- Category: Studies
30 Mar 2013
- Written by BCSL Admin
The dual Saudi-Emirate intervention in Bahrain, under the cover of the Peninsula Shield, since mid-March 2011, has caused a real shock in the Gulf and in the region and perhaps has cemented convictions and fallen others. The questions are still continued addressing the causes and consequences of this unprecedented action post the independence era of Gulf "sheikhdoms".
Here what is believed to a number of issues highlighted as a result of this military presence, which is now entering its third year.
1-The fall of the Bahraini regime
The entry of Saudi & UAE military troops to Manama, in broad daylight, on the 14th of March 2011, had given a clear indication that the Bahraini regime has fallen, from the political point in one way or another, and has no longer able to cope with the thousands who gathered at the Pearl Roundabout, chanting "the people want to bring down the regime", and "Down Hamad," the king of Bahrain since 1999.
From different perspectives, the marching of more than half of the people in the squares and streets, for nearly a month, demanding change of the structure of the existing regime, can only be considered as the biggest 'scratching' in the legitimacy of the regime, and greater than a setback to the ruling royal family, and perhaps not exaggeration to say that the ongoing rallies had withdrawn the popular side and the main pillars of the regime's legitimacy.
The ruling regime is based now on the legitimacy of absolute power, having committed one of the biggest historic mistakes, while rise above on the demotic legitimacy, and daring to cancel the 1973 constitution in February 2002, i.e. about ten years ago prior to the start of Bahraini spring (14 February 2011).
On the other hand, the arrival of Saudi military tanks to Manama does not only mean that Al Khalifa regime in Bahrain is unable, from military point view, this time to use its soldiers in order to curb the massive protests, which started a month before the Saudi intervention.
The sense that something happened, and it was the revolution of February 14, 2011 and its aftermath, the security and Bahraini army has become cuffed and ineffective, after they exhausted their excessive and immoral power on February 16, 2011, when the army demolished the protesters in the Pearl Roundabout, which led to many death and hundreds of wounded, followed by unexpected rise in the protest movement.
The military force had relatively been restricted, between mid February and March 2011, and was subsequently enacted, following extended moral and political ammunition after Saudi intervention, in the form of the Peninsula Shield forces, which their guns supposed to be intended for external aggressor.
The continued GCC military intervention, ultimately aims to protect Al Khalifa regime from falling, through the formation of political and military cover to suppress the demonstrators, and to participate in this repression, whenever the need arise. Perhaps the best that describe it is the international news agencies, which said explicitly that the GCC intervention came to support the ruling family in front of an unprecedented flood of popular, a model that derived from the revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt.
2-'Drowning' in the security solution
The Saudi military intervention decided on regime' options in Bahrain. It is completely bounded, and continued, towards military approach (or what might be called the Saudi approach) without hesitation or slowdown.
During February and March 2011, important talks were held between the opposition political societies and the Crown Prince of Bahrain Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa. It was interesting that the seven points announced by the Crown Prince were a few hours before Saudi intervention, included important features to some foundations of constitutional monarchies, such as the elected government, and the elected parliament with full powers. It was prudent to point out that the former official senior State Department Jeffrey Feltman, had expressed his support for the process of dialogue and the positive initiative of the Crown Prince. Saudi intervention, however, buried the political solution, and caused deep depressions in the structure of the national situation, and inflicted horrific abuses in human rights record, some were recorded in the famous BICI report (so called Bassiouni Report).
The Saudi approach has plunged the country into excruciating, it does not seem easy to get out of it. Many had wished if Saudi Arabia intervened in Bahrain, similar to Gulf intervention in Sana’a. It’s true that they distorted the Yemeni revolution, but they have encouraged dialogue, instead of blood shedding, which is commendable point, the opposite of what they did in Syria.
3-Degradation of the honor of the military establishment in Bahrain
The increase of the Saudi military intervention in Bahrain has raised the importance of the question about the role of the Bahraini military official of the spring of Feb 14.
The question about the position of the armies and security and intelligence agencies, and their overall role in public life, has put firmly in the other countries of the Arab Spring: Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Libya. The assumption that deserves to be focused on is that the positions of the military establishment seem decisive in the course of revolutions. In the countries that the military sided with the revolution as in Tunisia and Cairo, the matter ended up quickly to the fall of the head of state, while in Yemen, whereby the army split between ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh and the rebels, a ‘foggy’ participatory formula has been reached, and a transition that might not ended! All of this sheds more light on the military establishment in Bahrain, and its composition, ideology, whether it is with or against or neutral about the demand for democratic transformation in Manama, and why.
It turns out that the Bahraini army, and security forces of the Ministry of Interior, composed of elements of the mercenaries from Pakistan, Yemen, Syria and Jordan in addition to Westerners and Arabs security experts, and that Bahrain's Shiites, who make up the majority of the population, are not represented in the military, and that the doctrine established for this institution is to defend Al Khalifa governance, and in case of referring to defend the honor of the nation, it is the term identifies and refers to the ruling Al Khalifa clan.
The army and the general military establishment in Bahrain are involved in abuses against pro-democracy, therefore, of the most important recommendations of the BICI report (Bassiouni report) is the restructuring of the military, but that apparently is not on the agenda of the ruling family and its regional supporters, who believes in the option of using force, and considers the dialogue tool is just a tool to assist in that direction.
After the Saudi military intervention, the military establishment lost a large part of its honor, once because it needed a bond from abroad to kill citizens, and before that the establishment itself killed citizens which was documented, but originally was found to be popularly frowned and there is no national consensus as long as it is based on composition of strange mercenaries.
4-Emergence of internationalization problem and geopolitics node
This title has emerged clearly after the entry of Gulf military convoys in Manama, carrying signals victory! In fact the official Bahraini talk about the rejection of interference by outsiders seem to be like a shallow cliché as long as the Saudi army is on the ground of Bahrain, which opens doors for other interventions, most notably the Iranian sound, who has been supportive of the Bahrain revolution, but it also has shown carefulness in going beyond media and political support.
The positions of the west and east have indicated that the Bahraini event has become a non-local dimensions. However, it is clearly noticed that the revolution of Bahrain was the only one that was not discussed at the United Nations, which traded other Arab revolutions, and still. This, however, has not hid the issue of the internationalization of the Bahraini revolution, and perhaps has bonded the nature of the existing alliances that operate against the demands of the rebelling and their right to elect their government and its Board of Deputies.
However, 44 countries condemned Bahrain in the Human Rights Council in early March 2013, while only 27 countries had condemned Manama in May 2012 because of its failure to implement the recommendations of the Bassiouni report. This reflects that confidence in the promises of the Bahraini authorities are almost nonexistent internationally, despite that the international consensus supports the existing dictatorship.
Likely that the issue of internationalization and node Gulf and rational geopolitics are not operated against the authorities to the extent that aspire those who are eager for democracy in Bahrain and in the region.
Even the equation of Iran/Iraq and the eastern region in Saudi Arabia, which are areas indeed perceived as supportive for the revolutionaries of Bahrain, is being exploited, regionally and internationally that hurts the revolution of Bahrain and aiming to blockade it, for reasons that are related to what is said about securing oil supplies and the protection of Israel and encircling Iran, under a western pre-premise that a democratic transition in Bahrain may be in Iran's favor, as the Iraqi experience shows.
This is continued even that Bassiouni report has denied an Iranian involvement in Bahrain, and has emphasized on its internal nature. Not also to forget the remarks and reports from western countries – as well as Wiki Leaks – that confirm that the crisis in Bahrain is a result of Al Khalifa monopoly of political and national wealth resolution, and that there is no ‘hand’ of Iran in all Bahraini popular uprisings that have been extended for decades.
However, Bahraini revolution still paying blood, tears and discrimination and the violations continue for reasons that given the regional and internationalization direction proceed in a counter-revolution to the rights of the people to decide for themselves the pattern of their rule.
5-Embarrassing the Arab Spring
It is difficult to find a fundamental difference of Bahrain's democratic demand between the position of the Egyptian regime and Al-Azhar during Hosni Mubarak period, and the position of the new Egyptian regime, as it is also difficult to find a meaningful difference between the position of Tunisia before and after the its revolution.
