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Six myths about events in Bahrain
Material posted: Pankratenko Igor N.Publication date: 08-04-2011

The tragedy of Japan and the events surrounding Libya is "scored" in the information field of what is happening in Bahrain. However, the events of the already full can not be named – after the brutal crackdown on Pearl square, mass arrests even in the hospitals, full-scale Stripping the punitive forces (including other States) and Shia parts of Sunni communities – it is possible to say that the opposition are suppressed. And these events have become history. So, it's time for analysis and conclusions.

But before starting any analysis should "clear the area", to remove the myths and fantasies that have accumulated around the opposition in Bahrain.


1. The riots started suddenly, as a result "revolutions Twitter & Facebook a"

I already repeatedly wrote that the theory of inevitability and victorious all kinds of "color", and now "T&F"-revolutions – one of the most persistent myths that are thoroughly imbedded in the public consciousness. This does not mean that technology "T&F"-revolutions does not exist. On the contrary, and technology, and the theory of such actions, moreover, deeply researched, but also constantly updated with new techniques. Another question is whether such technology is "the ultimate weapon", as we are trying to convince? Of course, no.

The scheme, which we are trying to tell in mind, the simple as boots: there is a certain "Kingdom, where all is quiet and smooth, where no wars, no disasters , no storms", everyone is happy and the only problem is only in the milk river did not come from kiselnyh banks. And suddenly (and the minds of conspiracy theorists and pseudo-experts always suggests "suddenly, out of nowhere...") under the influence of some external manipulation technologies is the coup or, worse, a "revolution".

Obviously, this opinion is most favorable to the ruling elite. In this case, the notorious "hostile forces" can be attributed all. And masterfully vague about her own managerial mistakes, greed, lack of foresight, about the policy of discrimination on ethnic or religious basis, the loss by the ruling elite of the political instinct of self-preservation.

With regard to Bahrain, where Shiites make up an estimated 65% to 75% of the indigenous population, it looks like the following:

  • of 572 government posts occupied by the Shiites 101 (18%);
  • 47 Ministerial portfolios Shia belongs 10 (21%);
  • 68 Deputy Minister of Shiites 7 (11%);
  • of the 47 assistant Ministers, Shia 10 (21%);
  • the composition of the Royal court, the national guard, national security service and intelligence service CIA (intelligence) is formed only of Sunnis(the Sunni principle only);
  • the Shiites make up only 3% of the number of members of the MUP and the army of Bahrain.

In the ministries, where restrictions on religion were less stringent (Ministry of public works and housing, Ministry of health) there are restrictions in appointing Shiites to positions[1].

And even this representation of Shia Islam perceived as a threat to the existing order and the sign "of the desire of Shiites to seize power", as stated in the report of Nizar Muhammad Saeed al-Ani "Scenarios to improve the general situation of the Sunni sect in Bahrain" , Bahrain which caused such an uproar that authorities were forced to send al-Ani in the UK.

Send they sent him to, but taken at the same time government programs "Bahrains National Youth Strategy" and "Bahrains National Employment Project" were arrangements to limit the economic opportunities for the Shiite community and to provide economic benefits to the Sunnis, until specially subprogramme financial support to young Sunnis taking to wife more than one woman.

No less dramatic looks for the Shia policy of the Royal house to promote Sunni labour migration[2]. Migrants Sunnis have priority in obtaining work in front of the local Shiites. After the scandals of 2007, which broke out as a result of the promulgation of facts of the intolerable working conditions of migrants the government has taken appropriate measures than had secured the loyalty of this category, again at the expense of the Shia community.

Sunnis also enjoy the benefits of lending private commercial projects, tax concessions and other economic preferences enshrined on the state level by relevant legal acts[3].

In my opinion it is obvious that when 75% of the population regularly exposed to all types of discrimination (political, economic, social), we don't need no Twitter, no Facebook for all of this mixture of social contradictions and injustice in a moment flashed.


2. The opposition demanded the change of form of government and the establishment of the regime of the Iranian

From the very beginning of the events of the Bahraini opposition has openly declared that does not intend to overthrow king Hamad bin ISA al Khalifa. The purpose and the main demand of the protesters is the dismissal from the post of Prime Minister of Bahrain Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa (uncle of king that position for forty years) and the entire Cabinet of Ministers. The opposition also demanded the release of political prisoners, empowering the Shiite majority, to strengthen the fight against corruption and holding of early parliamentary elections[4].

It is worth noting that the opposition demanded the legislation of reforms and introduce them in the form of articles in the Constitution of Bahrain, which gave the representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers of Bahrain is reason to say that "the opposition demanded the establishment of a constitutional monarchy"[5].

As rightly noted by a number of researchers, "In Bahrain, the Shiites make up 75% of the population and support the reforms initiated by king Hamad al-Khalifa. They prefer the political rule of the Sunni minority by the Iranian government"[6].

And here I should say that the Shiite community of Bahrain was initially linked with the current king hopes to improve its position and supported the first stage of its reform efforts. In 1999 in Shiite villages near Manama walls were covered with slogans, a few days ago, chanted the demonstrators on pearl square:

"Parliament or destruction.
Death to al-Khalifa! (he was referring to the uncle, Khalifa bin Salman)
We are not afraid of punishment!
Solution – in the Constitution!
There is no Shia and Sunni, we are all the Islamic nation!
We triumph through sacrifice!
No to humiliation!
We are not put on the knees!"[7]

Another thing is that the ruling house of Bahrain has made and is making every effort to make the requirements and sentiments of the more radical opposition, as happened in the parliamentary elections in 2010. During the elections when it became clear that the majority of the ruling Sunni coalition in Parliament after the elections is not threatened, the government announced the "disclosure" of the Shiite spy plot (of course, in favor of Iran) and almost banned the election activities of all candidates of the Bund.

Elections for the ruling coalition then ended in success. But today, that success looks differently, more resembling a Pyrrhic victory.

In short, "the Sunni ruling family al-Khalifa established an authoritarian order that excludes Shia from public life and allows to discriminate against them economically. They are more free than the Shiites of Saudi Arabia, where they constitute a clear majority, and against them are not carried out such a brutal campaign was carried out against the Shiites in Iraq. Nevertheless, whenever they tried to seek redress for discrimination through legal, peaceful and democratic mechanisms, they were thrown back against them carried out the repressions and introduced them to despair even more brutal suppression by the ruling family of the Sunni minority. /.../ Since they are the majority of society, their demands for democracy and equal opportunities are automatically interpreted by the ruling oligarchy as a threat to the existing order"[8].


3. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries came to the aid of the government of Bahrain for the protection of the law

Perhaps, most precisely similar statement commented Die Welt: "Saudi king defends his power in neighbouring Bahrain: Exactly this, trying not to let the Saudis, who preferred to occupy Bahrain to prevent the reforms required by the Shiite rebels. Because these reforms inevitably would make an impact on the Shiite minority in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, there would be the question of the legality and the credentials of the Saudi dynasty.

Saudi king somehow came to terms with the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, but tolerate this in the neighborhood he's not going. The authorities in Bahrain should continue to be Sunni autocrats. As in Saudi Arabia itself. The double standards of the Saudis is too obvious"[9].

Events in Bahrain were a direct challenge to the interests of Saudi Arabia.

  • First, in Riyadh it is considered that Bahrain is in the "zone of vital interests" of the Saudi Royal house;
  • Secondly, the example of Bahrain seems to be to Kuwait, another country under Saudi patronage. There was, however, still has its own Shia minority – about 30% of the population;
  • Thirdly, in Saudi Arabia there are also compact settlement of Shiites, and they are in the East (near rebel Bahrain) – in the oil-rich provinces.

It's important to understand quantitatively what the Shia Ummah in Petrolistan[10] (in American terminology – the Arabian Gulf) when conducting democratic procedures, that is elections to the Executive authorities, will be able seriously to influence the governments of the States Petrolistan and their foreign policy.

The question of questions for any political order – the threat is partial loss of power. And it is obvious that in feudal societies, which without any doubt is the most countries in the Gulf, attempts at any part of society (even the majority of the population) is perceived as in feudal Europe: the revolt with the threat of the ruling dynasty. In the case of such a threat is only one principle: "Monarchs of all countries, unite!" That, actually happened. The instability in the country, no law and order protects Bahrain's police contingent in the Gulf, namely the interests of the Saudi dynasty and the feudal order of things in which "one monarch – one faith – and no democracy".

In the course of recent events in the greater middle East, Saudi king has promised to cut the hands of anyone who threatens the established form of government and the existing order of things in the Bay area. The introduction of coalition troops in Bahrain and the brutal repression of the opposition – a proof that his words with deeds. Moreover – this is an illustration how to act autarky Bay in similar situations in the future.


4. The USA had towards the events in Bahrain nothing

What is the Bahrain to USA?

  • Bahrain is the base for the Fifth fleet, on an extension of the U.S. budget in 2009-2011, the company allocated $580 million[11];
  • From the territory of Bahrain is aviation and Radiolinja outside the territory of Iran;

Through the Strait of Hormuz, the key to which is Bahrain, takes place every fifth gallon world oil consumption.

The loss of control over Bahrain means a loss of control over the Strait (by the way, succumbing to the desire to equip their stay in Bahrain are most comfortable with, the authorities of Bahrain, the only Gulf country allowed the open sale of alcohol). It is an axiom.

It is from this geopolitical axiom was the cornerstone of its negotiations with the ruling house of Bahrain Robert gates arrived there on 11 March, before the entry of the police contingent of the Gulf to this country.

The details of these negotiations are unlikely to become known, unless, of course do not happen to new WikiLeaks. Moreover, we are told that gates arrived in Bahrain to persuade the ruling house to reform[12].

But the Shiites of Bahrain has rightly perceived the visit by gates as a threatening signal[13].

Exactly after this visit and the talks about reforms in Bahrain and blazed.

It seems unnecessary to repeat the obvious, but this will have to do: the U.S. has a vital interest in the stability of any ruling regime. On one condition – that the regime must prove their loyalty to USA in the respect for American interests. Then he will be forgiven any undemocratic action , up to open repression.

The old-new formula: "Name - son of a bitch, but it our son of a bitch" - that which remains unchanged when all the masters of the White House. Change only the names.


5. The events in Bahrain is Iran

Actually, on my deep belief, "the Iranian threat" quite successfully replaced in international public opinion of the Soviet threat, and its "popularity" is second only to "Islamic terrorism, as he wrote the classic, "the legendary, the mythical, and hence non-existent" al Qaeda.

Where the Shia – there are certainly "the hand of Iran," it is a stereotype. So it was with Bahrain. The Newspapers were filled with headlines, "Bahrain and the battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia"[14], "Bahrain in the flames of war between Iran and the Persian Gulf countries"[15], and so on. Well, as the Western media are the source of nutritious nectar for domestic observers, it is not surprising and enchanting the statements like this: ""Saudi Arabia has been able to localize the protests and now wants to stabilize the situation in neighboring countries. With this solidarity and other Gulf monarchies — they fear the growing influence of Iran in the region. And, of course, is an expression of solidarity with a colleague, with the king of Bahrain. This self — defense is none of the Arab monarchs would not want the Domino effect spread to their countries. Therefore elected the simplest option — full support of the Bahrain", — says Deputy General Director of the Center for political technologies Alexei Makarkin[16].

The Newspapers such statements gradually moved in performances of officials. on March 2, Hillary Clinton said, speaking in the Congress that the ruling circles of the Islamic Republic of Iran seek to strengthen its influence in the Arab States, covered by the unrest[17], specifically citing the example of Bahrain. "Iran has a clear interest in making use of the unrest in the region for their benefit and is exploring the possibility of intervention in the situation", — said the Minister of defence of the USA Robert gates[18].

The king of Bahrain Hamad al-Khalifa went further, stating that the events in the country – the result of a conspiracy. "An external conspiracy was prepared for 20-30 years, until, until the soil is ripe for it. Today I declare that these plans have failed"[19].

The origins of the Shia (and therefore to support Iran) is fairly obvious. "On the radar screens of the Western Shia first appeared in 1979, leading a bloody revolution in Iran, during which were killed thousands of people, and the Board Shah have gone down in history. In the eyes of the West, the Shiites have become the embodiment of aggressive and militant Islam seeking to export violence to other lands"[20].

But this attitude is in my opinion irrational, because it is refuted by real facts.

The Taliban created the Sunnis. They make up the core of al-Qaida, if this organization really exists. In any case, close links bin Laden to the Royal house and the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia are well documented. Sunnis dominated Saddam Hussein's regime, they appear in every message about the acts of "Islamic terrorism". All guantánamo prisoners are Sunni. These are the facts, but the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia remain cherished allies of the United States, and nothing so don't see the Shia – recorded in the category of "eternal enemies." If this is not an irrational style of thinking – I don't know what irrationality.

Iran refused to export the Islamic revolution. Moreover, initially, this export was not so much foreign stocks, how much build inside Iran the kind of society that can be accepted by Shiites around the world as a model of state and social structure. None of the Iraqi Ayatollah who returned from Iran and is the authority for the Shia of Iraq are not encouraged to adopt the Iranian form of government. No slogan Bahraini opposition (as I wrote above) is not demanded reforms in Bahrain on the Iranian model.

