Muslim countries should act on Bahrain crisis: Dr Shahid Qureshi

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Interview with journalist and political analyst Shahid Qureshi

I think it is about time that the Muslim countries should realize that they need to get their act together, and it is very unfortunate, what’s happening in Bahrain.

These guys [ruling certain Arab states], all of a sudden, in one night, became kings and princes and princesses. So they do not have any experience of statecraft, how to run a state.”

The Bahraini regime forces continue their violent crackdown on peaceful anti-regime protests in the country.Bahrainis hold King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa responsible for the deaths of the protesters during the popular uprising that began in the country in February 2011.

Press TV has talked with journalist and political analyst, Shahid Qureshi to further discuss the issue.

The video also offers the opinions of two additional guests, director of the Center for Middle East Studies, Hisham Jaber, and former assistant professor at the University of Bahrain Colin Cavell.

What follows is rough transcript of the interview.

Press TV: Mr. Qureshi what do you think about this? And I would like to bring in my question here, the statements that have been made by the Obama administration.

We had his spokesman saying, and I am quoting him that, he condemned the violence directed against police and government institutions in Bahrain as well as the excessive force, he said, and indiscriminate use of tear gas against protesters by the Bahraini security forces.

So how do these kinds of statements become accepted by the international community?

Qureshi: Well, the international community has its own agenda, and when you called international community, I think one should be very careful, because international community does not mean the United States and a few others. They are more than another 200 countries.

So if you are specific about that, these countries are of this opinion, then it will be clearer to your viewers and to your listeners.

I don’t see that people all over the world agree with what the United States says, most of the times and most of the times they are correct.

What really needs to happen is, it is the people protesting against their own regime and if it was Ukraine and [ex-Ukrainian Prime Minister] Yulia Tymoshenko’s case there would be an orange revolution or if it was somewhere the people we do not like in Syria or if it was in somewhere, Libya or- so it is a very pick-and-choose kind of situation.

So we do not expect people to be just or give you a fair deal, I mean it is very unrealistic to expect that.

And I think it is about time that the Muslim countries should realize that they need to get their act together and it is very unfortunate, what’s happening in Bahrain.

I mean it is a small country and the rulers are having problems in terms of ruling their own people.

I mean I was given an example of when the British were ruling the biggest empire in the world, they did not have these kinds of situations, they gave empowerment to the people, maybe at the end of their time but they did not behave like these kingdoms or their princes.

Press TV: Mr. Qureshi, would you agree with this analysis that the Bahraini regime is not independent in its decision makings, that it is being pressured by Saudi Arabia or the US and its allies, for instance not to engage in dialogue or to continue with this violent crackdown?

Qureshi: Well, I just want to put things in perspective, I mean these guys who are ruling, this small United Arab Emirates and this Bahrain; they were given these areas in the play they did not fight for it, there were no democratic process or there was no war of independence.

These guys, all of a sudden, in one night, became kings and princes and princesses. So they do not have any experience of statecraft, how to run a state.

Now with greatest respect for all these rulers in this area, that at least you give breathing space to your own people and if these people, I mean your own people whom you want to rule, they want an administrative change then give them administrative change, give them administrative freedom.

Anything which is linked with religion, I am not for that, labeling a regime and a Muslim state for Shiite or Sunny, it could be disastrous. So if there is an administrative reform required in the country, then it should happen.

I mean for example people are supporting [Burmese opposition politician] Aung San Suu Kyi, the Western countries are supporting [her] and for democracy, etc.

But at the same time it is what is happening in Bahrain and if the countries are not supporting the people, especially the Western countries or the United States, then it becomes that the Muslim country rulers have not been able to articulate their case intelligently enough.

That each time they are just like clay pigeons which could be shot at anytime and they have not had their roots with the people and if that trickle-down effect starts from Bahrain then it can go to other areas as well, if solidarity started in Tunisia and Egypt, we have seen that happening but I think that …

Press TV: Mr. Qureshi, do you think then that at some point, however, at the end of the day, these allies will be forced to accept that political reform taking place in Bahrain for instance like we saw in the case of Egypt when the United States was basically facing the situation in the hands of revolutionaries and saying OK we also agree that Hosni Mubarak should step down.

Do you think that is where the Bahraini revolution is headed to?

Qureshi: It is a good question. Can I just put things in perspective? The United States is a big country. If they want to attack Iran or if they had any designs [for attacking] Iran, they are in Afghanistan, they are in Iraq they do not need Bahrain for any kind of strategic reason.

They have already occupied the whole of Iraq. Iraq is under their control, the whole of Afghanistan is under their control and … they have bases in the Central Asian countries, so it is probably the self-importance coming from the Bahraini regime itself that they are saying we are so important to you, the United States! Please look after us or keep us [in power].

The United States is a big country; the United States will go with the people today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. That is the overall policy of the United States.

So it is up to the rulers in the Bahraini and in the Saudi regime to be realistic. If there is an administrative or political reform required, that is what is doing than something which is far more difficult for them to manage.

If they do make any changes, if they have any kinds of fears in their heads that Iranians are going to take over the whole of the region, the Iranians were there for more than five thousand years, they have not taken the whole region and so are the Arabs.

So they need to come out of this Iranian-Arab mindset in the subconscious of the people especially in the ruling classes that Iran is not a threat to them.

And similarly, Saudis are not a threat to the Iranians, so if they have these kinds of phobias or fears in their heads, they need to come out of it, the power at the end of the day is to people.

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