Editorial : Bahrain: need for restraint - Friday 22nd April 2011

WITH its roots in what is basically a domestic issue, the Bahrain crisis could aggravate if regional states do not exercise restraint. The expulsion of some Iranian diplomats by Kuwait, the support which the European Union has lent to the Gulf Cooperation Council and Iran`s sharp criticism of the Bahrain government`s handling of the pro-democracy stir have served to heighten tensions. In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, the GCC and the EU called for respecting “the sovereignty of GCC member-states” and, more ominously, said the latter had the right to “take all necessary measures to protect their citizens”. At the same time, Bahrain and Kuwait government leaders have displayed considerable harshness in their diplomatic rhetoric and accused Tehran of trying to dominate the Gulf region and threatening Bahrain`s sovereignty. While the Kuwait foreign minister accused some Iranian diplomats of spying, the Bahrain foreign minister said Tehran had adopted “a sustained campaign” against the sheikhdom. Reacting to Tehran`s criticism of the Saudi-led GCC force in Bahrain he said the force was there to “deter an external threat” — a clear reference to Tehran. However, like the GCC and EU, he ignored Nato air strikes in Libya.
The pro-democracy protests in Bahrain are part of the larger freedom wave that has rocked the Arab world and seen the fall of such strongmen as Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, with Muammar Qadhafi fighting for survival. As in Yemen, Syria and Jordan, so also in Bahrain the uprising is an internal issue, and the Bahrain monarchy should try to address the cause of the stir through internal reforms. The involvement of the EU and other non-regional actors in the Bahrain situation will only aggravate the crisis, while Iran should know that an escalation of the Iran-GCC tension will divert attention away from the opposition`s just struggle for democratic reforms.

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/22/bahrain-need-for-restraint.html

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