Thus, while the Arab peoples hope that the new regimes created after the revolutions would reflect their say towards other revolutions, they seem to only be concerned with pleasing the dictators as was the case before the Arab Spring. I there a bigger failure that harms the credibility of these new regimes than that: to do the opposite of what they used to say!
If you look deeper, it seems surprising, for example, not to find a difference between the position of the ruling Fatah movement in the West Bank, and between the ruling Hamas in Gaza, and perhaps Hamas attack on Iran and Hezbollah is overwhelming in that, while the Palestinian National Authority does not seem concerned so much about what's being said of Iran's support for Bahrain activists, or at least not too or overly framed as do close to Hamas.
Whereas position of The Arab League is unchanged from three decades, and when reviewing its reports and statements during the Bahraini uprising in the nineties, and its current statements you hardly find any changes i.e. condemning what it so called popular terrorism, and external support for mobility, which is a position that is clearly against the people of Bahrain and their fair demands.
6-Abuse to the ‘Gulf Union’ proposal
The ‘Gulf Union’ has been put forward at the peak of the repression in Manama, backed officially by the Gulf countries. The union seemed timely as a harsh wave in response to the demand of democracy spreading by the Arab Spring, which encouraged people in the Gulf to show their eagerness for democracy, in Kuwait, Oman, and also in the UAE and Qatar, and without a doubt in Saudi Arabia.
No one from the peoples of the Gulf, in general, opposed to strengthening GCC relations, towards reaching federal patterns, and perhaps the people are more enthusiastic for this union, which is not supportive by the regimens and possibly opposing it. Thus, it is not surprising to know that the talk about the GCC union has almost stopped with the mistaken belief that the security situation is under control in Bahrain.
A great disservice was done to the Gulf union proposal after the Gulf soldiers were accused of killing other people from the Gulf simply for expressing their opinions; as if the Gulf authorities say clearly, and in full mouth, that the option of a ‘security union’ is on the table if the public pressure from the people in the Gulf increases on the ruling authorities.
However, the Bahraini situation looks interesting, in terms of two things: an undisciplined official rush toward what might be called the handover of Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, added to another serious matter, which is the naturalization of foreigners and mercenaries that prejudices the configuration of the Shiite-majority population.
It is true that the dictatorship gives, voluntarily, its decision to others, which Al Khalifa used to do, but it is not usual for the dictatorship to ‘give out’ the entire country to others, whatever its proximity to Arabism and Islam.
These (selling the land and naturalization) appear to be two anomalous types by the dictatorships against their people and their homelands.
In the end, it seemed that the Gulf Union proposal as a warning to all people in the Gulf that are dreaming of democracy. The options: either existing dictatorship or a security union against the people.
7-Gulf Interests are obstacles for the change in Bahrain
The Gulf intervention in Bahrain has showed that the regional situation has a significant impact on the nature of governance in Bahrain, and that the mass internal movement may not be able to change the status quo as happened in Tunisia, for example, without taking into account the interests of the ruling families in the Gulf.
The Gulf has supported Bahrain via military troops and materiel, and politically at all levels, and economically with ten billion dollars, and perhaps the concerns are valid, that the ‘Gulf Marshal’ support is a substitute for the political and economic reform.
The regional dimension, the Gulf in particular, seems to be overwhelming in the Bahraini political path and its future. So, it seems wrong to believe that the revolution of Bahrain is facing Al Khalifa, it faces all the ruling families in the Gulf, thinking of these families that the ‘infection of freedoms’ from a democratic Bahrain may be transferred to its gulf neighboring countries, and may also be a platform to support democracy in this conservative neighborhood.
8-The truth of Saudi Arabia
The emerging reality now is that the presence of Saudi soldiers in Bahrain for more than two years, appears clearly that Saudi Arabia, not Iran or other external force has a hand in Manama.
This geopolitical fact is evident to Iran and the West, even clearer than among some of the opposition parties.
For me, I have written about possible scenarios for a settlement in Bahrain, which I see it coming soon, and I think such settlement is fragile and not historic, perhaps similar to the settlement of the Oslo for Palestinian – that I referred to it in a series of articles under theme "Bahrain 2014" published in Al-Akhbar Lebanese newspaper. There are no foreseen evidences in my possession that make me believe that Bahrain will emerge from the Saudi influence in any future settlement.
That is what makes eminent opponents talking about the change in Saudi Arabia as an initial entrance to accomplish a substantial reform in Bahrain, this may be true, but I do not encourage believing in this hypothesis, because it means that Bahrain has to wait for so long to accomplish its democracy.
Perhaps Bahrain for Saudi Arabia is as Lebanon for Syria, regardless of any matters related to the nature of the regimes and alliances, and so the Saudi presence in Bahrain is in many respects similar to what was Syria's presence in Lebanon. Whether the Saudi presence in Manama is called an occupation or not, it is without doubt takes out Bahrain’s political sense, and without a doubt it prejudices to the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and its national confiscated resolution.
The question is: Is it possible for Bahrain to be Lebanon of the Gulf, and not Hong Kong to China, because that may be understood as of one country with two regimens, which I do not think as Bahrain is an independent state, and its independence cannot be comprised under any circumstances.
When I am saying that Bahrain is the Lebanon of the Gulf, I do not mean turning it into an arena of influence and regional conflict, but I meant democratic quotas (consensual in a positive sense) in the center of Arab dictatorships – an idea that is still entrenched.
It is, in no doubt, an imperfect invitation that does not satisfy many who looks for a classical democratic based on majority, which may be far-fetched according to the current balances, but we have to warn that if there were Western-style democracy in Bahrain, then a Bahraini ‘Zarqawi’ will be the master of the scene the next day to form a governmental of popular majority!
9-The solution is internal and away from regional hubs
The Bahraini spring dropped several parties in profound contradictions, and showed their hypocrisy, and not commitments to their statements. This applies to the states of the Arab Spring, political Islam, the West, the United Nations and the Peninsula Shield, and also the Arab media, most of it of belong to the Gulf, which dealt with the uprising in Bahrain as an event that does not deserve to be given a chance for analysis.
As for Saudi Arabia, it is the problem for Bahrain and its dilemma, and unfortunately not part of the solution, under a strict of Saudi doctrine: owned or burned Bahrain. A belief that was implemented by Riyadh in Iraq, and carried out in Syria, and thus Riyadh loses, Bahrain and the regional security.
The biggest mistake committed by the Bahraini authorities is throwing all of “their leaves in the basket of Saudi Arabia”, which reminds me of throwing Kuwait all its leaves in Saddam Hussein’s basket, who finished Kuwait off the next day once the war with Iran was over. Currently, Kuwait is trying to create a balance between the Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, and so perhaps should ‘new’ Bahrain does, so that the destiny of the small countries is “to lay their eggs in the basket of their people first”, and then distributed among the outside aspirants, at that basically saves it.
- Category: Studies
22 Jan 2013
- Written by BCSL Admin
It may seem that Bahrain does not live a problematic mandate of the Covenant, as experienced in Saudi Arabia and Oman, but this is only what is shown on the surface. As the Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa (1969 - present), the eldest son of the king, suffers of great difficulties in persuading his ruling family and the people of Bahrain (pro and opposition), including Saudi Arabia and some Western parties that he is a promising option. Where the name of his younger brother Nasser (1987 - present) rise and shine as an alternative to hard-liners in the ruling family and its elder sister Al Saud for Nasser taking on this post. However, the latter – Nasser- may face the opposition's rejection to him, and western scepticism in his ability to create national harmony, as well as a massive attack from prestigious international human rights organizations who shall necessarily cast away the western position, and may also undermine the credibility of the prince-to-be.
On the 26th of last November, Al Ayam newspaper, owned by the media advisor to the king of Bahrain Nabil Al Hamar, published on its front page news of King Abdullah II of Jordan welcoming Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad, along with a photo showing him attentively listening to Nasser.
In the same issue, the newspaper devoted a full page to cover the visit of the fourth son of King Hamad –Nasser- to the Hashemite Kingdom and his declaration of Syrian refugee camps in Amman for humanitarian projects supportive to the Syrians.
The Royal Charity Organization is headed by Nasser, which was restructured in 2007 based on the aspiration of the young prince to play a public role, about a year after graduating from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) in England.
