Juan Cole | Informed Comment »
…The US government has been relatively low-key in condemning Bahrain human rights violations. The government leases the US a naval base at Manama as the HQ of the Fifth Fleet, which provides security to Gulf oil exports (some 20% of the world’s total). Also, Washington worries about expansion of Iranian influence, and the Sunni monarchy’s claims that the Shiite protesters have Iran links may give the Obama administration pause. Finally, the Saudi government is a hawk on the Bahrain crackdown, and is influential with the US.
The regime’s heavy-handed tactics may have pushed some Bahrain Shiites toward radicalism. Last week, the Bahrain government announced that Kuwait had helped it crack a budding terrorist cell, with links to Lebanon’s Hizbullah and to Iraq and Iran. Most Bahrain Shiites are peaceful and the majority belongs to the Akhbari school of jurisprudence that rejects the authority of ayatollahs, so the regime’s attempt to tag all Shiites (some 60% of the population) with the radicalism of a few is pure propaganda. >continue<