- Category: Studies
17 Jun 2012
- Written by BCSL Admin
- The Gulf Example of Political Change: thethrift of sectarianism and violence in Bahrain
- 1-Models from the Arab Spring
- 2-Introduction to the protest movement in Bahrain
- 3-The beginnings of the protest movement
- 4-The position of the political societies from the protest movement
- 5-Sectarianism and the thrift of violence
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Analysis and studies on the Arabian situation agree on that the Arabian societies are societies in crisis, and its crisis is not concerning only one-dimensional rather a huge crisis on political, social and economical levels. This consensus led some parties be concerned in systems’ stability to build up and develop hypothesis of “the communities in crisis”, where these multi-level and growing crisis guarantee a stay for a longer period of time for those regimes and grant them an ability to meet the challenges and to impose their authority over the communities. Legitimacy underlying these regimes is not based on a legitimacy of democracy or political pluralism that allows a rational scale of competitiveness and explores different alternatives to solve the crisis or frankly work them out in accordance to different views and visions. The only legitimacy underlying these political entities is legitimacy of crisis and investment on social reality contradictions in favor to the regime seeking survival and continuing the flow of its metadata.
The “Arab Spring” brought these regimes into a shock and established a trembling ground beneath that sort of legitimacy. It is calling for a legitimacy which is based on a genuine democracy with a real aspiration to end the flabby political and contradictory social situations. Due to several factors, some of the Arabian uprisings were able to displace the totalitarian regimes and replace them with constitutional and democratic ones, as in what happened in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Whereas some uprisings tended to reform the structures of the already existing regimes and improve their foundations through democratic progress, reasoning their tendency to an already-existing but limited political openness previous to the start of the Arab Spring besides some internal factors that get in the way of ending a current regime and replace it with one that is more effective.
In terms of analysis, the first track is active within autocratic republican systems where it is considered as a revolution and uprising for the restoration of constitutional legitimacy after that the republican systems were turned into despotic and totalitarian regimes governed by small elite in the name of the National Party. On the other hand, the constrained and ultimate monarchies faced demands of reforms influencing structural levels of the regimes, yet without overthrowing it entirely such as in Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait.
Unnecessary to say, mutual legitimacy of crisis alongside the central despotic conditions helped some uprisings and Arab revolutions to succeed and granted legitimacy to other uprisings demanding reforms. Where most of the ruling Arabian regimes acknowledged the need to achieve political and social reforms and to provide practical solutions for the entire elevated crisis since decades ago, yet, these regimes commenced incapable to meet the requirements of reforms and that has led to the fall of some and tumble some other and has also resulted in more authoritarian and centralized decisions of some resisting regimes against any calls for reforms such as Saudi Arabia and Algeria.
One of the countries where Arab Spring has rapidly flourished in is Bahrain, where the very spark of democracy uprising started in February 2011 directly after the fall of the Egyptian regime and in conjunction with the revolution in Yemen, Libya and Syria later. The unique characteristics of Bahrain spring can be stated in several major points including:
1-Its uprising comes in the context of the continuity of political work demanding democracy, meaning that the Arab spring came in the midst of an active and effective political reform movement that managed at a time to impose on the regime to take steps in terms of political openness.
2-The territory in which the uprising has occurred is classified as a commercial territory where the government budgets are based on resources and natural rents that allow the political system in holding undeclared conventions which stands on the principal of “no taxation, no representation”.
3-It occurred in a social fabric with a sectarian divide in a much higher degree than any other Arab country.
4-The regional situation of Bahrain is a grave one particularly with opponent parties with foregoing conflicts. On one hand comes the Iranian- Saudi conflict, and there is the Iranian-American and the Qatari-Saudi conflicts. Subsequently the regional conflict circles impose its repercussions on the pattern of the policies- pursuing both for the regime and the opposition parties. This eventually leads to incapability for independence and full sovereignty in strategic decision-making policies.
5-The type of the confrontation and the amount of crackdown, which targeted the uprising, is incomparable with the repression of any other Arab uprising. As we are talking about the confrontation of six systematic, united armies in addition to intelligence forces integrated with each others in all countries of the Arabian Gulf, as well as the existence of political system that is already based on crackdown and violent suppression.
These characteristics played an impedimental role and imposed different concessions from the usual pattern of dealing with the Arab spring. Hence, the regional situation played a crucial role; the entry of Saudi troops in support of the regime to face the rebels and to suppress the uprising was too easy. And since the international situation is also extremely vital, it is easy to notice the slacken position of the United States and the European Union on putting pressure on the regime for only fear of Iran. Prior to that, its large economical capacity and its premium position amid the current economic crisis have resulted in assisting the regime to control the International decisions and removing the specter of direct intervention to impose democracy. Using the same example, we will find that the central Arab media as represented by Al-Jazeera and Al Arabiya are biased to regime’s side, which helped it imposing itself on the events coverage of the uprising.
Since February 2011, Bahrain is living below the pressure of this new Arab reality and the complexity of completing a democratic structure, which started since then. This part will study the current proceedings as change assumptions in the restricted constitutional monarchies compared to the change in the republican systems. This institutional interest will not eliminate the use and focus on the political variables in regional and local levels under the results of field studies that have been composed before the outbreak of the events.
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