The Royal Charity Organization almost gulp down the Bahrain Red Crescent Foundation and other charities of national character, in a non-innocent attempt to monopolize charitable work, and highlighting it as a registered brand in the name of the Prince favored by his father the king.
In a time when economic reform projects of the Crown Prince face fundamental problems almost ousted them, the charitable projects of Sheikh Nasser are not publicly criticized, even by the opposition. whereas intensive and costly public relations campaigns continue to show him as a man with humanitarian face, giving plenty of his time and effort for the poor and orphans and widows inside and outside Bahrain. I cannot consider that as a spontaneous and unintentional matter that does not carry special significance.
Nasser also chaired Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation, within a huge and undeclared budget, an issue that was and still raising a wide controversy and a popular curse, as well as questions about the waste of public money from the point of view of loyalists and opponents.
And usually the name of Nasser is announced as a first place winner in the races he participated in since the Federation was established in 2002, as if he is a "Super Hero".
On the other hand, his older brother, the Crown Prince Salman turned to car races, which are fashionable Western trend. He established the Bahrain International Circuit at cost of $ 150 million, and since its establishment in 2004 it is recording substantial and consecutive losses (more than 8 million BHD in 2011).
It is interesting that the king during his mandate of covenant, was head of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports until his assumption of the position of the emirate in March 1999. Then Sheikh Salman got in charge of the presidency of the Council to coincide with his appointment as crown prince in 1999, except for that Salman lost this post in favor to his younger brother Nasser in 2010, and perhaps he – the Crown Prince- should fear losing other posts indeed.
The regime has invested a lot of money and effort in Nasser in presenting him as a sponsor of sports and youth, and highlighting the events sponsored by or those that hold his name as extraordinary events. For example, Nasser 5 event adopted awards that cost 60 thousand BHD, and received media coverage on a large scale.
In short, Nasser is being marketed through intensive local media propaganda as a young, inspiring man, athlete, and poet, owner of an opinion and view, and sponsor of youth. He is also being presented as a person who is keen on youth culture, education, residence and livelihood. Moreover, Nasser is promoted as a merciful and generous young man who hardly sleeps the nights worrying on the poor, widows and orphans. And above all, a military person who earned the confidence of his father and always prepared to fight, ready to strike with an iron fist against his father's opponents. All are attributes of an inspiring leader, who audiences seek his leadership, and looks forward to him as a redeemer!!
2-Repositioning Salman during the Pearl Roundabout protests
During mass pro-democracy protests and set-ins in the Pearl Roundabout (February-March 2011), the Crown Prince has been marketed and promoted across the local and international media for about an entire month, and in a defining and historic moment that shall remain in the minds for some time, as the owner of a moderate position. He was presented as the man of dialogue, and a dove of peace who deals with the opposition by calling for serenity and dialogue, and presenting a bold political initiative, which earned him the support of the West, a curse of the loyalists, and sympathy of the opponents who could not find an alternative to ally with inside the ruling family - which adopted "We or they" motto- except for the Crown Prince.
From the point of view of the Crown Prince’s opponents in the ruling family (Al Khawaled Pavilion), chaired by the Minister of Royal Court, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Salman failure in attracting opponents to his initiative was a miserable failure. It might not be exaggerated if I say that the success of Salman in attracting opponents would have recorded - from the standpoint of Al Khawaled- a greater failure. As long as they, along with Sunni public opinion generally considered the mere thought of the Crown Prince, or his acceptance to play the role of the negotiator on the establishment of a full power parliament and a government that represents the people's will, as a wrong and destructive strategy. A strategy that calls on a military intervention of Saudi Arabia in order to resolve the conflict in favor of the current situation, and bury the dream that might have been drawn by the initiative consisting of seven points, allowing the opposition to have a prestigious weight in the power and influence circle.
That initiative has dragged more challenges to the Crown Prince and has exacerbated the fragility of his position in front of influential people in the palace that see him as a unreliable person who does not succeed in the tasks assigned to him. They always repeat that the Crown Prince is a meek and liberal person. Add to that, his western interests: his passion to riding cars and not horses, and does not write Bedouin poetry, as does his brother Nasser!
In addition to the opposition, Salman carried alone the responsibility of the collapse of the talks in March, as if the other parties in power are not involved. The Crown Prince was isolated after the authorities used excessive force to crush the protests in the Pearl Roundabout. It was repeated for so long that he was not a man of political or military decision. He worked hard to satisfy the militants and Sunni loyalists by sacking thousands of workers in companies run by "Mumtalakat" (the investment arm of the Bahraini Government), under his supervision.
According to this text he was seen as a wobbling person whose way is unclear, once calling for dialogue and another lining up with the owners of the security solution. He was also seen as a person who does not complete his effort in dialogue on one hand, and not putting all his cards in the hands of the military on the other hand. "We do not know his land from his sky, nor to what direction is he leaning" a comment by a senior loyalist once, describing Salman. The opposition says no better talk about Salman and his potential, as well as the skyline of attempts of dialogue in which he contributed.
No longer has the Economic Development Board EDB chaired by Crown Prince met every Thursday as it used to do since the public clash with the Prime Minister in 2008. Where its major adviser Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa was transferred from his post as Chief Executive of the EDB to be Senior Advisor in the Crown Prince Royal Court, as one of the signs of reclusion, and disastrous failure of the EDB, which has become hanger to all state’s economic failures.
However, attempts to re-market the Crown Prince continued through opening his weekly gatherings to welcome his supporters. Neither his father the king or the Prime Minister and those influential officials have not visited his gatherings, where also no visits of the opposition were recorded. It is indeed a complex situation for the Crown Prince, where he carries full responsibility first and foremost. It is probably acceptable by him or even admired, mistakenly believing that he is engaged with all parties, but he is mostly losing them.
3-Repositioning Salman during the Pearl Roundabout protests
In March 2011, Nasser leaded the militants in the ruling family, supporting the position taken by his father, and the army commander Khalifa bin Ahmed, and Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman. He also spoke publicly via Bahrain National TV in a violent and reckless manner that lacked diplomacy, calling for revenge against the opposition. That seemed a defining moment in the official approach of the state expressed by Nasser more than Salman who went on state television several times calling for calmness, while the army killed Abdulredha Buhumaid (18 February 2011). Whereas, his younger brother Nasser was biased to take on the security option, a decision that the authorities adopted relentlessly.
Nasser (and his brother Khalid) is accused of torturing prisoners of conscience, and that have ruined his image inside the country and in the West. That is one of the most important weaknesses that are not to be easily forgotten or ignored as a key of a character meant to be leading. Whilst Saudi Arabia and the influential pavilion in the royal family and its loyalists are now convinced that the option of Nasser is worth studying for taking on key positions in the regime.
4-The military promotions ignores the Crown Prince
The King appointed his son Nasser as chief of the Royal Guard in June 2011, shortly after the lifting of the state of emergency in the country, which was announced between 15 March and 31 May 2011. That has shown the king’s great confidence in Nasser, who considers him as a fortified shield to protect the personal security of King (the symbol of the Khalifi influence), and prevent the opposition from carrying out their ends in the overthrow of the ruler, or reduce his powers. Promoting Nasser to the position of a colonel and assigning him to head the Royal Guard came within a systematic policy to promote the parties considered by the regime as advocate for it. Moreover, sometimes these promotions came as a proactive step, as in the case of the army commander who was promoted from the position of a General to a marshal in 8 February 2011 in the 43rd Defense Force Day and under the youth preparations declared for the launch of an uprising on February 14, a spring that followed Egypt and Tunisia springs. That has given a green light for the army to appalling violations of human rights, which some have been documented in the famous report of Bassiouni.
It seems remarkable that the promotion of the Crown Prince from a General to a marshal was announced a few days after promoting the Army Commander. As if it came after the son’s reproach to his father, who forgot or ignored to promote his eldest son, which in both cases contains bright political implications.
King Hamad has issued a royal order of promoting Khalifa bin Ahmed (1946- present) to a marshal in 8 February 2011, and it was broadcasted in Bahrain TV and Bahrain News Agency BNA. Local newspapers also published the news of the promotion in their websites on the same day and in their printed issues next day, coupled with heavy banners of congratulations for two days at a row, 9th and 10th of February. Reference to the Crown Prince’s promotion was not made until February 15, nearly a week after the promotion of the Army Commander.
