Wednesday, January 18, 2006
US military control of Bahrain
It is huge. It took me about half an hour to walk around. It is right in the middle of Juffair which is about a 2km walk from the Centre of town. It is a huge obstacle for anyone who wants to get past.
After having talked to a Canadian soldier stationed in Dubai on the plane over it seems that western military has a very strong grasp on the Gulf region. I always knew that economicaly but seeing the base gave me a good idea of just how full on the military were here.
Later that evening I ended up wandering around central Manama (as you do) and ended up by total coincidence in an "Aussie/American" bar (actually looked like a restaurant from the outside). It was the first watering hole I had seen since I left Australia. They were very paranoid about security (taking ID and searching bags as you enter).
Interestingly the place was mainly full of US military with a few flight stewards from Gulf Airlines thrown in. So I got chatting with a couple of the military types and they confirmed all the stereotypes of US military. They were the most red neck, pro-bush people. They were still convinced that there was a direct link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda and thought the main problem the US had was Mexicans crossing the border.
But what was scariest was the fact that after we had a few drinks I asked them what their Mission was in Bahrain. They said they didn't know and I don't think they were lying, they just had the we trust our government speech. One of them was even second in command of a Navy boat and they couldn't even provide an official reason why they are hear. The blind (they didn't even try to hide their ignorance) patriotism these soldiers displayed makes you think Trotsky was right about the US being one of the last places a revolution could take place. I know there are smarter soldiers in the US army and there are issues with economic conscription but if this is the US population in Bahrain (and apparently there are Aussies stationed there as well). But no wonder westerners get such a bad rap in some places in the middle east.