The leaders of Bahrain, Yemen, and Oman are not known for tempered responses to dissent. The use of lethal force against peaceful protestors, holding activists without charge, and reports of torture have characterized government responses to uprisings in all three states. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these countries also share a military heritage; the reigning rulers of Bahrain, Yemen, and Oman (as well as Jordan) all trained at Britain’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
A quick Google search for King Hamad of Bahrain returns a limitless cache of portraits of the uniform-clad monarch; when not sporting the traditional Bahraini thobe, the king often dresses in the trappings of a British royal officer. Habiba Hamid, former policy strategist to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, explains:
Pomp, ceremony, displays of military might, shock and awe – they all originate from the British military relationship.
If Sandhurst’s alumni directory is any indication, so do iron-fist rule and military crackdowns on civilians. In many ways, Sandhurst is the contemporary continuation of British colonial power in the Gulf. In a new report, Matthew Teller explores the influence of Sandhurst on recent crackdowns across the Middle East, and questions the United Kingdom’s continued military support (from funding to weaponry) for ruling families renowned for brutal crackdowns on dissent.