It is noted that the Crown Prince’s promotion did not resonate in the local media, which did not publish any congratulating banners, not even regular reports about it, for reasons related to the fake promotion itself with no single doubt, and its embarrassing timing coming after the promotion of the Army Commander. Moreover, perhaps because the country was then mired in blood due to the killing of two young men (Ali Mushaima in February 14, and Fadhel Matrook in 15 February), and then the bloody attack on the Pearl Roundabout in 17 February.
While the Minister of the Royal Court congratulated his brother the Army Commander, he did not congratulate the Crown Prince, as there was no welcome from the Army Commander to the Crown prince’s promotion, when he scored a warm welcome to Sheikh Nasser’s promotion to the position of colonel. It is difficult not to say that this has many political interpretations. Therefore, despite the fact that the Crown Prince served as Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, he does not have influence on the military decision, which is held strongly by the Army Commander, the brother of the Minister of the Royal Court who is the right hand of the king and the real Prime Minister. Given that Sheikh Khalifa, the Prime Minister is no longer in power after the king stripped him of his powers, unlike what the international media repeats.
5-The Crown Prince: Implications of tumbling of the economic reform programs
The economic reform projects led by the Crown Prince reached to almost a dead end including projects that were launched in 2003 related to reforming the economy, the labor market and education. The reasons of its retreat is back to attempts to separate political reform from economic reform, and seek to perpetuate a monopolistic model with new faces and modern mechanisms, while old monopoly lobbies stand as steel barrier to prevent the realization of the public interest, and reduce their privileges.
The labor market reform has completely derailed when it was sure that is it moving toward the interest of unemployed Shiite citizens, and small and medium enterprises in which they invest in, where the restrictions on them is at its peak for the establishment of major companies. Furthermore, education reform will open competition in investment in education -which is intended to be monopolistic- and will also increase the options for Shiite citizens seeking a good education that takes them out from the reality of being seen as second-class citizens, who also cannot find the chance they deserve in scholarships provided by the Ministry of Education and military institutions.
No economic reform was made and a handful of influential people remained in control of the economy and monopolized the wealth, while talking about "competitiveness" has been focused on the competitiveness of Bahrain and its sisters in the Gulf, and neglecting local investors who find it difficult to compete against the Khalifi merchant and its platforms.
Perhaps it is not observed by ordinary citizen necessarily, but the files failing on levels of reforming Gulf Air and others caused great embarrassment to the Crown Prince. These reform programs resulted in daily losses of the company estimated at half a million BHD. In addition to "Alba" for the production of aluminum (major Bahraini company) profit that fell back during the first half of 2012 to about 57 million BHD, compared to a net profit of 102.88 million BHD for the same period in 2011, a drop of 44.63 percent".
In addition to the question of public opinion in the feasibility of the Crown Prince’s projects, the putative reform programs have taken the Crown Prince to face a fierce war against the Prime Minister, reached its peak in January 2008. This war has cost the Crown Prince a lot, in terms of making fierce enemies: a traders lobby, and Sunni Islamists, who are objective allies for the Prime Minister against reforming the economy, believing this supposed reform would increase the burden of businessmen, and is in favor of Shiite citizens, whether traders who may gain more competitive opportunities, or Shiite workers who represent the majority in the private sector.
It seems remarkable that the project of opening a telecommunications market, which scored some success, was not connected to the Crown Prince! Though it has been launched with his own initiative in 2003, yet, it has been meant to be linked to Ahmed Atiyatallah, a hardliner and notorious advisor in the Royal Court. Where the file of ramshackle houses been referred from the Royal Charity Organization to other government agencies -as a matter of urgency- when it became clear that the project is limping, so that its failure is not linked to Sheikh Nasser, who is intended to be a file with no single errors. Labeling errors to the Crown Prince seemed at several times as a policy led by the influential persons in the palace.
It was intended to drag the Crown Prince -who usually accepts the role sketched for him and may also volunteer for it- in the midst of a battle of attrition against the Prime Minister, in an all-out war waged by the King against his uncle to monopolize the power and authority. The so-called reform program has gained support from opponents of the Crown Prince in the palace, especially since the primary undeclared and agreed upon objective between the father and son is pulling powers of their uncle, the Prime Minister, and not to restructure the economy in favour to the public interest. Nevertheless, those in control in the palace are well aware that the supposed reform program would be enough to make the Crown Prince lose the confidence of the liberal elite and the moderate opposition, who are candidates to support him against his conservative opponents. Yet, both parties are no longer counting on him, whether to be a model of good governance and leading a serious economic reform as the opposition hopes, or to be a hand-thick person as loyalists and those in power of Al Khalifa want him to be.
6-The Scenarios of the mandate of the Covenant
It is difficult to draw clear scenarios for the future of the two brothers Salman and Nasser, under the prospective shifts in the nature of the government. Especially if we assume –even if not certain- that the Bahraini authorities provide a set of reforms that may affect the league involved in decision-making. It is also illogical to disregard the aspiration shown by Nasser to play an important role in the state and the support he gets from his father and those around him, in light of the fragility that characterize the performance of the Crown Prince and the weakness of his alliances.
Several evidences indicate the continuance of the Minister of the Royal Court (the reader of the King’s thoughts and its implementer) to push Nasser to be ahead of his brothers, including the Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad (1975-present), who was appointed in March 2010 as a Personal Representative to the king. It reflects an apparent attempt to contain the protests of the sons of Sheikha Sabika, the first wife of the king, who appears in the media as the "first lady" in Bahrain, and whom children think they come first, in what they see their half-brother Nasser ahead of them in a fast speedy manner.
About this scene, we might be in front of a group of possible scenarios, including the following:
Scenario I: Nasser, a Crown Prince
I am not hesitant to say that Sheikh Salman does not represent the most appropriate option from the ruling crew’s and Saudi Arabia perspective to become the future king of Bahrain. Perhaps those alongside a wide range of Sunni loyalists prefer Sheikh Nasser for reasons mentioned above.
Nevertheless, the scenario of overthrowing Salman and appointing Nasser to replace him may form a leap that carries implications that are not trivial, and perhaps facing several dilemmas, including the following:
The first dilemma is the strong coalition which was built by the Crown Prince with the United States and Britain. Whereas, Sheikh Nasser's image reflects an image of an impetuous young man who lacks wisdom, and does not enjoy a close relationship with the West, exactly like the militant in the palace and the Prime Minister’s Court.
Yet, it is indefinite whether this dilemma has been inflated as part of the equation, in the light of the Saudi approach that might have a bigger impact than the West. Perhaps the American-British submission to the blackmail practiced by those in power in the royal palace who do not hesitate to direct vitriol to America and Britain through MPs, loyal societies and Al-Watan newspaper, is seen as an indicator of the probability that the West could give up on Salman. Especially since some voices believe that their lengthy investment in the Crown Prince did not come fruit, and some of these voices sees the alliance with the real rulers of the country comes at first than holding on to Salman who lacks many of the qualities of leadership and firmness from their point of view.
The Wikileaks website revealed that the analysts in Washington in 2009 noticed and after "analyzing the (behavior) of the leadership in the royal family of Bahrain it is more likely that Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, and (his younger brother) Prince Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa are emerging significant targets". The leaked document also pointed out the lack of State Department to information on the princes, and asked for "reports on the scope of their influence within the family, personality traits, and disciplines of knowledge, and if they use drugs or consume alcohol or cause problems within the royal family. Also if they have any friends among Shiite Muslims, who usually stand behind the protests taking place in Bahrain".
The West making up its mind to put Salman in power after his father may not be this certain, especially when we recall that the late Jordanian king Hussein Bin Talal made up his mind to transfer the mandate of the Covenant from his brother Hassan to his son Abdullah II few weeks prior to his death in 1999. As well as the Qatari Prince who was able to transfer the power from his eldest son Meshaal to younger son Tamim easily.
The second dilemma is that Shiite citizens prefer Sheikh Salman on his brother Nasser, where an important sector of the Sunnis may prefer Nasser, yet, they will not be able to reject Salman. Under these complex circumstances, it is difficult for the regime to ignore the negative position taken by the Shiites from Nasser, who they see as militant and violator of human rights.
