Alwaght- The Bahraini crisis that started in mid-February 2011 following a thorough popular uprising so far has gone through a series of stages as it went ahead, all showing the changing nature of this country’s developments.
It so far advanced to four major stages, now it is living its fourth one. The first one was an initial and limited popular revolt that was faced with Manama regime's heavy crackdown that resulted to its expansion rather than its end. The second stage saw expansion of the popular uprising and at the same time broadening the range of demands of the opposition groups, even to the degree of calling for a regime change. This stage lingered up to mid-March 2011. The third one ushered after Bahraini regime started cracking down he opposition groups across the country on the strength of support from foreign sides, particularly Saudi Arabia. The third stage, which lasted almost a year, witnessed holding a series of fruitless talks between the opposition and the ruling Al Khalifa regime. Failure in finding settlement made the things go back to square one, with the government renewing its wide-ranging clampdown against the revolutionary forces. The last phase that has begun since mid-2012 and continued up to now moved toward an erosive process as the Al Khalifa at the same time went on with its comprehensive crackdown measures that included summoning Sheikh Isa Qassim, the country’s top Shiite cleric and the revolution’s spiritual leader, for investigation and stripping him of his citizenship.
Throughout all these stages, the Bahraini government’s predominant end was to preclude the political Shiite forces from entering the country’s governance and power structures. This end has been pursued through three key ways:
The first one was the government's making accusations against the opposition groups along with highlighting their efforts for regime removal and so arguing that the repressive measures were legal and justified.
The second tactic was to label the popular demands as sectarian struggles and concluding that they must be confronted.
And the third one was regime's endeavor to attribute the popular uprising foreign powers, Islamic Republic of Iran in particular, and thus justify clamp down against dissent.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, a staunch backer of the Bahraini rulers, has attempted to block the way of any reforms and political transformations in Bahrain. Riyadh highlighted the three tactics developed by the Bahraini government in a bid to mobilize regional and international sources to garner backing for the Al Khalifa. It has managed considerably to achieve its Bahrain-related goals.
Despite opposition to the crackdown policy and a willingness to see a degree of stabilizing reforms to step out of the crisis, the US has played in the Saudi ground to save Al Khalifa government and relax its worries about influence of crisis on its sea base in Bahrain which hosts its fifth fleet. In fact, these factors keep Washington from proposing an alternative choice.
Meanwhile, there is some tendency by some sides in the Bahraini government's leadership, like the crown prince, to negotiate with the opposition to put an end to the crisis. But the dominant Saudi approach which is implemented by the Saudi-backed Bahraini prime minister has practically prevented the Bahraini government’s pro-dialogue sides from advancing for a solution.
Meanwhile, as international community is turning a blind eye to the Al Khalifa’s predominantly violent measures against the peaceful protests, Manama has prosecuted the opposition leaders. It seeks detaining the influential heads of the protest movement so that first crack the opposition's social body and then destroy its organization and consistency of actions. The Al Khalifa regime, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other Persian Gulf Arab states, and to some extent the US, have backed these measures.
It is noteworthy that this approach has been leading since eruption of the crisis in the tiny island, and no other initiatives have changed it yet.
All these developments happen while the Arab and Western media bar any opposition has prevented Bahraini people's voices from being heard by the world. Human rights organizations' outcries have so far gone nowhere.
Although Al Khalifa's clampdown has so far delayed success of the revolutionaries, it should not be forgotten that the Bahraini uprising still holds its structural elements of a real revolution like a maximum level of popular discontent, massive participation in anti-government protests, continuation of the demonstrations, and having wise leaders like Sheikh Isa Qassim and Sheikh Ali Salman. Should it use other revolutions' successful procedures, it will obtain its final goal. Working toward this end requires domestic opposition unity and solidarity of the regional resistant forces with the Bahraini revolutionaries.