- A reflection of the Syrian crisis on the Bahraini case
- 1. The link between the Syrian and Bahraini fronts
- 2. How the results of the confrontation in Syria will be reflected on Bahrain
- 3. The Syrian steadfastness reflection on Bahrain
- 4. Compatibility in Syria hypothesis for a settlement saving everyone
- 5. The hypothesis of the failure of the Syrian regime in facing the aggression put against it
The monarchy in Bahrain had bet on the GCC and western support for its position and location, and it dwelled in the procrastination, delay and repression to put an end to the demand movement launched by the Bahraini people. The movement in Bahrain was launched in conjunction with that experienced in the Arab arenas of popular movements began with the beginning of the year 2011 for freedom, justice, equality and respect for the rights of human and citizenship that were taken forcefully by regimes mastered oppression, exclusion, discrimination and monopolizing the country’s wealth with total dependence on the west.
However, the Arab popular movements were not alike in their nature, connections and mechanism in the fields that have experienced popular waves of demands. Even though the common factor among these movements was alike, they diverged in their nature and their tracks, which led to a difference in their characterization.
Contrary to what the west called these movements “Arab Spring”, the Yards of this or that country devoid of flowers and promising fruits where they turned into battlefields and faced great fire and ash and reeks of blood to the extent that it could be described as a massive fire and not a spring.
We say fire, even though some arenas are still witnessing high popular awareness that prevents the fire from moving into its fields and keep moving in a peaceful and civilized manner as in the Bahraini case so far. Whereas the monarchy strains especially after bringing in the Peninsula Shield Forces – formed in most its shape of Saudi forces- to provoke the popular crowds in the streets who are exercising their legitimate right to demonstrate and claiming their rights of citizenship, in a provoking way to lure people to the cycle of violence and portray the conflict as sectarian backed with foreign agenda. All in order to permit itself to step up the repression and resort to using new weapons in confrontation exceeding toxic gases, rubber bullets and shotgun shells used so far with no true and real justification.
But Bahraini people and its wise and far-sighted leadership discrete not fall into the regime’s trap and succeeded to maintain a peaceful move despite all the arts of provocation, aggression, repression and torture. Now, with this scene of people moving peacefully, and regime that has halt its ears and opened its fire of suppression, a question arises, when this popular tragedy will end? And how?
Searching for an answer to this question might be possible reviewing the circumstances and the balance of powers as well as the potentials of the opposing parties in Bahrain – a logic normal sense. Nevertheless, the standing regional and international position foretells something else, as Bahrain and despite its limited size of land and people (not exceeding one million people), possesses the characteristics and advantages of strategic content and influence in the region’s movement and the needs of the regional and international players. That is what makes it a regional-international affair than just a local and national confrontation between the people and the regime, especially when the results of this confrontation between the two sides will affect – or so it is believed – in the interests of those players. For this reason, the search in the confrontation in Bahrain imposes a study in the entire current regional and international environment formed. And here we enter in bold to the Syrian arena and the its current ongoing crisis where there are international confrontation between the two main axes today, each affected with and affecting what is happening in the Bahraini scene too.
In this paper we will try to search in the link between what is happening in Syria and what is happening in Bahrain, to end up to determine the reflection of the results of the confrontation in Syria on the conflict in Bahrain. Moreover, we are to stand at the available possibilities to the people of Bahrain to activate the positives of confrontation and narrowing the drawbacks to the popular demands.
1. The link between the Syrian and Bahraini fronts
In analyzing the reality of the Syrian and Bahraini arenas, the similarities could be determined to a large extent on the issue of forces involved or concerned directly or indirectly by the conflict, as and in the sectarian characterization which a specific regional-international party tries to launch on the conflict in both arenas.
