابة الوقود لهذه الثورات الشعبية ضد أنظمة الظلم والفساد.
The political regime in Bahrain, like other Arab regimes refuses to learn the lessons from what happened in Tunisia and Egypt. They do not want to understand that when people ask for their freedom, detention and murder will never be able to stop them. In fact, the brutal reactions of the Arab security forces are now more like fuel for the people's revolutions against unjust and corruption.

Michael Habib also wrote:

@maverickzz: There has to be an Arab Dictator Handbook out there. I can't believe they are all thinking the same way, same orders, out of Luck.

And finally, Essam El-Zamel from Saudi Arabia, agrees with both Abu-Allan and Habib. He believes that this pattern makes it easy to predict the regimes final destination:

@essamz: نفس الأخطاء تتكرر في البحرين:مطالب مشروعة ومعقولة للمتظاهرين، تجابه بتصرفات حمقاء وعنف من قبل الحكومة،ترتفع المطالب ثم يختفي النظام
@essamz:Same mistakes are being repeated in Bahrain. Reasonable and legal demands of the protesters are faced with stupid and brutal reactions from the government. The ceiling of the demands then get raised higher and higher, and finally the regime falls.

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

1 comment

  • Salman

    The regime of the mideast are similar ” Dictatorships” Bahrain regime is no different, infact the current regime is the by far the worest, about 65-70% of peaceful demonstrators were faced with the most awaful attack ever taken place in the world, all type of jancis torture are at large in Bahrain. More than 35 civilians have been including a 52 year old lady was shoot in the head while driving, others either tortured or shoot to death. More than 70 women as young as (14 years) are arrested, the sexual abuse at large in Bahrain. Even young and midel age men and women are rapid. More than 1000 people bhind bars, 30 people missing assumed killed. over 3000 people have been dismissed because they peacefully demonstrated asking for democracy. The regime is prepared to kill thousands to keep grip on te power, unfortunately Euroe and the USA are only interested in their benefits, thy are not bothered about democracy, the Bahraini King and his family own the whole Island including the people!!!!!! shame on the super power, they are watching the killing and given the blessing to the dictatorship the equipment to kill demonstrators. Lately more than 40 praying mosques have been destroyed, even the Muslim “Quran” bearn…. Shame on you.

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