Has the Khalifa family gone mad? Yesterday, the Bahraini royal family started an utterly fraudulent trial of 48 surgeons, doctors, paramedics and nurses, accusing them of trying to topple the tin-pot monarchy of this Sunni minority emirate. The defendants in this flagrantly unfair military court are, of course, members of the majority Shia people of Bahrain. And since I was a witness to their heroic efforts to save lives in February, I can say – let us speak with a frankness that the Bahraini rulers would normally demand – that the charges are a pack of lies.
Doctors I saw, drenched in their patients' blood, desperately trying to staunch the bullet wounds of pro-democracy demonstrators shot in cold blood by Bahraini soldiers and police, are now on trial. I watched armed policemen refusing to allow ambulances to collect the wounded from the roads where they had been cut down.
These are the very same doctors and nurses I stood beside four months ago in the Sulaimaniya emergency room, some of them weeping as they tried to deal with gunshot wounds the like of which they had never seen before.
"How could they do this to these people?" one of them asked me. "We have never dealt with trauma wounds like these before." Next to us lay a man with bullet wounds in the chest and thigh, coughing blood on to the floor.
The surgeons were frightened that they did not have the skills to save these victims of police violence. Now the police have accused the doctors and staff of killing the patients whom the police themselves shot.
How could these fine medical men and women have been trying to "topple" the monarchy?
The idea that these 48 defendants are guilty of such a vicious charge is not just preposterous. It is insane, a total perversion – no, the total opposite – of the truth. The police were firing at demonstrators from helicopters.
The idea that a woman and child died because they were rejected by doctors and refused medical treatment is a fantasy. The only problems medical staff encountered at the Sulaimaniya hospital – and again, I was a witness and, unlike the Bahraini security authorities, I do not tell lies – was from the cruel policemen who blocked patients from reaching the medical facility.
In truth, of course, the Khalifa family is not mad. Nor are the Sunni minority of Bahrain intrinsically bad or sectarian. The reality is clear for anyone to see in Bahrain. The Saudis are now running the country. They never received an invitation to send their own soldiers to support the Bahraini "security forces" from the Bahraini Crown Prince, who is a decent man. They simply invaded and received a post-dated invitation.
The subsequent destruction of ancient Shia mosques in Bahrain was a Saudi project, entirely in line with the kingdom's Taliban-style hatred of all things Shia. Could the Bahraini prime minister be elected, I asked a member of the royal court last February? "The Saudis would not permit this," he replied. Of course not. Because they now control Bahrain. Hence the Saudi-style doctors' trial.
Bahrain is no longer the kingdom of the Khalifas. It has become a Saudi palatinate, a confederated province of Saudi Arabia, a pocket-size weasel state from which all journalists should in future use the dateline: Manama, Occupied Bahrain.