A. Forces involved in confrontation of the Bahraini and Syrian fronts
After more than 30 months of the start of the Arab popular movement in first2 (2. We consider that the Arab movement has launched a new wave began in Egypt on 30th of June 2013, and led to the overthrow of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, and there are countries preparing to receive the second wave now), and after a month of the Egyptian move against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in second, it is possible to identify through a careful review of the opposing forces in the region, the involvement between parties directly or indirectly concerned in the Bahraini situation, and between observers or participants in the ongoing situation in the Syrian ground, according to the following:
Forces that support the King of Bahrain and the Syrian opposition together
These are the forces that work to maintain the king in his throne forming a regional-international front appearing in the Syrian front promoting what is called the Syrian opposition and support the anti-Syrian regime. This front also works to provide assistance and help in all possible means to bring down the Syrian regime or at least disable its strategic location for breaking the cohesive existence of the resistance axis.
What drives these forces in support of the tyrant king in Bahrain and support the so-called “Syrian opposition” at the same time is not the issue of democracy, freedom and human rights – as claimed by those foreign powers to justify its assistance to the Syrian opposition – but, is its self-interest that is unrelated to the interests of the Syrian people where it does not show any attention to the rights of the Bahraini people there. Those forces that support the absolute monarchy in Bahrain and are against the secular regime in Syria fall as following:
- The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) headed by Saudi Arabia, where the members of this Council see that the issue of Bahrain and the continuation of its absolute monarchy is an internal matter for each country of them – especially Saudi Arabia3 (3. See our study on Saudi Intervention in Bahrain, presented at a conference held in Beirut in March 2013)– due to its impact on the political situation in it. While these countries in the GCC believe that the continuation of the existing regime in Syria coupled with the regional variables, especially in Iraq and Lebanon have become a serious threat to the regional influence of Saudi Arabia and in the Arab world and regional on strategic levels, and even a threat to the existing hereditary regime in those countries. And here we note an increase of the level of Saudi interference in the Syrian situation after the decline of the Qatari and Turkish interference. This is now how Saudi Arabia became a spearhead against the regime in Syria, and the people in Bahrain.
- The Atlantic Forces headed by the United States (and Israel too) which are forces struggling to bring about change in Syria in order to break down Syria from the axis of resistance or to disrupt its role in it. It at the same time rejects any fundamental change in Bahrain leads the country towards actual independence and true democracy to anchored the people’s right to rule, because that will lead to the reduction of the strategic work Bahrain performs by now in favour of the West especially the United States. Bahrain has the lead U.S. Fifth Fleet stationed in it with the necessary surveillance and spying platforms in the gulf that covers the entire region, and particularly Iran.
- As for Turkey, which had entirely engaged in the aggression against Syria as its government – government of the Justice and Development – belong to the Global Muslim Brotherhood Organization seeking to establish a “crescent rule of the Muslim Brotherhood” from Tunisia to Syria, passing through all of Libya, Egypt and Jordan, has been watching Bahrain with half interest in comparison to the countries mentioned earlier with no direct of more than support to the king of Bahrain.
The forces that support the demands of the Bahraini people
are the countries and international organizations and bodies stood by the Bahraini people and supported the demands as demands of right and freedom, and an effort to establish social justice and establish the concepts of full and equal citizenship. These forces have seen that what is happening on Syria is nothing but an external aggression that has no place in it for the interests of the Syrian people who still in majority supports the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Therefore, these forces found themselves supporting the regime in Syria as it does resist Israel, reject subordination and dependence on the West, works to maintain the independence of Syria, and save any other form of sovereignty works for the benefit of the Syrian people and their national rights on the one hand, and provides support for resistance movements against Israel on the other hand. Forces fall under this are:
- Iran, which is showing an interest and moral and media support and to the Bahraini people without exceeding that so far considering that the popular movement Bahraini remained peaceful. But Iran’s role in the Syrian case went further than that, because it considers that Syria is exposed to external aggression targeting the resistance and its axis, therefore, sees itself in Syria in self-defence position and in a fight for the axis of resistance.