The ruling family is not used to taking the opinion of the people into account in such matters or even other less important matters. However, the appointment of Nasser as a Crown Prince may deepen the Bahraini dispute, and lead to strengthen the opposition forces’ position of rejecting the monopoly of power to Al Khalifa. It may also enshrine the slogan "the people want to overthrow the regime", and increase the Western suspicions in the ability of the Khalifi regime on making a political settlement of the ongoing Bahraini issue.
The presence of Nasser on the top of the pyramid in the state clearly means the continuation of the policy of the iron fist, cleansing and naturalization, and all that is dragged by it that is deepening the political crisis in the country.
Scenario II: a double-headed Kingdom
In case it was difficult for the Khalifi family to replace Salman with Nasser for reasons related to the unity of the family and not having a third option from the king's sons as the readiness of Khalid bin Hamad (1989- present) for this task is still unclear. Khalid is the fifth son of the king of Bahrain, and is married to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia daughter, and who is believed to be a copy of Nasser. To ensure the monarchy continues to Hamad sons, a double-headed Kingdom scenario can be put up: Salman and Nasser, the first a king, and the second a Prime Minister, or a Crown Prince, even though Salman has always showed his son Isa as his successor.
It is known that during the reign of the late Emir Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa (1933- 1999), the Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa was the true ruler of the country, and this scenario is available to be repeated again.
Moreover, when Mohammed bin Rashid was a Crown Prince in Dubai he was the true ruler of Dubai emirate under the rule of his brother Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Sheikh Mohammed has settled the mandate of the Covenant to his son when he became the ruler of Dubai, and as we know Nasser bin Hamad is married to the daughter of the Ruler of Dubai.
In Abu Dhabi, the rule of the late Sheikh Zayed moved to a dual: the ruler of Abu Dhabi Khalifa and his brother Mohammed who was appointed as Crown Prince. But the latter apparently is who stands up for the management of the governance affairs.
The choice of the double-headed Kingdom was experienced in Bahrain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi and it has guarantee the family cohesion, but it could not guarantee to Salman to set his son in the mandate of the Covenant.
This scenario means that the power will go for Nasser and not Salman with all that it represents of a victory for the Saudi approach who will intensify the tensions and deepen it in Bahrain.
The Crown Prince will have to seriously take on convincing his father, loyalists, oppositionists and Saudi Arabia that he is able to save their interests, under the roof of one country and one home.
But perhaps he is supposed to put in his mind the possibilities of overthrowing him, as the political movement should also take that in mind. Furthermore, Nasser has to be expecting alongside the new position if the king issued a royal order in regard, that there would necessarily be controversy and an increase in the unrest and tension as well as an increase in the western concerns about the efficacy of the line led by King Hamad who plunged the country into an unprecedented predicament.
I might think it is likely that Nasser opportunities may increase whenever his father was able to quell the unprecedented uprising that permeated Bahrain. Where the position of the Crown Prince is reinforced with the existence of a public movement, under the belief of some parties in the family that Salman may be one of the keys to a comprise with this movement.
This is not a call for an alliance between the Crown Prince and the opposition, as it would be a rush to consider them in an objective alliance. This surely is not making Salman cheer for the protests, where he goes on giving cover to suppress the protests through the behavior of public relations practiced inside and outside Bahrain. But the opposition societies lead by Al Wefaq still clings to him as an ally in a family dominated by militancy in its leaders.
Bahrain is at a crossroads, and the continuation of the current conditions, or the first or second scenario becoming true does not hold any goodness to Bahrain. And perhaps the scenario of a democratic consensus, which is supposed to include enabling the legislative institution of authorizing the name of the king and his Crown Prince, as well as resolving any conflicts that might occur in regard, is a condition that could lead to not allow a person, no matter who he is to control Bahrain. The elected institution is supposed to be the decision-maker, not only in the choosing the Prime Minister and forming the government, but also in deciding on choices of the ruling family of the person who shall take on the monarchy, as was done in Kuwait while the Council of the Nation approved Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad an Emir of the State in 2006.
1-For more information on the organization, see: http://www.orphans.gov.bh/ara/
2- Al-Wasat newspaper, January 12, 2012: http://www.alwasatnews.com/data/2012/3403/pdf/spt4.pdf
3-For the Crown Prince initiative, see: Gulf Daily News, Manama, March 13, 2012. http://www.alwasatnews.com/3110/news/read/532237/1.html
4-For more details about the political behavior of Sheikh Salman, also read: Abbas Busafwan, The Crown Prince, a keeper of his father’s approach, in: The Structure of Tyranny in Bahrain: A study in the Power Balances in the Ruling Family, Bahrain Centre for Studies in London BCSL, 11 September 2012 http://www.bcsl.org.uk/ar/publications/516-bahrain-structure-tyranny-power
5-For more details about the political behavior of Sheikh Salman, also read: Abbas Busafwan, The Crown Prince, a keeper of his father’s approach, in: The Structure of Tyranny in Bahrain: A study in the Power Balances in the Ruling Family, Bahrain Centre for Studies in London BCSL, 11 September 2012 http://www.bcsl.org.uk/ar/publications/516-bahrain-structure-tyranny-power
6-Bahrain Center for Human Rights: http://www.bahrainrights.org/ar/node/4519
7-See the news published by the BNA on the following link: http://www.bna.bh/portal/news/446620?date=2012-03-28
8-Al-Ayam Newspaper: http://alayam.com/Articles.aspx?aid=65326
9-Gulf Daily News, February 9, 2011: http://www.akhbar-alkhaleej.com/12010/article/429368.html
10-See: Al-Wasat newspaper, February 9, 2011: http://www.alwasatnews.com/pdf/index.php?issue=3078&cat=fir
Al-Wasat newspaper, February 10, 2011: http://www.alwasatnews.com/pdf/index.php?issue=3079&cat=fir
11-See Al-Wasat newspaper, February 15, 2011: http://www.alwasatnews.com/3084/news/read/527322/1.html
12-Al-Ayam Newspaper: http://alayam.com/Articles.aspx?aid=65270
13-Al-Wasat newspaper, 19 June 2011: http://www.alwasatnews.com/3207/news/read/567157/1.html
14-Abbas Busafwan, The Structure of Tyranny in Bahrain: A study in the Power Balances in the Ruling Family, Bahrain Centre for Studies in London BCSL, 11 September 2012
15-Al-Wasat newspaper, 7 January 2012.
16-Al-Wasat newspaper, July 29, 2012.
17-Also read: To what direction the Crown Prince is taking the oil and gas sector, Bahrain Mirror, July 30, 2012. http://bhmirror.no-ip.org/article.php?id=5241&cid=88
18-Abbas Busafwan, How to understand the request of Bahrain to deport the U.S. Ambassador in Manama, Al Quds Al Arabi, London, July 4, 2012: http://www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=data\2012\07\07-04\04qpt473.htm
20-Abbas Busafwan, A study of the motives calling for the fall of the monarchy, in: The Structure of Tyranny in Bahrain: A study in the Power Balances in the Ruling Family, Bahrain Centre for Studies in London BCSL, 11 September 2012
- Category: Studies
01 Jul 2012
- Written by BCSL Admin
When the people of Bahrain happened to be calling for their political rights starting from the rights of true citizenship, they faced an obligatory rejection of the ruling regime and a crackdown on the protesters -a monarchy authoritarian system based on absolute power, palliative with formalities that do not change the core of the basis. And not only did the King confronted with his armed forces which he organized under the name of “Bahrain Defense Force", but also used Gulf troops under the name of "Peninsula Shield Forces" bringing them into the scenes of the public protests to confrontthe unarmed civilians.
Here, and contrary to what USAreacted on the public protest in other countries like Libya for example -where it did issue from the Security Council a resolution of allowing the foreign military intervention to protect civilians and used it as a pretext for NATO intervention, which led to the overthrow and killing of President Muammar Gaddafi- in the case of Bahrain,USAhas almost been silent at first,whichshoweditsapproval to the military repression on the peaceful publicprotest. It alsosuspended any reaction, yet, encouraged the intervention of the Gulf Forces consisting of majority of Saudi. USA has been recently adopting an introverted position of urging the King of Bahrain to make some reforms that might ease the public congestion, yet, continues its support to the regime in Bahrain regardless ofthe reality of the authoritarian rule practiced by it. The position the United States has been taken about Bahrain, has raised questions about the reasons for its adherence to this regime, despiteits definite contrary to USA’s claims of certain commitment to spreading democracy and establishing human rights bases.
