We cannot forget ongoing trauma in Bahrain

While Washington and much of the West turns away, citizens must continue raising their voices. Anthony Shadid writes in the New York Times: Activists trade stories of colleagues forced to eat feces in prison and high-ranking Shiite bureaucrats compelled to crawl in their offices like infants. Human rights groups say 43 Shiite mosques and religious…

Who would like to provide PR for a brutal, US-backed dictatorship?

PR Watch has the news: Bahrian’s Sunni-led monarchy has hired the Washington, D.C. PR firm Qorvis Communications at a rate of $40,000/month to help improve its image after the Bahraini government, struggling to suppress a Shia-led protest movement, attacked the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders (DWB). The group offers medical care to injured protesters who…

Global dissidents may not want US openly backing them

Promoting web freedom is a noble idea, especially since so many autocratic regimes and Western multinationals are working together to stop citizens accessing the glories of information on the internet. But this idea is full of potential problems (via the New York Times), not least because Washington has a shocking record of supporting dictatorships at…

The Net Delusion is alive and well

My following book review appeared in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald: THE NET DELUSION Evgeny Morozov Allen Lane, 408pp, $29.95 As people in the Middle East have been protesting in the streets against Western-backed dictators and using social media to connect and circumvent state repression, it would be easy to dismiss The Net Delusion as almost…

Britain happy to train Saudi thugs for crowd control

The real face of London’s foreign policy posture: Britain is training Saudi Arabia‘s national guard – the elite security force deployed during the recent protests in Bahrain – in public order enforcement measures and the use of sniper rifles. The revelation has outraged human rights groups, which point out that the Foreign Office recognises that…

America’s “love” for Middle East democracy

Completely non-existent: “No leniency [1].” That was the warning from Bahrain’s crown prince last week as government forces continued cracking down on protesters, activists, journalists and doctors. It was issued alongside yet another promise of reform by the Bahraini government. The warning was also met with silence from the United States. The U.S., which has…