The BBC’s Bill Law shines a spotlight on the systematic crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Bahrain. It’s not to be missed.
An important new article in the Wall Street Journal by PAUL SONNE and STEVE STECKLOW singles out some of the American companies making big bucks off Middle East repression. This time it isn’t the arms dealers, but the tech companies. They report:
"McAfee Inc., acquired last month by Intel Corp., has provided content-filtering software used by Internet-service providers in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, according to interviews with buyers and a regional reseller. Blue Coat Systems Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., has sold hardware and technology in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar that has been used in conjunction with McAfee’s Web-filtering software and sometimes to block websites on its own, according to interviews with people working at or with ISPs in the region.
A regulator in Bahrain, which uses McAfee’s SmartFilter product, says the government is planning to switch soon to technology from U.S.-based Palo Alto Networks Inc. It promises to give Bahrain more blocking options and make it harder for people to circumvent censoring.”
The Bahraini National Guard arrest a man believed to be a journalist as he walked towards Pearl Square in the Bahraini capital Manama on Wednesday, March 16.
Credit: Joseph Eid / AFP - Getty Images
The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said Thursday those taken into custody in the pre-dawn raids include Hassan Mushaima and Abdul Jalil al-Sangaece — who were among 25 Shiite activists on trial on charges of trying to overthrow the nation’s Sunni rulers.
© Andrea Bruce/VII Network/Corbis
IMAGE: © Andrea Bruce/VII Network/Corbis
© Andrea Bruce/VII Network/Corbis
Adam Entous and Julian Barnes of the Wall Street Journal write:
"Instead of pushing for immediate regime change—as it did to varying degrees in Egypt and now Libya—the U.S. is urging protesters from Bahrain to Morocco to work with existing rulers toward what some officials and diplomats are now calling ‘regime alteration.’"
Photo: A fighter for the Libyan rebels prepares for battle Friday against forces loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi, on a day when the two sides waged a fierce battle near Tripoli. Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images
"[Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki is starting to act like Saddam Hussein, to use the same fear, to plant it inside Iraqis who criticize him," said Salam Mohammed al-Segar, a human rights activist who was among those beaten during a sit-in. "The U.S. must feel embarrassed right now - it is they who promised a modern state, a democratic state. But in reality?"
He shook his head.
Propublica’s Marian Wang writes:
"Even as Iraqi security forces detained and abused hundreds of intellectuals and journalists , the U.S. government—in keeping with a pattern of silence on Iraq’s abuses—has withheld criticism of its strategic ally. (Salon noticed this too .)
Asked generally about the violence against Iraqi demonstrators  on Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said only ‘the approach we’ve taken with regard to Iraq is the same that we’ve taken with regard to the region,’ which he said was to call on governments to respond to the protests peacefully. Neither the White House  nor the State Department seem to have mentioned the matter since. Yesterday’s State Department briefing discussed Libya, Egypt, Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China, Pakistan, Argentina, South Africa and Haiti—Iraq was never discussed .”