Is it possible that the “English dog” bites its American master?
2015-01-24 - 2:07 ص
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Today, all the international news reports about Bahrain state that it hosts “The Fifth Fleet of the US Navy”. Meanwhile, people and history are aware that the British Emperor in the Gulf was replaced by an American “Base” to match with the rules of the new political games’ played by great powers, which had been changed since the end of WWII with the rise of America.
Is it possible that now with the establishment, at a cost to Bahrain of £15 million, of a British base could change the rules of the game again? Is it possible that David Cameron’s illusions concerning the return of the “Emperor” could come true based on an invitation this time? Finally, is it possible that the “English dog” bites its American master?
“The British appear to sense an opportunity to capitalize on the tension between the Bahrainis and the Americans”, mentions an article in the Huffington Post website. However, this sensing resulted in signing a new agreement between London and Manama on 6th December 2014 that allows for the establishment of a new naval base for Britain on Bahrain’s coast. From his side, the Bahraini king said that he wanted to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the start of the colonial history in his own way and could find no better way to celebrate this occasion than with a new agreement that recalls the first one through which Britain occupied the Gulf’s coasts in 1816.
Over a year before the singing of 2014 agreement, specifically when Britain decided to end the era of colonizing Bahrain, the Bahraini king repeated in front of Queen Elizabeth his father’s, Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, question, “Who asked you to leave?” That was the first time the Bahraini king unveiled this historical statement. However, according to a recently disclosed historical document, the surprise was that Isa bin Salman asked the American forces to leave Bahrain at that time. The document also disclosed that the American navy received two evacuation notifications from the Bahraini government in 1973 and 1975 in the wake of the British forces withdrawal in 1971, yet the American navy refused to withdraw from Bahrain.
Indeed, not only did the king want political support and security from Britain but also he wanted to rewind history 40 years to remind the US that Al Khalifa would never welcome it.
Al Khalifa did not take sovereignty into their consideration during the whole period of ruling the country. Historically, for the sake of preserving their rule, Al Khalifa made use of the great powers clashes over their control in Bahrain. Nonetheless, according to influential countries considerations, it doesn’t seem that Britain organized its return to Bahrain with the Americans. Meanwhile, the US ambassador, Thomas Krajeski, did not welcome the British presence.
In the historical context, of the “colonizing” era, Britain did not allow Washington to open a consulate in Bahrain although the latter has repeated its quest several times since 1942. Another newly unveiled document assumes that Britain refused to establish an American consulate in Bahrain because it did not want to give Bahrain any access to other foreign countries, even its closest ally, analysts say.
Thus, did US propose Britain an access to Bahrain today contrary to what Britain had done in the 40s of the last century? Or did this happen in the context of what the former Senior Intelligence Service Officer, Emile Nakhle, described as “the silly game” played by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa through driving a wedge between London and Washington?
The king became upset by Washington’s stances towards him and therefore London was the key. The king resorted to differences between the two allies stances concerning the uprisings in Bahrain, thus, he started to build personal relations with the UK ambassador, Ian Lindsay, while encouraging the Sunni advocates to attack the US ambassador, Thomas Krajeski.
The Crown Prince, who is seen by the westerns as a reformist, has publically slapped the US in its face during a speech he delivered in an international forum in Manama as he excluded the US when thanking the states that helped Bahrain face the uprising. He later described the US as schizophrenic when dealing with its allies.
Britain seemed happy in this role; while Bahrain was the naughty son in the eyes of the countries, Britain was the kind sponsor who proposed: legal and security training programs, agreements, investment opportunities, diplomatic arrangement within the UN institutions, immunity, political support for every formal step and others.
Unlike the White House, Downing Street has welcomed the Bahraini King, Hamad bin Isa, twice since the revolution outbroke despite the strong criticism against David Cameron in London’s press. Moreover, the British reports that tackle Bahrain’s human rights state in Bahrain are almost the same as those issued by the Bahraini government. Meanwhile, UK ambassador, Ian Lindsay, has been labeled as the new “Charles Belgrave”.
When Washington slightly commented on arm trades with Manama, British tended to sell Bahrain more arms. Exports of British arms to Bahrain has skyrocketed since 14thFebruary uprising. During the last year, the total value of the British exported arms reached £17 million; the arm deals included machine guns, hand grenades and military training equipment. In addition, the British government contributed to sell Eurofighter Typhoons to Saudi Arabia and it tries, with the help of Prince Andrew, to provide Bahrain with such aircrafts.
With the invitation of the Bahraini King, Britain returned to Bahrain voiding a historical decision concerning withdrawing form “East of Suez”; the thing that surprised the whole world and mixed all the internationally known political calculations.
Britain did not want to leave the Gulf, thus it assigned a “Master” over it during a specific period, but the historical and geopolitical conditions hindered his continuance. On the other hand, in behind-the-scenes talk, one of the British Generals said after signing the agreement that the “East of Suez decision was taken in a wrong way from the beginning and thus has to be voided.”
Although all military analysts confirm that any British presence in the Gulf will not cost that much and will not have the same size or capacities compared to the US military presence, Britain surpasses America due to its 200-year-history in the Gulf.
Because Britain values this “history” and its effective role in the political relations it forms with the regimes that helped in consolidating its rule on Gulf’s monarchies, it did not draw limits with the ruling Al Khalifa family during all its bloody history towards its citizens. It is to note that the bloody history has been detected since Major Daily’s report in 1923 after the dispatch sent by the “Bahrainis” to the UK Queen, right up until BICI report in 2011.
In 1923, Britain took actions and removed Bahrain’s governor, Isa bin Hamad Al Khalifa, and replaced him with his son, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, after it had set a program of reforms that maintains its interests in the light of Bahrain’s stability. Britain then sent a British counselor who ran the country on the behalf of the new governor. This measure, that maintains Al Khalifa ruling in this tumultuous and most stressful time, was not the first of its kind in the history of British colonialization, for Britain had already removed Al Khalifa governors. However, when the governor post turned to be vacant, Britain brought someone from Qatar (Isa bin Ali) in order not make the world free of “Al Khalifa”.
Thus, in every “transitional” period, Britain dealt with Al Khalifa being part of its history which it wished to maintain. Hence, in 14 February uprising; the last stages of this long political clash, Britain’s stance was odd with respect to the whole world for it resisted the global political climate to maintain what remained of “history” and “emperor illusions” as the western authors call.
In any case, the critics agree “The British quest to recapture some degree of status, if not a sense of greatness, risks a heavy price.” Despite this fact, “the bigger issue is that the Bahraini initiative makes Britain more central in the Middle East conflict.”
Paul Rogers, a professor at Bradford University, says, “There will, in short, be a striking coalescence of views between enemies. Extreme Sunni Islamist groups such as the Islamic State will portray Mina Salman as evidence of British support for unacceptable elitist Sunni leaderships; Iran will see it as offering support to the Bahraini royal family as it suppresses the marginalized Shi’a majority. To be able to antagonize Raqqa and Tehran at the same time is really quite an achievement.”
The Gulf is overwhelmed with millions of pounds resulting from British investments and exportations and it homes at least 175 thousand British immigrants. Was this
new British base established to be bliss; i.e. to protect the immigrants, or a curse?
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