In this study we will discuss the strategy of the United States in the region and the position of Bahrain within it. we will also approach the reasons why USA is interested in the Middle East first, so we stand thenon the adopted strategy of the United States in the region, then we are to determine Bahrain’s position amid this strategy, with an attempt to shed light on the best approach for the people of Bahrain to achieve their demands in view of the existing facts at the present time.
2- The importance of the Middle East in the USA perspective
Since itcame into the global influential scenein the World War II, the United States has sought to expand its strategic sphere, and after the war ended in 1945 and the United Nations was established on the wrecks of "the League of Nations LON" to prevent war and to achieve international security and peace, the world order that was set up at the time came to protect the interests of the victors,which at the forefront was USA, who adopted the policy that allows it to achieve its goals without falling into the negative aspects of the old colonialism.
Therefore, the United States focused on the Middle East, as the latter does represent benefits in support toUSA’s universal project. The region of the Middle East is mediating the ancient world and has the necessary corridors of transportation and travel between the parts of the world, and then it storesthe sources of energy (oil and gas) that were not yet replaced by any viable alternative. So it has become firmly entrenched in the general strategic philosophy that one who has control over this region has easily control over the global decision.
Building on that,USAhas put the entire region in its highest level of attention, and it has adopted safe and reliableplans and strategies, while it did not congeal withonly one strategy to work upon, but adaptedits behavior according to the given variables, with the stability of the goal. This is logical because the strategy varies according to the change of the data and the elements upon which it is built.
This is said with a reminder that a strategy in general -depends on key goals to secure the vital interests of a party and is to act by all available means and capabilities toward achieving them, by taking into account the working environment which includes the facilities extended or the obstacles and barriersproduced. After this, the plans are putthat enable to achieve the interests\targets through using the available means that meet the conditions and the running environment. In short, a strategy is understood to be a plan of using the available capabilities in order to achieve the desired interests and goals, with respect to the circumstances of the current environment.
Initially, it is to outline a strategy determining the interests\goals, and then count the available or acquired capacity and potential, down to the identification of obstacles and difficulties or risks that prevent and hinder the achievement of the desired objectives. And on this basis, the researcher on the strategy of the United States in the Middle East must stand at first onthe strategy ofUSAand then look for the USAn interests in the Middle East in particular. Moreover,the researcher must also identify the obstacles that might hinder the implementation, and more accurately determine the opponent or the enemy that USAshall face in its quest to achieve what it wants in the region.
3- The U.S. strategic interests
It may not be easy to outline the U.S. interestsand in particular that USA depends onmultiple methods including the direct methodand explicit delineationin defining them; it is also not lagging behind the adoption of puns to their goals,according to the nature of the goal. However,the U.S. interests in the Middle East can be counted as in the following:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a. <!--[endif]-->The specific direct interests as four points explicitly set by President Barack Obama:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->§ <!--[endif]-->To ensure the flow of oil to the West
<!--[if !supportLists]-->§ <!--[endif]-->To endure the survival of Israel and its security
<!--[if !supportLists]-->§ <!--[endif]-->To prevent one of the countries in the region owning weapons of mass destruction
<!--[if !supportLists]-->§ <!--[endif]-->To fight against terrorism, in accordance to the USA concept.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b. <!--[endif]-->The concealed interest\goals are embodied in:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->§ <!--[endif]-->To prevent the formation of fronts, forces or regional hubs facing the United States and impede its activity,
<!--[if !supportLists]-->§ <!--[endif]-->To prevent the establishment of strong and independent regional states,
<!--[if !supportLists]-->§ <!--[endif]-->To prevent stability that provides and promote for national and regional progress,
<!--[if !supportLists]-->§ <!--[endif]-->To reduce the Chinese advancement
<!--[if !supportLists]-->§ <!--[endif]-->To prevent the expansion of the strategic space for both China and Russia in the Middle East.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->c. <!--[endif]-->The disguised or hidden interests are mainly concentrated to prevent people of the region from owning and exercising its right of self-determination and sovereignty. And also prevent it from exploiting and controlling its natural resources, and work on the disclosure of a culture of annexation and non-self-confidence.
The United States started to achieve these goals based first on its own capabilities of a strong economy -ranked as the strongest economy in the world - and the enormous military capability made the most of the military and strategic researchers ranked as the first place in the world. Then it accumulated these capabilities on two levels, the military alliances where it established a strong and coherent NATO and tried more than once, to establish other alliances like a Central NATO or Baghdad Pact in the late fifties. Moreover, it tended to rely on international organizations and bodies, specially the United Nations, the International Security Council, the World Bank and the International Energy Agency and others.
1.Sat by Obama in 2011 in his speech on the occasion of support of the democratic movements in the Arab world
4- The current U.S. strategy and its requirements
In the decades following World War II, the United States and its alliances fluctuated on the adoption of several strategies. In the fifties it began with the "strategy of deterrence and containment" which has worked on throughout the period of "the Cold War" with the Soviet Union, which led to the dismantling of the latter in year 1989. Later on, it moved immediately to a "strategy of hard power" and turned it into wars and fight fronts in the Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq. Its ally Israel has also contributed –partially in accordance to USA’s orders- to launch a war on the resistance in Lebanon in 2006, which resulted in its failure and defeat confirmed in 2000 when it dodged from southern Lebanon.
This defeat accumulated on Israel, and was added on the U.S. failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, which made the United States switch to the "strategy of soft power" that was applied directly on Iran, but it soon became apparent that this strategycould not achieve the goals facingan ideological opponent like Iran requiring a soul-consuming and patient methodologies.USA here responded to the views of strategic thinkers and adopted since 2010, the "crisis management strategy." The new USA option has dedicated in its overall strategic concept on NATO, which was adopted in the November 2010 to be worked on in the next decade until 2020. And in this concept the United States and NATO confirmed on basic fundamentals, which are:
1- The importance of the Middle East to the Western security and economy, especially in terms of f oil and Israel's security.
2- The abandon of the strategy of hard power and closing the active fronts and withdrawing combat troops from Iraq and Afghanistan no later than 2014.
3-The crisis management that appear in the world in general and in the Middle East in particular, lead to contain it, and walk out towards Western interests.
4- Stick to the option of nuclear deterrence as an instrument of effective tool to prevent any earnest threat to the Western interests.
5- Tightening in the policy of depriving its opponents from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons.
So, USAhas recently changed its strategy after failing in the adoption of two strategies in a row, but did not change the major strategic objectives, particularly with regard to oil control, Israel security, and the prevention of the Middle East of becoming an area with a decision maker other than the U.S.A, or whom may even share in the decision making process, whether was a foreign party, or a party from within. To achieve these goals USA saw that direct military presence in the Middle East, near the oil wells, a grasper of the waterways, and a factor helping the military situation and the security of Israel not to collapse, is a necessity if not a significant condition to bring about confidence in the future according to USA’s preferences in the region. This presence has become more important after the abandonment of the hard power strategy, because its duty has turned into a deter duty, which requires heavy close presence that dreadsthe enemiesand keeps it from any confrontation or friction.Based on this strategic necessity,USA finds itself bound to uphold the appropriate military basesin that region in order to ensure the protection of its interests that have been stated above, if not even intensifying and expandingits reach to build a deterrent curtain\Shield of a shield of firewall, and a fighting fist constantly directed against the "enemy" who threatens U.S. interests in the region. But who is threatening these interests anyways?
5- Sources of threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, the world followed the U.S. -the world’s sole pole at the time- and no country in the Middle Eastwas left outside the sphere of USAinfluence and control or held on the right of independence and self-sovereignty, exceptforces led by Iran –the Islamic Republic- which worked according to the principle of "neither Eastern or Western", and saw in Israel a "gland cancer that must be uprooted". Iran deepened its strategic alliance with Syria, who maintained its rights of nationalism and patriotism in Palestine and the Arab land occupied by Israel, an adherence made it embrace alongside Iran the resistance movements against Israel in Lebanon and Palestine, which came in the forefront Hezbollah and Hamas movements as well as the Islamic Jihad. And components of the above-mentioned have created an axis called "the axis of resistance and opposition".