- Hezbollah in Lebanon, which shows interest in Bahrain at moral and media levels, also supports moves by human rights organizations and bodies in support of the Bahraini people against the authoritarian repression induced over them. Yet, the role of Hezbollah in Syria exceeded the limit of just supporting and endorsing the Syrian regime and went down to the field work under the title of defence of the resistance and its supplying lines.
- Iraq, which has a certain characteristic being still under the pressure of terrorism, induced by the occupation, yet, shows constrained support to the Bahraini popular movement coupled with a call for dialogue between the authorities and the people. That is in order to achieve the popular demands of the people but it still does not take any provoking positions against the king even though it positions are more likely in favour to the people. As for its position in Syria it seems more pronounced in its opposition to the terrorist acts which are taking place on the ground, specially al-Qaeda and Al Nasrah Front and what is affiliated with them from organizations working to establish “an Islamic state in northern Syria” after it announced the so-called “Islamic State in Iraq, and the Levant”.
- The popular Arab and Islamic democratic forces and some international human rights bodies that represent an important media platform to shed light on the regime’s crimes and help in the formation of international public opinion to support the Bahraini movement. Whereas, in the Syrian case they play a limited role so far due to lack of international agreement on the characterization of what is happening in Syrian, whether it is a revolution or opposition or external aggression, as well as the loud voice of fire that high over any other consideration.
- Remains some international powers that show high interest in the Syrian case making them organized in an international front to prevent foreign aggression on Syria, and prevent recurrence of the Libyan situation and the western Atlantic attack on it. while the same forces do not show same interest in the Bahraini affair, even though some show apparent sympathy with the Bahraini popular demands, and wish the people could reach to something of their rights. Comes at the forefront of these forces, Russia and China and to some extent what remained of the BRICS.
Promoting sectarian conflict in Bahrain and Syria
In a quick look on the map of the forces involved in the conflict in Syria, and interested in affairs of Bahrain we get to draw another picture of the map added to the foregoing political picture here, we find that the of sectarian group that mostly is in favour of the king of Bahrain and in support of the anti-Syrian regime are Sunni Muslims backed by the West Atlantic. Whereas the opposing group are mostly Shiites Muslims, and this is exploited by the body sponsoring the king of Bahrain and the anti-Syrian regime to call the conflict in both countries as a conflict between Sunnis and Shiites, which is contrary to reality.
Furthermore, supporters for Syria are mainly from the Sunni Syrians forming the majority in Syria in accordance with the demographic of the Syrian people (65% are Sunni where, Alawis and Shiites do not exceed 13%). Moreover, the support received by Syria from Iran and Hezbollah is not the only external support where role of Russia and China is not superficial and marginal, and everyone knows that this intervention translated in the start of the UN Security Council after 6 months on the outbreak of events in Syria in 2011 led to the preparation to the birth of a new world order that puts an end to the American dream of the establishment of unilateral polarity in the world. Despite these facts, the components of Islamic non-shiite political bodies (movements of Wahhabi and the Muslim Brotherhood) insist on the describing the conflict in Syria as sectarian and that is “the Sunnis revolution against the minority Alawi rule incubated by Shiites in Iran and Lebanon in particular and of the Shiites in other regional countries in general.
As for Bahrain, the picture is reversed where people are in majority of Shiite Muslims (more than 65%), and since what happened in Bahrain was a popular overwhelming uprising – and is responsive to the logic of popular revolutions – it is natural to have the majority opposition engaged in the revolution of Shiite Muslims. Moreover, this yet, does not mean that the Sunni Bahrainis are not engaged in the ongoing protest movement since February 14, 2011, but accounted for a disproportionate percentage of the sum of the Bahraini people. In addition to the reason for this returns to the presence of concubine segments see in the establishment of justice and equality among citizens, a negative impact on their interests and decrease the size of their privileges in the state after they are now looking at these privileges as acquired rights, despite violating the rules of justice and equality in citizenship.
