Editorial - Bahrain tensions - Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=36346&Cat=8

Early on Monday, military vehicles without national identity marks crossed the 26-mile causeway which connects the island state of Bahrain to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They were part of a multinational Arab task force called in at the request of the Bahrain government as it struggled with a deepening crisis. Those protesting against the current regime immediately dubbed the force as ‘occupiers’ and on Tuesday afternoon, Iran issued a statement decrying ‘interference’ in the affairs of Bahrain by other Arab states. Although there are similarities between the unrest in Bahrain and elsewhere, this is at heart, a sectarian clash. The Shia majority has long resented the rule of a Sunni minority and has many grievances, but it is the interests of foreign powers in Bahrain, particularly America and Iran, which heighten concerns. The Iranians would be beneficiaries of a regime change in Bahrain and a transfer of power to the majority, and would be displeased by the presence of an intervention force. The American Fifth Fleet has its base there and the Americans would potentially be the losers if majority rule – backed and perhaps underwritten by Iran – made their massive naval facility no longer welcome.

Iran has long sought to have naval dominance of the Gulf waters, an ambition that far predates the Iranian revolution.. If America had to find another home for the fifth fleet, it would, at best, face a period when its power in the Gulf was diminished, and worse cede some of that power to Iran which could move into whatever facilities the Americans vacated. It must be assumed that the Saudis are as aware of Iranian intentions as are the Americans – whose statement on Tuesday that they were ‘unaware’ of the move of foreign forces into Bahrain rings as true as lions declaring themselves to be vegetarian all along. If they were truly as unaware as they say they were then they should be dismissing from post every signals intelligence officer in the fifth fleet. Whoever controls Bahrain controls the Gulf and the oil traffic. To the northwest is Kuwait and to the east the Straits of Hormuz through which virtually all of the oil exported from the region has to pass. The USA and its close ally Saudi Arabia are going to be anxious to hold on to their strategically vital island state, but the unrest there has already begun to seep into the Shia eastern part of Saudi Arabia. Bahrain is a hinge on which much will turn in the coming days and weeks.

No comments:

Post a Comment