The interesting point is that the theme of this axis has been ideologically formed on two things: the "Islam active jihadist” thatisadopted by both Iran and the Islamic resistance movements, and the "Arab nationalist thought" and "leftist" which is adopted by Syria and the Palestinian resistance factions. This axis was a challenge posed to the United States, which refuses the existence of such alliances, or the establishment of fronts that are not following it as previously stated. Despite all USA's efforts and pressure, and what was carried out by the military deployment in the Gulf region after the "fake war" launched under the name of the "Desert Storm" to liberate Kuwait, which ended in the defeat of Saddam Hussein and the spread of U.S. military directly into Kuwait placed on the outskirts of the Iranian coasts. In spite of all that,the mentioned axis of the resistance has continued to stick to its positions, which it was considered by the United States a threat to its strategic interests in the region. So USAdecided to confront those through working on dismantling their alliances, and eliminating their group and individual capabilities in order to prevent the exacerbation of their danger to its interests.
Therefore, it is an enemy in the political- military lexicon of the U.S. each of the following:
-Hezbollah in Lebanon, who fought Israel in order to expel it out of Lebanon and to liberate the south and that was accused by the United States as a terrorist movement and has developed systems and plans to fight against and harass it.
-Palestinian Resistance Movements, particularly the Islamic -Hamas and Islamic Jihad- which threaten Israeli security in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in addition to what could be pouring out into the occupied territories in 1948.
-Syria who is the direct custodian of the resistance movements mentioned, and the recusant to concede to Israel as both Egypt and Jordan did, which hampers the closing out of the Palestinian case as craved by the United States and Israel and keeps the fate of Israel under a serious sign of question as long as the issue was not resolved.
-Iran that is the most dangerous party to the declared U.S. interests, for being so outspoken regarding its rejection of the existence of Israel and its support for resistance movements, and also for its military power making it able to threaten the navigation in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, which is the most important a corridor for oil to the West. As well as Iran’s firearms that threaten the oil wells, and also its impact on the decision of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries "OPEC," as a producer and exporter of oil.
In addition to those direct regional powers which we have stated above, it remains in the USA mind the parties outside that region directly or indirectly. Without going into details we will mention of all China, which is in need to Middle East oil in the process of its economic advancement which is now seriously threatening and spearheading the Western economy. We will also mention Russia who recovered its vigilance and began groping the way back into the international stage to play the role of force powers which was the role it has lost two decades ago after the collapse of the Soviet occupation. These two countries have a stake in building up significant relationship and coordination with the forces in the Middle East that oppose the United States where Iran comes in the forefront.
6- The Iranian threat on USA interests from the Western perspective and the requirements of confrontation
Amongst all parties whom the U.S. sees as threat to its interests in the Middle East, Iran seemed to have the geopolitical and strategic location making it a powerful adversary seriously threatening the interests of the U.S., for the bellow stated reasons:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· 1-Iran inhabits the north-eastern shore of the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz,the door for over40% of global oil exports.
2-Iran laid its system upon an Islamic regime, working under the logic of the Islamic active jihadist, and the Islamic doctrine of 12 Imams (Shiite), which seeks independence and sovereignty and rejects subordination and annexation.
3-Iran has a military force that can affect the navigation in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
3-Iran has defensive capabilities to prevent foreign intervention, as it is capable of causing serious harm to Israel through its missile energy.
4-Iran is based in 3 islands from the east, controlling the traffic in the Strait of Hormuz.
5-Iran has a strategic extension to the Mediterranean coast through its allies, enabling it to be in direct contact with the borders of Palestine that is occupied by Israel.
Therefore, Iran was included in the top of theUSA black list as the most dangerous party because of what it has –as according to the opinion of the United States- is considered a threat to more than one USA interest or strategic goal. Iran is an oil country first, and does affect the oil market and rejects Israel's existence and controls the power of navigation in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, and is engaged in a regional strategic alliance seeks the legitimacy and independence. It has also – from the eye of the U.S. - a political ambition beyond its territory and is seeking to expand its strategic spherethrough forming a coherent regional front adheres to the independence of decision, sovereignty over the land and wealth, as well as working for the "Middle East for its own people," contrary to the USA policy, which strives to establish the "New Middle East" consisted fromweak nations based on religious, national or ethnic basis, in favor to Israel and the West’s interest.
And addition to what is said, Iran is seeking to obtain power in all of its military, economic, political intellectual and cultural sources as well as religious beliefs –Islamic Jihad- as power based on the capacity to self abilities and external alliances. Besides its hosting and support for resistance movements and put in place the "axis of resistance and opposition" to the USA authoritarian approach in the region we would come to the conclusion to say that the U.S. sees Iran's the most dangerous state in the world againstits interests. That we understand when Iran has been considered as the head of the "axis of evil" quoting George Walker Bush the (Former U.S. president) it meant evil to U.S. interests, good for the people of the region.
With this conclusion,USAis now confident that the survival of the current Iranian regime would hinder its work and policy in the region. Moreover, it is not able to overlook the fact that the entire world followed it, except for Iran and its axis. This axis caused USA’s failure to establish a global unipolar order and forced it to retreat and start to accept a multi-polar world that refuses even bipolar system, which fell with the fall of the Soviet Union.
With this vision USA realized that the military option to tame Iran or change its regime on the Afghani, Iraqi and Libyan way is impossible due to both objectiveand subjective circumstances for both parties. USA also consider sits experiment with soft power and its attempts to penetrate inside Iran to spread chaos and pitting the world to Iran from the door of the false claim that it "does not respect the rules of democracy and disguise human rights" or that it is seeking to the atomic bomb. However, its bid was disappointed, and the form of Iranian withstand raised a deep disappointment to the United States. This has resulted as we have previously mentioned in carrying USA to switch to the "strategy of crisis management", which impose in its work that two types of behaviours:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· 1-Possessing power of deterrence to prevent the opponent from an initiative to
2-The close and prepared political and military ability for a rapid situational intervention in order to make pressure and push the USA allies parties to be able to follow the USA lead in facing the opponents of the West.
Consequently, USA saw that the best way to implement this strategy is based on the land and sea spread of military near the oil wells and acquire control of the crossings\waterways of those wells to the west which are the Straits of Hormuz and Bab el Mandeb and Gibraltar as well as the Suez Canal.And then support the regimes of the "guards of the Western interests" who are the weak rulers who are based originally by the USA protection in order to survive and to suppress their own people on behalf of the United States to prevent the formation of and desires of independence and national sovereignty.
This logic has resorted USA to promote the development of regional powers working by its side, to form their fronts in facing Iran, while ensuring to achieve several goals, including diversion of the conflict from a Zionist-Arab/Islamic, to Arab-Persian, or Sunni-Shiite conflicts, which in the end will loosen up against Israel. That is a function added to the functions of the regimes of the "guards of the Western interests" established by Britain in the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula through building up states, emirates and sheikhs in the oil wells so to keep holding the energy across these weak and fragile states.USA has been able to establish and undertake the "Gulf Cooperation Council GCC," plant fear from Iran so to increase these countries’ connection with the U.S., and open their territories for the deployment of Western military bases, which amounted to thirteen bases in 2012 in the Arab countries based on the shore of the Gulf opposing Iran.
7- The importance of Bahrain within the USA strategy
Bahrain is group of Islands located in the Gulf facing all of Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, with which it has a long causewaythat can be accessed using vehicles. Most of its people are Arab and some of with Iranian roots, but all are Muslims, from which three-quarters are Shiites and the other quarter is Sunnis.
Bahrain's natural resources are limited and its national economy is the weakest among all the Gulf States. Britain has entrusted the rule to Al-Khalifa family -a Sunni Muslim family with Wahhabi tendencies presently- and its ruler announced himself a kingand turned the country intoa kingdom of absolute monarchy. Where he has practiced discrimination between citizens on the basis of sectarianism, wholly removing the Shiites from all main sectors of the state and its essential positions, yet, he also has not been impartial with the rest of the Sunnis themselves.