We believe that the move in Bahrain is not a Shiite uprising against the Sunnis on sectarian conflict basis, but an uprising of an aggrieved citizen with detracted citizenship rights against a regime that has usurp his rights and established a system of discrimination on a sectarian basis in order to protect his property. we must also pay attention to the king Bahrain who does not support his reign with Islam on the Sunni doctrine, but resides autocratic reign based on a mixture of self-based rules and governance, with the adoption of the rules of Islam to an extent not going inconsistent with his individual absolute style of rule and then holed thought of the Wahhabi in order to protect his throne.
As for Syria, it operates a secular system of government that respects religion and is committed to the basis of equality between citizens with no discrimination on basis of race, religion or ideology. Contrary to what is the case in Bahrain where the regime established two classes: first class is concubine and consists of a narrow circle of Sunnis who have all the rights, second class is the Shiites and with them the rest of the Sunnis who are all oppressed and are the disadvantaged class who emerged in a movement against the monarchy demanding justice, and who did not engaged in any movement against Sunnis and their beliefs.
Despite all of the above facts confirmed by the reality, the force sponsoring the king of Bahrain and the anti-Syrian regime insists that the conflict in these two countries is nothing but a Sunni-Shiite struggle. And then adds some other description to call it as an Arabic-Persian conflict exist in its forefront the Sunni Saudi Sunnis and the Shiite Iran. Even though we do not agree with this description because it is a falsification of the truth, yet, we see that it must be dealt with in order to understand how the other behaves towards these issues.
- Results… After this presentation, we can stand on the link between what is happening in Syria and what is happening in Bahrain from the perspective of those concerned and interested in both matters, despite the disparity in the degree of interest among this front and that. As well as the level and style of the means used to intervene and prepare to receive the outcomes and reflections of the results on one and another. We find that both fronts are riven by a conflict forces involved insist to describe as:
- Sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites, reminding us of the American plan after the famous deal with the Muslim Brotherhood, which adopts the parenthesis conflict: Sunni and Shiite.
- Regional conflict between the two international axes, Western US-led with a regional base, and regional led by Iran in Bahrain, and Russia who joins it to top the scene in the Syrian file.
And since that the main battle is now in Syria, we can logically say that what will Syria end up with, will affect Bahrain in one way or another. It will also draw the course of events where it can be said simply that so you know what it will happen in Bahrain one should monitor what is happening in the entire region where it ignites with the fire of the Arab in general. Then what confrontation in Syria devolves to, in particular, or takes in the course of events and in both the field and politics as long as the external components of the conflict here and there are the same.
2. How the results of the confrontation in Syria will be reflected on Bahrain
Based on our conviction that what will the crisis in Syria reach to will rebound on Bahrain either positively or negatively, we are looking at three basic hypotheses that we could face in Syria: the first is that Syria and its allies will be able to withstand defensively and prevent the aggression from achieving its goals. The second is that the conflicting powers get convinced on the hardship of the field control and accept a political settlement. While the third is represented by the Western-regional attack ability to achieve its goals and prevent the regime from continuing, without excluding the possibility of the two parties not reaching to any resolution of the conflict and refusing a political solution, all leading to an ongoing confrontation in the field for several years. The worst-case scenario at all!
Discussing these hypotheses we are looking at the fate of the situation in Bahrain and the path of its revolution in the light of the first three hypotheses, but the fourth, we and despite its seriousness, we skip discussing it now, then the interests of Bahrain is determined as in separating its issue from the Syrian issue in any way.
3. The Syrian steadfastness reflection on Bahrain
Proceeding of the image formed on the ground now, the survival of the Syrian regime assumption to hold and prevent the aggression from achieving its goals, looks like the front-chance assumption. It is worth mentioning that the military actions made by the armed troops from the inside or whom have entered Syria from the four borders under calls of Jihad and assistance are acts –despite their great level of atrocity- unable to overthrown the regime. Nevertheless, those sympathized with what they called revolution two years ago began to lose their sympathy after witnessing the extent of brutality and backwardness of those armed troops on the one hand, and the severity of the external dimension in the movement.
Whereas most Syrians have woken up to the reality where they saw what is happening to their country is nothing but an act of external aggression not in their interest. Even if the movement so-called revolution succeeded, they will enter a new era with a regime controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood whom was knocked off by the Egyptian people. Or as the family hereditary regimes like the Wahhabi in the GCC, whom anointed the national identity ruling it as family business as is the case in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, these armed movements are widely rejected by the majority of the Syrian people and they do not have a reliable chance to overthrow the regime or achieve the aggression goals.
And now, after the volatility of the aggression on Syria since two and a half years in several stages, and its continuous failures, we note that the USA and before the announcement of its desperation to achieve what it wants, and with some of the parties volunteered in Saudi Arabia to take over it and achieve the desired rags. We also see that the war in Syria entered a new phase can be termed as “the Saudi phase” coincided with the dwarfing of the role of Qatar and Turkey, and Egypt preoccupation after dropping the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. We see that the Muslim Brotherhood is coming to ebb and will not find a space of time or the amount of effort for Bahrain in retaliation for its loss. While a Wahhabi Saudi stream will come in its place, which took over the Syrian file under U.S. command. This means that Saudi Arabia is now the major Arab-regional player in Bahrain and in Syria alike, where Saudi Arabia is now at the forefront of the aggressive scene against the regime in Syria, and against the people in Bahrain facing in one way or another the international parties who support these two parties as well.
On the other hand, and with the hypothesis of the steadfastness of the Syrian regime and Saudi Arabia failure like other parties and stages of the aggression against Syria failed and ended, will rebound negatively on Saudi Arabia itself and explode an inside dispute between its parties associated with confusion and disorder imposes a regional decline. Saudi’s role in Bahrain will be the first drawback of this failure, which will benefit the rebellious Bahraini people in putting more pressure on the king, who will find no escape from the response to a large part of the popular demands.
We say part of the demands and not all the demands that we here cannot forget the American role and the red lines set by the United States for change in terms of retaining the general Bahraini framework that saves its own strategic interests in the Gulf. Here we believe that this loss will be translated in Bahrain as a solution on the Qatari style, with the renewal of the monarchy led by the Crown Prince launched under the American auspices. That is to response to a part of the popular demands, which will calm down the street after that the Bahraini movement leaders will think of it as a victorious progress on the road to freedom, equality and the rule of law.
Finally, we should not neglect that with a Syrian victory it is likely for Saudi to react in case of failing in Syria, the kingdom will see itself isolated after losing its regional bets as in Iraq, Syria, and hardly getting anything out of Lebanon. As a result, Saudi will move forward to take a more militant stance in Bahrain to prevent the king from taking any measure of response to the reforms and people here will find themselves rebel harder against injustice and further its moves and confrontation to break this decision.
In a way that America cannot keep away from the intervention in order to restore stability to Bahrain that is needed for maintaining its interests. Here, we believe that Saudi Arabia will not be able to prevent a change in a reasonable extent, because it will not be the only player in the wave of influence hitting the region and will have to wait for undesirable foreign interventions after the loss and the expected defeat in Syria.
4. Compatibility in Syria hypothesis for a settlement saving everyone
This hypothesis cannot be excluded even though the currently formed conditions appearing in the horizon make it a low-premise hypothesis. Whereas, reaching up to that stage shall be after a conviction with the aggressor on Syria that its victory is impossible, and that its interests are in a settlement that saves some of its interests for fear of the collapse of everything if the hypothesis came real as in the survival and victory of the Syrian regime.
