News / Middle East

Bahrain Unable to Silence Unrest

Anti-government protesters run from tear gas fired by riot police, as they attempt to get to the village of Diraz, west of Manama, November 9, 2012.
Anti-government protesters run from tear gas fired by riot police, as they attempt to get to the village of Diraz, west of Manama, November 9, 2012.
Phillip Walter Wellman
Continuing anti-government activity in Bahrain has shown that the nation’s unrest is far from over, and some analysts say its most violent days are yet to come.

Bahrain has been grappling with an anti-government backlash for 21 months, and clashes between protesters and security forces have become near-nightly occurrences.

Crime scene markers are seen at a bomb site in capital of Manama, Bahrain, November 5, 2012. Five bombs exploded in the heart of Manama Monday, killing two people, officials said.Crime scene markers are seen at a bomb site in capital of Manama, Bahrain, November 5, 2012. Five bombs exploded in the heart of Manama Monday, killing two people, officials said.
x
Crime scene markers are seen at a bomb site in capital of Manama, Bahrain, November 5, 2012. Five bombs exploded in the heart of Manama Monday, killing two people, officials said.
Crime scene markers are seen at a bomb site in capital of Manama, Bahrain, November 5, 2012. Five bombs exploded in the heart of Manama Monday, killing two people, officials said.
In a move heavily criticized by rights groups, the government banned public gatherings after a policeman was killed during a mid-October protest. Less than a week later, five homemade bombs exploded in the capital Manama, killing two foreign workers and seriously wounding another.
 
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Bahraini authorities linked them to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and said several suspects have been arrested.

While homemade explosives have routinely been used against police by opposition extremists, Michael Stephens, a researcher at RUSI Qatar, said targeting the public is new to the conflict.

"What we’re seeing is a sustained pattern of increasing desperation and violence within the Bahraini community, particularly on the Shi’ite side and that’s coming off the back of a completely stalled and failed reconciliation process," said Stephens.

​Bahrain’s majority Shi’ite Muslims took to the streets in February 2011 demanding more rights and political reform from the Sunni monarchy.

A night view of anti-government demonstrators at Pearl square in Manama, February 22, 2011A night view of anti-government demonstrators at Pearl square in Manama, February 22, 2011
x
A night view of anti-government demonstrators at Pearl square in Manama, February 22, 2011
A night view of anti-government demonstrators at Pearl square in Manama, February 22, 2011
Troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eventually called in to help quell the uprisings and King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa declared a three-month state of emergency in March 2011.

An independent inquiry later confirmed the government was guilty of a number of human rights violations including torture.

Authorities have since made limited reforms, but not enough to pacify the opposition, the majority of which promotes peaceful protesting.
 
According to Stephens, as the stalemate drags on, hardliners are gaining ground. He said, "What you’re going to see, I’m afraid to say, is a worsening of the political situation and I would say that you’ll see some more terrorism as a result of that."

Christian Koch, director of the Gulf Research Center Foundation, said regional concerns have added complexity to the reconciliation process inside Bahrain.

"There is this real fear within the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] states that if one makes too many concessions and allows the Shi’ites to gain real power that ultimately all one is doing is opening a door for Iran into the rest of the region," said Koch.

The Bahraini government has accused Shi’ite powerhouse Iran of orchestrating unrest inside the kingdom. Iran and the opposition reject the claims.

A U.S. Navy handout photo dated February 13, 2012 shows a F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jet launching from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, part of the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet.A U.S. Navy handout photo dated February 13, 2012 shows a F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jet launching from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, part of the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet.
x
A U.S. Navy handout photo dated February 13, 2012 shows a F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jet launching from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, part of the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet.
A U.S. Navy handout photo dated February 13, 2012 shows a F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jet launching from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, part of the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet.
Bahrain’s strategic significance is highlighted by the fact that it is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, a bulwark against Iran and any threats to Gulf oil shipments.

As part of its ongoing crackdown on dissent the government last week revoked the citizenships of 31 activists, a move critics say will likely deepen divisions in the county.

Fiona O’Brian, editor of the Gulf States Newsletter, said it is unlikely Bahrain will be able to solve its crisis alone. She said serious engagement by the international community is needed, and this has been lacking until now.
 
"There has been quite a lot of international criticism of the government, but it has to be said that the criticism hasn’t tended to ever extend beyond the rhetoric," said O'Brian.

Despite expressing concern over the situation in Bahrain, Britain last month signed a defense pact with Manama. In May, the United States agreed to an arms deal with the Bahrainis.

Over the weekend, Bahrain National Guard forces were deployed to different parts of the country to patrol “strategic locations” where anti-government rallies are common.

According to the International Federation for Human Rights, about 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since the anti-government uprising began.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hans from: Bahrain
November 15, 2012 3:36 AM
It is just disgusting to watch how a prior to 2011, peace full country is falling apart.
Moreover as the media had been reporting for a very long time about the peace full protesters of which the majority carried self made weapons all along.
It is a shame that private properties are burned down by peaceful protesters and we find ourselves in the situation that we have to select our neighbours before we select our house.
I wish the Bahraini government would take a bit more of the attitude of its big neighbour and sort out the present situation.


by: Anonymous
November 14, 2012 9:14 AM
Bahrain will eventually get rid of the Khalifa "royalty", maybe, like the Shah of Iran.

In Response

by: JawedButt from: islamabad
November 15, 2012 4:00 AM
why double standards for different countries by American and Europeans? Even their support can't assist Khalifa as he has to go at the end of the game.


by: Duri mohammed from: bahrain
November 14, 2012 2:14 AM
After experiencing a couple of years of unrest, Bahrain politics seems to be heading to sectarian strife rather than demand for reforms of any sort.The demand for social justice and democracy has gone into the thin air.The protest has been excellently hijacked by Iranian cohorts and Hezbullah. What we see now is Hezbollah style terrorism activities, targeting the public and the expatriate community.
Various attempts were made by the government to form a discussion forum to end the conflict through negotiation in which the opposition rejected.Thus whatever, the govt. takes to maintain security is justified.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid