What lies behind Bahrain’s latest opposition crackdown?
The story of Bahrain‘s 14 February uprising in 2011 can be told in four broad chapters:
- Mass demonstrations and failed negotiations
- A bloody government crackdown
- A perfunctory attempt at reconciliation and dialogue
- Political stalemate born of royal infighting and sectarian polarisation.
That stalemate arguably ended with the government’s decision to revoke the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the kingdom’s most prominent Shia Muslim cleric and spiritual inspiration behind the main opposition bloc Wefaq.
The move is but the coup de grace in a series of recent crackdowns on dissent.
These included the re-arrest of outspoken government critic Nabeel Rajab and a travel ban on activists planning to attend this month’s UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The government has also imposed an extended nine-year prison sentence for Wefaq’s longstanding secretary-general Sheikh Ali Salman, introduced a new law barring religious leaders from membership in political societies, and has enforced the wholesale suspension of Wefaq’s activities.
On the face of it, such decisions would seem to point to an emboldened regime finally willing to throw off the pretence of entertaining serious reform – one confident in its ability to handle the inevitable domestic and international fallout of redoubled political repression.
And, on the diplomatic front at least, such a conclusion is undoubtedly correct. Since Wefaq’s boycott of 2014 parliamentary elections in protest at a lack of meaningful concessions by the state, its one-time interlocutors at the US and British embassies have all but shunned the group.
The UK Foreign Office in particular has communicated bluntly that the opposition made its own bed by refusing to participate within the existing political framework, however flawed, and now will have to sleep in it.
see the last paragraph i highlighted..now we know who is complicit..
ahh democracy..alive and well in western backed sunni nations..