Let’s look at how things are going in Yemen and Bahrain:
Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of gulf countries conducting airstrikes against the Iranian-backed Houthis. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, whose country chairs the GCC, said relations with Iran will be chilly until the country ends its interventionist policies.
“We stressed that if Iran wants to have normal relations with the GCC states, it has to change its policies and abide by the good-neighborhood principle,” he said.
Wait, Saudi Arabia is directly involved in Yemen but it’s Iran who needs to end its interventionist policies? Has Iran done this?
A Saudi-led coalition battling Shiite rebels and their allies in Yemen used U.S.-supplied bombs in an airstrike last month on a market that killed at least 119 people, a human rights group said Thursday, further highlighting American involvement in the conflict.
The March 15 bombing targeting the northwestern town of Mastaba marked the second-deadliest airstrike of the year-long Saudi-helmed campaign — and the results were horrific. Survivors said the outdoor market, next to a shantytown inhabited largely by people who fled there from other battle zones, was obliterated by double strikes that came about 10 minutes apart, with mangled bodies thrown hundreds of yards away.
And has Iran allowed this?
Al-Qaeda has made major financial gains as a result of the war in Yemen, running its own mini-state and pocketing $100 million in looted bank deposits and revenue from running the country’s largest port, a Reuters investigation has revealed.
The group’s deep pockets and increased power are down to the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, which has reportedly helped it become stronger than at any time since its emergence almost 20 years ago.
Iran has been sending weapons to Yemen, but given the above this statement by John Kerry sounds more than a little hypocritical:
“If Iran is going to give meaning to the words in the last few days about wanting to work with people, it is by getting engaged in making peace in Yemen, not adding more weapons and fueling the conflict,” Kerry said.
And he’s worse when talking about Bahrain:
Referring to Bahrain earlier in the day, Kerry criticized the Bahraini opposition, saying its boycott of a 2014 election had a “polarizing” effect.
Kerry, appearing with Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, praised reforms Bahrain has made to open its political system but said more steps were needed to counter violent extremism. He suggested that the opposition had played a role in preventing more reforms.
“Regrettably, I think a great mistake was made when the opposition chose to boycott an election,” said Kerry, the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Bahrain since a government crackdown that followed protests in 2011 by Bahrain’s majority Shiite Muslims. “I think that polarizes things rather than helps them.”
Standing beside the foreign minister, Kerry hailed Bahrain as a “critical security partner” of the United States and said security was the foundation of the relationship between the countries.
“At the end, our relation with Bahrain is built on common interests that we share, and one of those interests is joint efforts to combat violent extremism,” Kerry said. “We believe that broadening rights and opportunities, bringing people together in the political process, is one of the ways to counter it.”
Let’s look at the Freedom House’s ratings for Bahrain:
Bahrain’s political rights rating declined from 6 to 7 due to grave flaws in the 2014 legislative elections and the government’s unwillingness to address long-standing grievances among the majority Shiite community about the drawing of electoral districts and the possibility of fair representation.
Their conclusion: Not Free.
But Freedom House breaks things down further (the scores are out of 100 where 0 is the best, 100 the worst):
If you look at the aggregate score of Bahrain, you find they have a score of 14 (in this case, higher is better)–only 16 regions have worse scores (out of 211 entries; they are 12th worst when you only count countries–the rankings include places like Tibet and Crimea which are disputed regions in a country).
So, Bahrain is a pretty bad country that John Kerry should not be praising. Oh, and Saudi Arabia is even worse (the 10th worst country; Iran is slightly better at 20th worst).