The official signing, in Washington, of the “Abraham Accords” deal set up for Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to officially normalise ties with Israel, has sparked outrage and protest from the people of Bahrain which has been almost completely ignored by Western Media.
Every day since the signing of the controversial normalisation deal, allegedly brokered by the US Trump administration, protests in the streets of the Bahraini capital Manama, as well as in other cities, have been continuous. The protests have led to arrests, as well as alleged investigations into organisers.
Whilst the world was presented with images of cooperation and unity, the streets of Bahrain were packed with protesters opposed to the move, standing behind the Palestinian cause for liberation. The protests, as well as an escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel on the night the deal was signed, point to the stark difference between what has been presented as a deal for peace and the mayhem actually caused as a direct result of the move.
In Bahrain, protests, like those that are ongoing, are not tolerated by the Monarchistic regime which has refused to reform following the Bahraini revolution, which began in 2011. Speaking to Quds News, the director of the political Bureau for the ‘February 14 Coalition’, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Aradi, stated that “The Bahraini opposition will not stop protesting for the Palestinian people and will continue to demonstrate, to raise our voices inside and outside of Bahrain…we will not stop making conferences to show the world that our people are against normalisation”.
Dr. Al-Aradi also commented on why the Al-Khalifa regime is seemingly being more lenient than usual, holding back from violently confronting the demonstrators in the nature that it usually has. The explanation he offered was that in order to show Britain and the United States that they can be pragmatic, they have sat back in the immediate aftermath of the deal in the hope of quelling an uprising. He also said that “the demonstrations have been ongoing since the 14th of February 2011… thousands are now in jail, hundreds exiled abroad, thousands have lost their citizenships”, going on to say that “the International community has to support them, because like what the Palestinians receive from the Israelis, we too are under occupation.”.
When asked about the perspective of the Bahraini population on what has been branded as the ‘Abraham Accords’, Dr, Al-Aradi said; “the majority of the Bahraini people are against normalisation, even the journalists that have shared platforms with Israelis have been forced to do this and they do not represent anyone but the regime.”. Addressing those who haven’t spoken out or attended demonstrations, the Bahraini opposition group official offered the following explanation; “Many have been threatened by the regime, with possible arrest, or perhaps the prospect of losing their citizenship… many who can’t risk protesting on the streets are doing so on social media.”.
Also in response to the normalisation deal, 143 Bahraini scholars, as well as 17 associations, have signed onto a letter condemning the move and reaffirming their solidarity with the Palestinian people and cause. The letter reads according to al-Quds al-Arabi; “We reiterate the firm principles of the Bahraini people regarding the Palestine issue and the texts of the Bahraini constitution, according to which the normalization of relations with the Zionist regime is considered as a crime. They added: “The agreement to normalize Bahrain’s relations with Israel not only does not reflect the will of the Bahraini people, but also contradicts the Bahraini constitution and its first article.”.
It is widely speculated amongst analysts that the real target for a potential normalisation deal, by the Trump administration, is Saudi Arabia. Which would perhaps indicate, if this is the case, that both UAE and Bahrain normalisation of ties with Israel is a form of testing the reaction to the move. If this is to be the case, then the building anti-regime protest movement in Bahrain could potentially slow down or even put a halt to Saudi normalisation with Israel.
If Saudi Arabia sees the Bahraini regime struggling with widespread civil unrest in Bahrain and the loss of revenue streams to the UAE, then it may reconsider the notion of normalisation.