The arrival of Peninsula Shield Force (PSF) troops in Bahrain has caused a regional controversy, particularly between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The latter sent more than 1500 soldiers to back up the Bahraini regime. Saudi Arabia insists that the presence of these forces is a natural result of the mutual defense treaty signed between the countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), while Iran see the situatin as an invasion of Bahrain and said it would not stand idle while this goes on. Iran has already filed a complaint to the United Nations.
The Bahraini Prime Minister – Khalifah ibn Sulman al-Khalifah, the uncle of the Bahraini King – said yesterday that Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s troops will not leave Bahrain, but are there to protect the kingdom aganst an external threat – presumably Iran.
The main problem in Bahrain is not the presence of PSF troops, but real reason the troops are there in the first place – that is, the demonstrations and internal tensions caused by the absence of reforms in the country. Bahrain’s uprising has been simmering for more than two months with protestors demanding constitutional change, equal employment opportunities, a clamp-down on corruption, and an end to sectarian discrimination. It will be remembered that the Bahraini security forces ended the occupation of Pearl Square by force, killing a large number of demonstrators and detaining many more.
Contradictory messages are coming from the regime with the Prime Minister asserting that the protests are an attempted coup d’etat while the Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa had held talks with the protesters and has acknowledged the legitimacy of their demands.
Bahrain does not require a foreign invasion to sort its present problems out. Political reform is possible and the regime could survive the present protests if it produces a frameworks for peace.
Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain is a big mistake and is not justified. The citizens of Bahrain are Arabs, and their protection must be an Arab responsibility. The Bahraini government has exercised repression against its citizens in the most bloody way, killing protesters as they slept in Pearl Square, and has placed additonal strain on internal affairs by aggravating the sunni-sh’ia sectarian divide in this small kingdom.
The Bahraini monarch promised to return to negotiations with the protesters and their representatives as soon as calm is restored in the Kingdom; calm – imposed by repression – has prevailed for more than a month; yet we did not see any resumption of dialogue, but more arrests in the ranks of the opposition. It is regrettable that the Western countries, the United States in particular, have failed to condemn the arrival of PSF troops in Bahrain due to Saudi pressure. When neighbouring Gulf states sent troops to Bahrain in March Mrs. Hillary Clinton condemned the move as being ‘on the wrong track’. Now however the west is largely silent even though repression is reaching barbaric new heights.
The resolution of the Bahraini crisis lies firmly in the hands of the authorities, yet there is no indication that it is determined to take serious steps to provide a framework for dialogue and reform. It is equally essential that all Bahraini citizens are treated equally and that the present spate of sectarian attacks by Saudi forces on Shi’a shrined be condemned in the most explicit fashion. The Bahraini protestors have been very careful to highlight the non-sectarian nature of their movement and their unity as citizens with just claims to dignity, equality and justice.
If sectarian tensions are allowed to escalate in Bahrain it creates the spectre of a widening regional conflict and threats to the security and stability of the whole GCC area.
- Anti Islam Bahraini Govt razed 28 Mosques and 50 Imambargahs (jafrianews.com)
- Bahraini rulers play sectarian card in bid to trump pro-democracy movement By Finian Cunningham (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Bahrain says Gulf Troops Stay until Iranian Threat is Gone (waronterrornews.typepad.com)
- Bahrain escapes censure by West as crackdown on protesters intensifies (independent.co.uk)
- Bahrain escapes censure by West as crackdown on protesters intensifies – The Independent (news.google.com)
- Why Saudi Arabia Should Be Worried About Iran’s Next Move (businessinsider.com)
- US group condemns Bahrain campaign against doctors (foxnews.com)
- “My comment on a skewed and misleading analysis of the Saudi role in Bahrain” and related posts (bostonuniversity.blogspot.com)
- US group condemns Bahrain campaign against doctors (sfgate.com)
- Bahrain accused of systematic attacks on doctors (guardian.co.uk)