The mechanism for this hypothesis to come real is through activating the call to the Geneva Conference 2 on Syria, and the participation of actors from both fronts in this conference, where participants like Iran and Saudi with attend in a way or another, as well as the basic international forces that participated in the Geneva 1. We believe that the success of the settlement in Geneva will not be limited to only Syria, but it will include hot spots in the region as a whole and in the forefront comes Bahrain.
In our opinion, a settlement in Bahrain here will be a kind of balance between the demands of the opposition and the interests of the monarchy, and the opposition share shall be proportional to a large extent with its status, strength and cohesion during settlement negotiations. That is in terms of the continuation of the protest movement in the fields and streets, with a commitment of the peaceful revolution. This peacefulness, which is now erupted the regime’s rage and anger pushing it to persist in fabrication to accuse the opposition by terrorist acts across the manufacturing of explosives and car bombs4 (4. As did in July 2013 when placing a car and detonated it in an area close to Sunni mosque and accused the opposition, even though the opposition has denied and condemned this style of work announcing its adherence to peaceful work and refrain from violence), in order to fabricate pretexts to upgrade the ladder of excessive violence against the opposition after that the toxic gases, could not put an end to the opposition’s patience and durability.
5. The hypothesis of the failure of the Syrian regime in facing the aggression put against it
Although this hypothesis is considered the least possible in our opinion, it remains a useful discussion to find out what could be its results and reflection on Bahrain. In this context, we believe that the inability of the Syrian regime from continuing the confrontation does not mean the victory of the front of the aggression and the possibility of establishing the desirable alternative regime. In the sense what might be called an American sweep of the area in a way that will benefit those parties affiliated to America in its aggression to achieve its interests in Syria and abroad. Yet, what is likely to occur if this hypothesis come into reality is the inability to establish a central alternative Syrian regime, push Syria toward dispersion with the spread of chaos in the region where Saudi Arabia will not be immune to it.
The reflection of this hypothesis on Bahrain may be positive to some extent for two reasons, first linked to Iran, which believes that its interests require it to intervene in any spot available to do so, and then find itself obliged to push Bahrain towards a settlement that achieves a measure of the opposition’s demands and prevents the loss of its movement. Second will be linked to America whom shall be concerned about chaos permeating the Gulf similar to what surrounds them, and Saudi will not be at the site of force pushing the plaguing chaos in the region far from its territory. Therefore, it is believed here that the government in Bahrain with an American support will establish an initiative to respond in a limited way to some of the popular demands that does not affect the position of the King and his powers, but narrowing the gap between the regime and the rebellious citizens taking Bahrain –in case the opposition was satisfied- to avoid the chaos in the region.
We believe that the best benefit for Bahrain and the People’s Movement is in separating what is happening in Bahrain from what is going on around it and prevent the establishment of any link to any front or field in the region. Nevertheless, this is no more than a unrealistic and inapplicable wish. Therefore, there is no escape from stressing that the events of the Arab world in countries that have experienced popular movements, showed a correlation especially in terms of stated goals rejecting authoritarian regimes based on the looting of the rights of citizens with exclusion and marginalization.
Yet, the harmonies or the contrast between some moves intensifies or strengthens among this group or that while we closely intertwined between what happened in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria when Muslim Brotherhood as a global organization made a deal with the West in order to gain power for the Muslim Brotherhood, the dominance of the United States and the security for Israel. We do find that the correlation existed between what is happening in Syria and what is happening in Bahrain in matters of external forces involved in each of the two countries and comes here, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Hezbollah in the forefront of those forces, where a victory here would naturally affect the other country either as a development toward victory too or vice versa.
The Bahraini opposition and its behaviour during the period that separates us from the end of the fighting in Syria -and is for quite some time, which may extend for a period of the least six months to years from now- should be focused on two aspects: the continuation of the popular movement first, and maintain a peaceful movement second. With those two things we believe that this movement will bring about a large part of its goals despite the enforced linkage to what is happening in Syria, where to resolve the crisis in Bahrain before the Syrian formed today actually remains elusive.
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