Bahrain: a microcosm that typifies the intensifying dilemma of the Arab regimes

May 31, 2012 10:27 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Bahrain’s political struggle, despite a desperate degree of reconciliation by the Al-khalifa family, has only intensified and retreated back underground. The Bahrainis’ struggle truly encapsulates the lingering dilemma which faces not only the academics and people of Bahrain, but is also endured by academics and populations in most of the surrounding countries. Without a sustainable level of fundamental socio-political development and economic parity, where all citizens are empowered, no amount of money, modern educational reforms, or technology can truly create self-reliance in these societies. However, the proliferation of Bahrain’s impasse is deeply rooted in its apartheid-like policies.

Amnesty International reports that since February 2011, well over 50 people, almost all Shiites, have been killed in Bahrain and thousands have been imprisoned, tortured, summarily tried in military tribunals and convicted, becoming political prisoners. Saudi Arabian Special Forces entered, via the Fahd Causeway, into the small Emirate in order to quench dissent in Bahrain; nonetheless, their effort only bolstered the protesters’ resolve. A so-called “Fact Finding Report” commissioned by the self-proclaimed king, and perceived by international observers as pro forma, was watered down and then thrown into the bin of oblivion. Though the al-Khalifa ruling family hastily cancelled their luxurious PR driven Formula One sponsored Grand Prix last year, they reinstated it last week against all advice and in the dire hope of dodging the domestic revolution and portraying the island as safe and secure.

The archipelago of Bahrain (less than 300 square miles and half the size of Oahu, Hawaii) consists of one main and thirty two smaller islands, located at the southern shores of the Persian Gulf next to the Arabian Peninsula.

This archipelago was considered by Iran to be its fourteenth province until independence was declared following a referendum in 1971. Bahrain then became an emirate and was declared a kingdom in 2002. In response to protests by the Shah of Iran in 1971, the British had recognised the sovereignty of three islands in the Persian Gulf, namely, Abu Musa, and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, to Iran, as a symbolic consolation prize.

Bahrain’s population of around 666,000 is comprised of 75% Muslim Shiites of Iranian ancestry and 25% Sunnis, such as the Al-Khalifa clan, who migrated from the Najd and Hijaz regions of Saudi Arabia in the 19th century. An additional 500,000 migrant workers and their children also reside in Bahrain. The majority of the country’s wealth is in the hands of the prosperous Sunnis, while the majority Shiites and the migrant workers only hold 5% and 0.5% of the national wealth, respectively. As pointed out by many experts, the waste of non-renewable natural and human resources in the region will continue, unless the true aspirations for freedom, equality, and justice yearned by all people lead to a transformative and transparent system of democratic government in Bahrain, as well as in other countries in Southwest Asia and North Africa. A new era of peaceful tranquillity and cooperation will then be ushered in for this region.


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This post was written by David Rahni

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