Society Magazine

Bahrain Escalation

By Seabee
Over the past couple of months there seems to have been a see-sawing power struggle going on at the top in Bahrain.
The hard liners were obviously in control at the beginning of the current protests, when security forces attacked the protestors, killing several and injuring many more.
Then the moderates, led by the crown prince, seemed to take control, riot police were withdrawn and dialogue was discussed.
Tragically the dialogue didn't happen, I suspect in large part because the first attack had hardened opinion and increased the protestors' demands. How different it would have been had dialogue started with the protestors at the beginning instead of the violence against them.
No dialogue led to a stand off. For weeks. That simply couldn't continue and it seems certain it led to the hard liners taking back control.  Then it was inevitable that it would end up where it has today.
The inevitability of a spiral of increasing violence following the first use of violence. As sure as night follows day.
Today reports are building of a major assault on the protestors by troops with armour and helicopters. Currently the reports are saying at least three and possibly five dead and hundreds injured.
A huge leap in the escalation was the introduction of foreign troops, 1,000 from Saudi Arabia. The UAE says it has not sent troops but has sent 500 police. Whatever they are they'll be seen by the protestors as invading forces, even though the Bahraini government invited them in. Who knows what pressure they were under from the Saudis in that decision, incidentally.
Not only the protestors will see them as invaders, that's the view from the bogeyman of the region Iran and probably most Shias.
They have gone in under the GCC alliance clause which says, as do most similar alliances, that an attack on one member state is considered as an attack on all.
It's an interesting question whether the original intention was for that clause to interpret an internal uprising as an attack on the state. The writers had Iran and Iraq in mind I would suggest.
But it's a rhetorical question because of the facts on the ground. They're there.
As  result of the hard line approach I can't see anything other than more violence, more crackdowns, more deaths and injuries, more bitterness, a thicker wedge driven between Shia and Sunni. And the distinct possibility that it will spread geographically.
And if only they'd talked to each other it could have been avoided. What a disaster.

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