Latifa Al-Husseini: How Many More Blows Must Bahrain's Regime Cause Itself?
2023-10-02 - 12:31 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The recent blow dealt to the Bahrain Defense Force along the southern border was not a random incident or a fleeting tragedy. It serves as a stark reminder of the years of crisis that have plagued the Kingdom of Bahrain, largely stemming from the myopic policies pursued by its rulers.
The attack on the Bahraini forces stationed at Yemen's borders raises critical questions, starting with the rationale for their presence in that region and the underlying justification for supporting coalition forces. It also underscores the ongoing internal discord within the country, which remains unaddressed, with no concerted efforts to bridge the gap between the government and its people.
When Bahrain aligned itself with Saudi Arabia and joined the coalition in its Yemeni campaign, it projected an image of unwavering resolve and military prowess, suggesting that its intervention would decisively quell "Ansar Allah's" fighters. This portrayal sharply contrasts with the Bahraini authorities' employment of the Peninsula Shield Forces in 2011 to suppress peaceful demonstrations demanding legitimate rights. Basic military logic dictates that an army unable to effectively handle domestic challenges, protestors taking to the streets and political opposition that has a broad popular base, hence asking for the Saudis' help, cannot be expected to provide meaningful support to a coalition abroad. An army incapable of being decisive internally will inevitably be incapable of engaging in wars outside the country and achieving any victory. Years of involvement in the Yemen conflict have failed to yield any heroic victories.
In both cases, Bahrain's involvement in Yemen and Saudi Arabia's interference in Bahrain have produced no tangible results. Furthermore, the continued presence of the Peninsula Shield Forces within Bahrain appears devoid of purpose. While their numbers are estimated at 1,000, they seem to have no substantial duties beyond rotations and shifts. They are not deployed to confront protesters on the ground, yet the financial burden of maintaining them is covered.
The authorities are well aware of this situation but persist in deploying their personnel to the southern border, essentially risking their lives as prime targets. These soldiers, numbering no more than a hundred, are carefully selected by Bahrain, isolated from Shiite communities, homogenized as Sunni loyalists, and steeped in a rigid ideology that reflects the pursuit of power. It is worth remembering that members of the Bahraini army have participated in the ranks of terrorist organizations like ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Some believe that the Bahraini regime retains its defense force personnel in the southern border region for personal gain, channeling Saudi support funds into the coffers of the king and his family. The king and his family are the primary beneficiary of the substantial sums allocated under the guise of supporting these forces within the Ministry of Defense's budget (a classified item).
Bahrain's ongoing predicament is largely the result of ill-considered choices. It aspires to project itself as a regional power but has brought foreign troops onto its soil, effectively transforming it into a military colony under external control, with American forces, the British navy, the Saudi army, and now Israeli intelligence exerting influence.
Bahrain's current governance is primarily based on the security aspect. The presence of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and the British Royal Forces at the Juffair naval base, along with the Peninsula Shield forces stationed in the country and abusing it, has become a permanent fixture. There is also the Mossad's increased activity since the normalization in 2020. All of this is not driven by affection for the king, his leadership style, or wit. Instead, it is the geopolitical proximity of the smallest of the Gulf countries to Iran, which positions Bahrain as a strategic place for the United States, the Zionists, and their allies. Iran's hostility brings them closer to Bahrain, wreaking havoc there, and exploiting the tiny island at their convenience with a green light from the ruling Al Khalifa family.
This growing alignment with Bahrain's rulers and foreign powers has led to a widening gap between the regime and the local population. The nation has adopted an excessive security-centric approach, prioritizing international interests and a personal royal agenda over the welfare of the homeland and its citizens. Consequently, the country's political, economic, and social conditions continue to deteriorate. The ruling regime persistently favors Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Zionists, without addressing past mistakes in neglecting the needs of Bahrainis and favoring foreigners over them.
The government's agenda lacks a comprehensive reform strategy, focusing instead on superficial displays of loyalty, such as extravagant celebrations of Saudi National Day. This raises the question of whether Bahrain is merely vying to be the most loyal supporter of Saudi Arabia among Gulf stats, and Bahrain may even go so far as to "dye the country green" in a bid to prove its unwavering allegiance to Riyadh.
It is crucial to ask when this cycle of irrational priorities will cease. When will Bahrain disengage from regional conflicts and futile confrontations and redirect its efforts toward nation-building? Has the government not learned from its past mishandling of democratic demands? When will Bahrain realize it is time to address its internal conflicts and prioritize the development of the nation.