Bahrain: Is another Iraq in the making?
Observers may recall prior to the US invasion of Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi Shiite opposition groups all of a sudden turned from political dissidents into democratic preachers.
Iraqi dissidents, who were living abroad, were able to convince western powers, particularly the US, that the Shiite population is the majority in Iraq and installing democratic principles in their country, which will automatically put them in power, will create a democratic oasis in the region. The infamous Ahmed Chalabi even lured the Bush administration into believing that the invading US troops would be accorded a warm welcome for helping Iraqis get rid of Saddam’s despotic regime and establishing a democracy. The Bush administration committed strategic mistakes in Iraq particularly in the formation of the post-Saddam government, dissolving the army and other government departments. At the end of the day, one could say the US invasion of Iraq was a failure. The overall planning was flawed and not based on solid knowledge of the Iraqi society. The US apparently overlooked two vital factors: The actual power Iraqi Sunnis possessed; and the concept of democracy as it would be practiced in the entire Middle East. Most probably, Washington listened to the Iraqi dissidents because they said exactly what it wanted to hear to justify its invasion of Iraq. However, Iraqis received the US troops with IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that maimed and murdered thousands of US soldiers; engaged the US in a prolonged war; and turned Iraq into a burning furnace. The chaotic situation in Iraq has no prospect of an end, and is obviously destined to be a massive graveyard for millions of Iraqis — Shiites and Sunnis alike. The Bahrain’s Shiite opposition groups are now doing exactly what the Iraqis once did. They visit the US and European officials and accuse the monarchy of oppression and discrimination against them. Thus, the only possible solution to their plight is a constitutional monarchy. By this way, elections could take place, and since Shiites believe they are in majority they would come to power, ultimately the island of Bahrain would be “yet another” practical democratic oasis in the gulf region that continuously inspires its population to emulate their newly established form of government.
In fact, Shiites in Iraq are not an overwhelming decisive majority. The society is comprised of other ethnic Sunni groups. But the focus is always on Sunni Arabs. Yet, they are a sizable group with familial and intermarriage relations with other Shiite Arab tribes and families. Moreover, they have extended tribal relations in all surrounding countries of Iraq. These extended tribes serve as a supporting cushion politically, economically, socially and militarily. Hence, they are not an isolated small minority group by any measure. In other words, Iraqi Sunnis are a major political force in the society and should have equal share of political power and economic wealth in order for a stable Iraq.
The same thing could be said about the composition of the population in Bahrain. There is no official account of Shiites and Sunnis as both sects are called Muslims in the census. Yet, the opposition claim that Shiites sect is in majority and call for a constitutional monarchy. But do they represent the entire population. There are Arab and non-Arab Shiites in Bahrain. The non-Arab Shiites are mostly of Persian origins and are the most active and vocal with strong affinity with Iran.
Naturally, Sunnis and Shiite Arabs would not favor a constitutional monarchy because they have extended tribes and families in other Gulf countries, specifically Saudi Arabia. On the contrary, Shiites with Persian ethnic backgrounds, who are not actually a decisive majority, would most likely favor that form of government. The reason for this diverging political attitude is due to the second factor that US planners of Iraq invasion had overlooked: a tribal exclusive practice of democracy. Apparently, a few influential US think tanks could not accept the fact that the application of “Constructive Chaos Theory” had failed in Iraq, and are still seeking to apply it in Bahrain as it is within the vital “edge” of Saudi Arabia. This edge holds the largest oil reserves in the world, and where Shiites Saudi minority lives who are believed to be influenced by subsequent events in Bahrain. Positively, those think tanks have also overlooked that if there is anything that Saudis could not ever agree more, no matter what their differences may be; it is the unity of this political structure.
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