Moreover, it is still not presented convincing evidence that Iranian support for weapons or militants. At the surface check this information or not is confirmed (as it was with the message from Afghanistan), or is a figment of journalistic imagination (as in the case of inspection of transport aircraft in Turkey the other day).

Equally irrational approach is being demonstrated and the reports of the U.S. Department of defense to Congress on "the contours of the Iranian threat"[21]. They ascertain at least three main positions:

  • The current regime in Iran poses a threat to its own people, but to a lesser extent than the regimes of U.S. allies in the region.
  • The Iranian threat is not military in nature, as the military spending of Iran "are lower than the military spending of other countries in the region";
  • Iranian military doctrine is defensive in nature;
  • Iran has a very limited capacity to conduct military actions outside the country.

Let me stress once again that this point of view of experts of the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community.

Therefore, all the talk about the "Iranian threat" is nothing more than a propaganda myth.

However, there is some delicate point: I (along with experts from the Pentagon, funnily enough) argue that the "Iranian threat" is a myth, while others (which, by the way, the majority) – what is quite a even "objective reality". Who to believe? Oddly enough – I am not asking to believe me. I encourage you believe the figures of the budgets and of the budget spending on military spending.

The absolute leader in the region is Saudi Arabia, defense spending which in 2009 amounted to 32,654 billion, in 2002 – 18.5 billion dollars and 210,85 billion in 2002-2009 the Rate of defense spending as a percentage of GDP – 8,83% in 2009 and to 8.42% for the period 2002-2009 (one of the highest in the region).

Second place goes to Israel – 14.9 billion USD in 2009, 9,68 billion in 2002, and 95,319 billion for the entire period. The rate of defense spending as a percentage of GDP – 7,65% in 2009 and 8,01% for the entire period 2002-2009 (one of the highest in the region).

Third place in the region is Turkey – 10,883 billion in 2009, 8,033 billion in 2002 and 85,512 billion for the period 2002-2009, the Rate of defense spending as a percentage of GDP to 1.77% in 2009 and 2.34% for the period of 2002-2009.

The fourth is Iran – 7,528 billion dollars in 2009 to 3.14 billion in 2002 and 49,041 billion for the entire period. The indicator of defence spending in percentage of GDP to 2.28% in 2009 to 2.87% for the entire period 2002-2009.

Fifth place is occupied by Kuwait is 4.35 billion dollars in 2009, 3,48 billion in 2002 and 32,095 billion for the period 2002-2009, the Rate of defense spending as a percentage of GDP of 3.91% in 2009 and 5,39% for the period 2002-2009 throughout the period under review, Kuwait has consistently reduced the share of defense spending as a percentage of GDP (9,12% in 2002 to 2,69% in 2008). In 2009, Kuwait was one of the few countries that have increased military spending compared to 2008.

Sixth place is occupied by UAE – $ 6 billion in 2009, of 2.49 billion in 2002, and 30,9 billion for the period 2002-2009, the Rate of defense spending as a percentage of GDP, 2.61 per cent in 2009 and 2.48% for the period 2002-2009.

Seventh place goes to Egypt – 5,851 billion in 2009, to 2.48 billion in 2002, and 26,931 billion for the period 2002-2009, the Rate of defense spending as a percentage of GDP 3,11% in 2009 to 2.87% for the entire period 2002-2009.

More clearly the data presented in the table below[22]:


Oh, and where is the "Iranian threat"? What objective data it is confirmed? As the dynamics of military spending that Iran is ready to intervention or armed support for Shiite opposition in the Gulf?

The policy of Iran against the Gulf comes from the fact that these countries are "an area of American interests", and any action to support the opposition inside these countries may cause an acute reaction of the USA, to answer that Iran have nothing.

Concluding the discussion of this question, I want to draw attention to one fact connected with Bahrain. On March 17, after the events at pearl square, the Iranian students in Tehran held a protest in front of the Embassy of Bahrain. Extras on this promotion was made by the representative of the Association of Islamic students Syrah Sausage, which stated: "We are ready to defend Islam and the people of Bahrain from the conspiracy of the US and Zionism"[23].

For many "scientific analysts" the words of a young girl was "convincing evidence" of Iran's involvement to the events in Bahrain. Well, we can only Express our condolences to the leadership of those States where such "analysts" serve the government and give her recommendations.

6. Events in Bahrain are local in nature and are of no interest to the global community

I am far from the intention of talking about the world-historical importance of the events in Bahrain. However, their results are of some interest for some countries (in the Gulf). Moreover, I believe that under certain conditions, the situation after the events in the Gulf States can play a role in future political deals.