Bahrain acceded to the Gulf Cooperation Council “GCC” and participated in a limited way in the formation of the "Peninsula Shield Force."
Based on the foregoing, USAdid find in Bahrain an appropriate entity to its strategy with a lot of military and political advantages that facilitate its work in the Gulf region in particular and the Middle East in general. Hence,USA made sure to pamper Bahrain witha very careful care after it found itan appropriate area in terms of being:
1-Islands where they provide for those who are stationed important military advantages related to the marine movement and its protection in the Gulf and the south-western shore. For that reason, the United States hastened and through a process of military deployment in the region to adopt the Bahrain as a military base of the U.S. Fifth Fleet Command specialized in controlling the Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
2-islands opposite to the Iranian shore, and provide for those who are stationed an additional capacity to monitor the shore and set up the pre-alarms rules against any Iranian move in the direction of the south shore, where the Arab oil states. USA has used this location for setting up bases of radar and eavesdropping and spying in the region, especially against Iran – its chief and most dangerous foe in the region.
3-A region with the Qatar that advanced deep bases into the Gulf to defend the GCC against the alleged "Iranian threat".
4-a state with a majority of the Shiite Muslims of who some are with Iranian roots, feared with it -in the event of the establishment of a democratic governance based on the popular majority- to establish strategic relationships with Iran. And here Bahrain will move from being part of the system used by USA against Iran, to a base used by Iran against the Gulf system framed under the name of the "Gulf Cooperation Council", led by a Saudi Sunni-Wahhabi system. And for that purpose and to block such a possibility Saudi Arabia was quick after the protest movement taking place in Bahrain at the present time, to hasten to put the draft of the Gulf Union with Bahrain in particular, because the Union is to disable the effects of the public Shiite factor in Bahrain and to dissolve it in the Sunni majority in Saudi and the Gulf Cooperation Council (failed so far).The United States have realized this strategic importance of Bahrain, and Obama was explicit when he clearly said that "Bahrain is a long-term ally for us, and we will work to protect its security. We know that Iran is working to exploit the chaos there, and we know that the Bahraini government has a legitimate right to protect the system". This USA position encouraged the King of Bahrain -who is practically one of the employees in the U.S. administration and its intelligence - to confront the public protest movement demanding the rights of citizens and equality of citizenship between all people of Bahrain.Also, it was the U.S. overlook or even the green light to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to support the King of Bahrain to send the "Peninsula Shield Force" to quell the peaceful people demanding their rights.
But the inability of the King of Bahrain and despite the repression perpetrated by his forces, and supported by Saudi Arabia, and the full silence of the Arab League about what is going on in Bahrain, as the Arabs –with a clear sectarian mentality- think that what goes on there is a sectarian movement fuelled by Iran and has no single link to the Arab revolutions. As well as the invalidity of the falsehood of these allegations and sham promises made by the king of Bahrain, all these have become a source of embarrassment and concern to USA which carried it today to think about the future of Bahrain and its position in its strategy. And here we mention that the pragmatic approach of the current U.S. policy is based on the stability of interests and non-adherence in persons, frameworks and systems.
8- The U.S. fears of the situation in Bahrain
A-The Bahraini protest movement has placed USA between two options; one is not with fewer difficulties from the other:
First: to continue supporting the king and to keep him in the current status, through the continuation of the crackdown and prevention of any external intervention to resolve the crisis between him and his people. And here USA will have to continue to cover the behavior of a tyrant king, and if the people continue in its opposition and its protest movement, the result will be a loss of stability and the deterioration of the overall situation which will be reflected negatively on the function of Bahrain (adopted to be a military base to lead the 5th fleet and a defense point against Iran) in the U.S. strategy.
Two: to enable the public movement to achieve the reforms demanded, which means an establishment of a public majority pro-Iran government –as alleged by the U.S.- and here USA will losemany of the gains enjoyed today and its allies in the Gulf will find themselves against the direct Iranian threat exacerbating the risks set up by Iran -in their opinion- through concentration and direct military deployment in the Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbsopposing the Arab Emirates shores and at the northern-western entrance of the Strait of Hormuz. And even more than that, it may be the first stab in the body of the struggling Gulf Cooperative Council.
B-Taking into account these emerging risks, says from the United States has came into the scene speaking on the problem and bringing in the subject by what is observed to preserve the USA interests in the region in general and Bahrain in particular.
After that the United States gave the green light to the Saudi military intervention in Bahrain to protect the King fearing that his collapse will bring about political and demographic change in the interest of Iran, it came back after nearly a year on this position and urged the King of Bahrain on making reasonable reforms and start a dialogue with the opposition to reach to a satisfactory-to-some-extent solution to all parties.
And in its approach to the Arab situation,theUSA cell of studies and strategic research, which was formed in the United States to discuss implications of the so-called "Arab spring" on U.S. policy, it concluded its report by saying that standing bet on the continuation of the Gulf rulers regimes is a bet fraught with risks and the chances of its success is low, because this area has entered a movement that cannot be expected to stop with the continuation of authoritarian regimes, which are hosted by the U.S. whatsoever.
And today, the United States seriously fears the collapse of these systems as it fears the repercussions of this collapse on its military presence and its bases placed in the region and, consequently, the threat on the oil wells, which will open the way for Iran to expand its strategic sphere in the Gulf.
USA experts see that the United States should reconsider its current policy in holding on to and depending on dictators and head towards the power of the public basesin order to protect its interests, as in the words of Nicholas Burns in his lecture at Harvard in a symposium of the American’s strategists on the Middle East.
And a public USA direction has been crystallized after more than a year and a half of the public Arab movement; this direction is based on the say that USAis compelled to support the reform movements and in turn abandonthe authoritarian regimes if it wants to protect its interests in the Middle East.
9- The limits and controls of the U.S. behaviour on the future in Bahrain
Based on the above, we see that USA will not easily accept the idea of transformation of Bahrain and its transition to the opposing camp to its policy. As much as it is not obliged to hold on to the king of Bahrain, if found he will turn into a burden on it and especially on its interests. It is clear in the USA behavior and as mentioned previously, that the United States adheres to its own interests and does not stick to tools that are unable to grants its interest.
And on this basis and dueto the ongoing shifts in the region and on the public global level, we observe that USA will continue to look to Bahrain as an element of the implementation of its strategy in the Middle East being a developed marine military base in the Gulf, yet, not theabsolute adherence to its king and its existing regime,butthe control of any change and internal evolution to keep Bahrain in its strategic sphere.USA cannot turn its back on this state, but it will increase its commitment to itin the light of the growing power of Iran in the region, the direction taken by Iraq today in a constant way with Iran, and the open emergence of the Russian role in the Syrian crisis.
This behavior might indirectly be formed to encourage Saudi Arabia to protect the king and his regime and prevent any strategic change for Bahrain in the first stage. In case of failure of achieving stability, USA might seek to resolve the Bahraini crisis in a way that separates the internal reform from the internal strategicexertion so that:
-Keep Bahrain strategically under the USA grip and prevent it from converting to a part of the Iranian strategic sphere or the Shiite star crescent, which the United States fear from, warns against it, and also raise concerns of the Sunni Wahhabi Gulf from establishing it by Iran extended to Lebanon through Syria and Iraq (which is the center of the axis of resistance and opposition)
-Allows a degree of internal reforms in a way that has no effect on that function and prevents the crystallization of the rule of the majority of the population, whether the king remained or was replaced by another ruler similar to him in terms of subordination to the United States and its interests.
In conclusion we confirm that Bahrain has a particular importance in the USA strategy in all its forms, down to the present strategy of the "strategy of crisis management". An importance derived from the need of USAfor oil and the security of its main way in the Strait of Hormuz, and its need of military deployment in the Gulf to protect it as a hub to its advantage and a block to its opponents and enemies, especially to counter Iran, which refused to obey U.S. dictates in a way that seriously threatened its interests as it claims. However this importance does not mean that USA is to, for the foreseeable future, continue to support the tyrant King, rather will be as we believe open to any solution that gives the people a measure of their rights, and prevents a strategic change for Bahrain againstUSA interests in the region. Thus, we see that the chances of the people of Bahrain to achieve equality and justice as demanded today has high chances, if the public movementcontinues in its peaceful pace without falling into the trap of armed action.