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The Bahrain Revolt via Int'l Crisis Group

The Bahrain Revolt via Int'l Crisis Group

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Published by Bahrain_Politics
For anyone trying to understand the historical political situation in Bahrain and its ramifications in the unfolding of the "Pearl Square Revolt" on the 14th of February, 2011.
For anyone trying to understand the historical political situation in Bahrain and its ramifications in the unfolding of the "Pearl Square Revolt" on the 14th of February, 2011.

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Published by: Bahrain_Politics on Apr 15, 2011
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01/10/2014

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POPULAR PROTESTS IN NORTH AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST (III):THE BAHRAIN REVOLT
Middle East/North Africa Report N°105 – 6 April 2011 
 
 
TABLE OF CONTENTSEXECUTIVE SUMMARY ...................................................................................................... iI.
 
INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................. 1
 
II.
 
POLITICAL TENSIONS AND MOBILISATION – SOURCES OF GRIEVANCE . 2
 
A.
 
P
OLITICAL
S
TALEMATE
................................................................................................................ 3
 
B.
 
S
ECTARIAN
D
ISCRIMINATION
....................................................................................................... 4
 
C.
 
E
CONOMIC
C
OMPLAINTS
 .............................................................................................................. 5
 
III.
 
THE PEARL SQUARE REVOLT................................................................................... 6
 
IV.
 
THE SHIITES’ RELATIONSHIP WITH IRAN ........................................................... 9
 
V.
 
SUNNI ISLAMIST GROUPS (PRO-REGIME) .......................................................... 12
 
A.
 
T
HE
I
SLAMIC
 N
ATIONAL
F
ORUM
(A
L
-M
INBAR AL
-W
ATANI AL
-I
SLAMI
) .................................... 12
 
B.
 
T
HE
I
SLAMIC
A
UTHENTICITY
S
OCIETY
(J
AMIAEEYAT AL
-A
SALA AL
-I
SLAMIYA
) ........................ 13
 
VI.
 
THE LEGAL POLITICAL OPPOSITION .................................................................. 14
 
A.
 
A
L
-W
IFAQ
:
 
A
 
P
AN
-S
HIITE
P
OLITICAL
G
ROUPING
...................................................................... 14
 
B.
 
T
HE
S
HIRAZIS
(A
L
-S
HIRAZIYOUN
) ............................................................................................. 15
 
C.
 
 N
ATIONAL
B
ROTHERHOOD
S
OCIETY
(J
AMIAEEYAT AL
-I
KHAA AL
-W
ATANI
) .............................. 16
 
D.
 
L
EFTIST
G
ROUPS
........................................................................................................................ 16
 
1.
 
The Promise (Al-Wa’ad) ............................................................................................................ 16
 
2.
 
Al-Minbar Democratic Progressive Society .............................................................................. 17
 
3.
 
The Nationalist Democratic Gathering ...................................................................................... 17
 
VII.
 
UNLICENSED SHIITE ISLAMIST OPPOSITION GROUPS ............................... 18
 
A.
 
A
L
-H
AQ
M
OVEMENT FOR 
L
IBERTIES AND
D
EMOCRACY
............................................................ 18
 
B.
 
A
L
-W
AFAA
(L
OYALTY
)
 
I
SLAMIC
T
REND
................................................................................... 19
 
VIII.
 
YOUTH GROUPS ........................................................................................................ 20
 
IX.
 
CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................ 21
 
APPENDICES
A.
 
M
AP OF
B
AHRAIN
............................................................................................................................ 24
B.
 
A
BOUT THE
I
 NTERNATIONAL
C
RISIS
G
ROUP
.................................................................................... 25
C.
 
C
RISIS
G
ROUP
EPORTS AND
B
RIEFINGS ON THE
M
IDDLE
E
AST AND
 N
ORTH
A
FRICA SINCE
2008 ... 26
D.
 
C
RISIS
G
ROUP
B
OARD OF
T
RUSTEES
................................................................................................ 27
 
 
Middle East/North Africa Report N°105 6 April 2011 
POPULAR PROTESTS IN NORTH AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST (III):THE BAHRAIN REVOLTEXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Manama’s crackdown and Saudi Arabia’s military inter-vention are dangerous moves that could stamp out hopesfor peaceful transition in Bahrain and turn a mass move-ment for democratic reform into an armed conflict, whileregionalising an internal political struggle. They couldalso exacerbate sectarian tensions not only in Bahrain or the Gulf but across the region. Along with other member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), SaudiArabia purportedly is responding to dual fears: that the popular uprising could lead to a Shiite takeover, and aShiite takeover would be tantamount to an Iranian one.Both are largely unfounded. It also is concerned protestsmight inspire similar movements among its own EasternProvince Shiites, oblivious that its involvement is likelieto provoke than deter them. Bahrain’s brutal crackdownand Saudi interference fan flames both want to extin-guish. The most effective response to the radical regimechange threat or greater Iranian influence is not violent sup- pression of peaceful protests but political reform. Time isrunning short and trends are in the wrong direction.The small island kingdom has long been a place of popular ferment, owing in part to its relatively open society – relative, that is, to the low standards set by its immediateneighbours – and in part to the disenfranchisement of itsmajority-Shiite population by a Sunni monarchy. Intermit-tent uprisings have resulted in scant progress in broadeningthe political arena; instead the regime has been accused of importing adherents of Sunni Islam from other regionalstates, including non-Arab states such as Pakistan, inductingthem into the security forces and offering an undeterminednumber among them Bahraini citizenship. To the extentthat such a policy is in place, the predominantly Shiiteopposition has rightfully denounced demographic manipu-lation that is clearly aimed at perpetuating an unequal state of affairs.Taking their cue from protesters in Tunisia and Egypt,young Bahrainis fed up with politics as usual took to thestreets on 14 February and, following a week of skirmisheswith security forces, occupied Pearl Square, the heart of thecapital. Over the next three weeks their activism was joined by opposition groups, both legal – in the sense of holding anofficial license to operate – and illegal. Over time, thismedley of opposition groups, emergent political movementsand unaffiliated youths extended their control of the streetsin both Manama and other towns and villages and developeda set of demands that ranged from political and constitutionalreform to outright regime removal. Their protest has beenlargely non-violent.The regime initially answered the protests with force,opening fire at demonstrators in Pearl Square and allowing pro-regime thugs to attack them. Responding to pressure,notably from the U.S., it subsequently allowed peaceful protest to take place. A three-week period of behind-the-scenes discussions and continued demonstrations relativelyfree of violence failed to yield meaningful steps towardchange. U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates, visitingManama on 12 March, criticised the regime for its “babysteps” toward reform.This apparent stalemate, coupled with increasingly pro-vocative protester tactics and Riyadh’s view that protectingthe regime was a red line, likely triggered the interventionof Bahrain’s partners. On 14 March, invoking
 
a GCCsecurity agreement, an estimated 1,000 Saudi troops crossedthe causeway from the Saudi mainland, accompanied bysome 500 United Arab Emirates police and some Qataritroops. The next day, dozens of tanks and over 100 armytrucks, as well as armoured personnel carriers, also rumbledinto Bahrain. Most disappeared into barracks, invisible toBahraini citizens. But the warning was clear: desist or bemade to desist. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa accompa-nied this show of force with the announcement of a three-month “state of national safety”, including a partial curfew,a ban on rallies and broad powers for the military. In con-tinued protests that day and next, Bahraini security forcesand pro-regime thugs armed with swords and clubs attackeddemonstrators throughout the kingdom, killing seven inthe first three days and injuring many more. Since then,opposition leaders have been jailed.

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