A Pit Stop On The Road To Democracy? Ctd


Juan Cole shifts focus to Bahrain, where anti-monarchists are taking on the rhetoric and appearance of the June 30 protestors in Egypt:

A coalition of Shiite groups and some Sunnis (the Waad or Promise Party) continues to agitate against the authoritarian practices of the Sunni monarchy. The dissidents have formed a Rebellion (Tamarrud) Movement in emulation of the one that brought down President Muhammad Morsi of Egypt, and are calling for big demonstrations on August 14.

The Bahrain regime has responded with Draconian new laws threatening to take away the citizenship of protesters and banning protests altogether in the capital. These measures are severe violations of international human rights laws. Washington has been relatively muted in its response to these violations. Bahrain hosts the HQ of the Fifth Fleet in the Gulf and its Sunni monarchy is an opponent of Iranian influence, covering a multitude of sins from the point of view of the Obama administration. Shiites are about 60% of the citizen population, but are discriminated against and many are relatively poor and powerless. The regime maintains that Shiite activists are terrorists working for Iran, but these charges are frankly ridiculous covers for a regime that practices arbitrary arrest and punishment.

Steve Coll’s chilling prediction for the region, as anti-Islamist (and anti-democratic) forces gain traction, is here. Previous Dish on the recent upheavals in the Arab world here and here.

(Photo: Bahraini protestors gather during a rally in central Manama early on July 30, 2013, to collect signatures to support ‘ Bahrain Rebellion ‘ a call going around Bahrain for a mass demonstration on August 14. By Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images)