The main outcome of events in Bahrain is, in my opinion, the aggravation of contradictions between the Shiite majority and the Sunni ruling house. None of the social contradictions in the statements of opposition has not been resolved. Sparks long-smoldering conflict trampled, but does that mean that the eliminated source of fire?

Of course, the ruling house of al Khalifa will go to some of the reforms for removing contradictions. But now its capabilities are severely limited by the position of Saudi Arabia, which has confirmed its hegemony among the autocracies of the Gulf and that about any compromises hear now does not want. The success of the Saudis, ironically, has limited the ability of maneuver in the social field. Ease the police to address the issue of dissatisfied (especially with the Shia) deceptively attractive. There is no need for reform and dialogue within the Ummah (but we must also consider the self-perception of the Saudis as "pillars of faith" and speakers of "pure" Islam) is enough to increase funding for the army, guards and police.

In the future, this inevitably leads to radicalization of moods Shiite part of the Ummah throughout Petrolistan. Moreover, in the long term, the Gulf countries will be limited in participation in any foreign policy or military action outside the territory of the Bay. None of the monarchs would not venture to send in an expeditionary force of its forces, backed by Shiite nezamylenny community.

Lessons in Bahrain are relevant to parts of the Central Asian republics (mean countries of the former CIS), has chosen a Pro-American position as the main vector of its foreign policy. And, as for the ruling elites of these countries and for the opposition. The events in Bahrain showed the "power opportunity" for Pro-American elites of those countries hosting U.S. military bases. Washington authorize any punitive action regimes against the opposition. Moreover, these actions provide diplomatic, informational and intelligence-diversionary cover. But under one condition – if these regimes will be able to prove their value to the United States. The ideology here is not a deciding factor. The only important thing is how in geopolitical and military terms, is significant for the U.S. presence in the region. If the ruling elite will overestimate its significance as a key position – it is waiting for an unpleasant surprise, like the one that got Hosni Mubarak. In this case, American diplomacy is a worthy successor of British diplomacy and its principle of Palmerston: “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”

At the same time, the same "plug capability" is defined, and for the opposition: "you want power – prove that with it you will be more useful for US than the old regime".

I'm intentionally not going to talk about some moral and ethical content "of the lessons of Bahrain". In international relations, they do not play a noteworthy role.

The main outcome of events in Bahrain is that the Shia discontent of the current situation and the inability to change this situation peacefully are a time bomb in Petrolistan. And at the slightest hesitation political atmosphere around the Bay this mine work. And without Twitter as a detonator.

[1] Zara Al Sitari (Bahrain Center for Human Rights, October 2006)

[4] Bahrain opposition meets to agree demands (Calgary Herald, Feb. 20, 2011)

[5] Bahrain Opposition Demands Reforms (CNBC, Wed. Feb. 23, 2011)

[6] May Yamani: The Rise of Shia Petrolistan

[7] Graham E. Fuller, Rend Rahim Francke, "The Arab Shia: The Forgotten Muslims" (2000, RAND Corporation)

[8] Graham E. Fuller, Rend Rahim Francke, "The Arab Shia: The Forgotten Muslims" (2000, RAND Corporation)

[9] Die Welt: Saudi king defends his power in neighboring Bahrain (17.03.2011)

[10] "the Number of Shiites in the world currently" (

[11] US naval base in Bahrain is set for $580m upgrade (, 27 May 2010)

[12] U.S. Defense Secretary Pays Surprise Visit to Bahrain (The WALL STREET JOURNAL, March 11, 2011)

[13] Gates Visits Bahrain Amid Huge Protests (The New York Timec, March 11, 2011)

[16] op. CIT. by Gevorg mirzayan: Not all revolutions are equally useful (Expert, 18.03.2011)

[17] USA: Iran increases influence in the revolutionary countries by using Hamas and Hizbullah (, March 3, 2011)

[18] quoted by Gevorg mirzayan: Not all revolutions are equally useful (Expert, 18.03.2011)

[19] the King of Bahrain has built a conspiracy theory (Kommersant, 22.03.2011)

[20] May Yamani: The Rise of Shia Petrolistan

[21] Lieutenant General Ronald L. Burgess, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, Statement before the Committee on Armed Services, US Senate, 14 April 2010; Unclassified Report on Military Power of Iran, April 2010; John J. Kruzel, American Forces Press Service, "Report to Congress Outlines Iranian Threats," April 2010,

[22] CAMTO. Statistics and analysis of the arms markets of the Middle East (the content of the exhibition "IDEX-2011" )

Source: Igor Pankratenko

Tags: Iran , war , USA , threat , Africa

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