Bahrain Heads for Disaster

From Elliott Abrams.

Bahrain has a Shia majority (once estimated at 70 percent, but probably lower than that now due to a campaign of naturalization of foreign-born Sunnis, especially those who serve in the army and police). The current actions against the Shia community will embitter all its members and decapitate its moderate political, economic, religious, and moral leadership. Future compromises will be far more difficult, and are perhaps already impossible.

Why has the King taken this disastrous path? Clearly he has been urged and pressured to do so by his Sunni neighbors in the UAE and especially Saudi Arabia. The contempt for Shia and Shiism in Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly a key factor here, and the Saudis were concerned that an uprising by Bahraini Shia could spread across to the Shia in their own oil-rich Eastern Province. But the actions being taken in Bahrain now make it far more likely that this will be the outcome: Saudi Shia who see the Saudi government repressing Shia in Bahrain will become more, not less, embittered toward their own government. The Saudis also worried about opportunities for Iran to meddle in Bahrain and ultimately in Saudi Arabia itself. But here again, the policy being followed will only create new chances for Iran by assuring enmity and political volatility in Bahrain.

So the path being followed is disastrous. Perhaps it is not too late for outside figures to try to open a dialogue between the Government of Bahrain and the Shia community, but for that to work the King and the royal family must stop the persecution of the Shia leadership. As of now, they seem intent on crushing the Shia and eliminating all hope of a constitutional monarchy where the majority of Bahrain’s people share with the King a role in building the country’s future. If the King does not change course, he is guaranteeing a future of instability for Bahrain and may be dooming any chance that his son the Crown Prince will ever sit on the throne.

Yep. Bet the Iranians can’t believe their luck. They have such fools for enemies.