Five bombs exploded in the Bahraini capital Manama on Monday, although responsibility has not been discerned, in an indication that the 21-month pro-democracy uprising has taken a turn for the worst.
But the opposition has been largely peaceful throughout the nearly two years of protests that urge democratic reforms. Bahrain’s population is majority Shi’ite, while the regime is a Sunni-led monarchy, and attacks on locals are unlikely targets for the Shi’ite activists.
“Opposition politician Matar Matar of the Shi’ite party Wefaq said he doubted that opposition activists were behind Monday’s attacks,” reports The New York Times.
“This incident is strange – why would anyone target workers?” he said. “I’m worried that police and military are losing control of their units or it is (preparation) before declaring martial law.”
Maryam al-Khawaja, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said: “As always, we condemn violence but, given the Bahraini authorities’ background in spreading disinformation, we call for an independent investigation into the deaths of the two migrant workers.”
Khawaja added that the bombings are “not grounds to start a campaign of collective punishment, arbitrary arrests, and torture, as we’ve see happen before.”
The regime in Bahrain last month banned all forms of protest or demonstration, desperate to put an end to the pressure the regime has been feeling for almost two years.
The regime hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which allows the United States to “project power” in the Persian Gulf and patrol the Straits of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil passes. That ruthless geo-political advantage is not something the Obama administration is willing to give up for the sake of democracy and human rights.
Banning all protests and demonstration is a dramatic violation of basic rights, but it is only one aspect of the repressive, martial-law type responses from the US-supported dictatorship. Others have included systematic torture, beatings, weaponizing tear gas, imposing curfews, harassing well-known activists, show trials and detentions, and cracking down on press freedoms, among many others.