A Bahraini blogger speaking at a Netroots Nation panel on the Arab Spring questioned the justification for the crackdown given by Bahrain — at times, backed up the U.S. — that Iran was behind the unarmed protest movement. Lamees Dhaif, a journalist targeted by the government for speaking out, told the audience:
Iran turned into a phobia. For 30 years they’ve been terrifying us and terrifying the world– Iran is going to take on Gulf countries. But Iran is a loud country, they talk a lot. For 30 years, I haven’t seen them do anything. But on the ground, what did they actually do? And they are taken as an excuse to make us pay more for armies, for not having equal rights.
She added while she hadn’t seen Iran’s presence, she did see foreign soldiers open fire on unarmed demonstrators, referring to the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) forces that moved into Bahrain to aide the crackdown:
I don’t see Iran coming to Bahrain, I see five armies firing on people, who don’t even have water guns. I don’t know if that happened in any other country.
Dhaif lamented the tepid U.S. reaction to the crackdown, which continues to simmer. Though the Obama administration began putting pressure on Bahrain for human rights abuses, it remains to be seen if reforms announced by the Gulf Shiekdom will be implemented. Another uncertainty lies in whether Bahrain and the Saudi-led GCC will abandon what analyst and Tufts University professor Vali Nasr recently called their strategy of “shift(ing) the focus from democracy to the bogeyman, Iran.”