Crown Prince Salman was forced to cancel Bahrain’s Formula One race because of the violent unrest that has gripped the country recently, as protestors seeks to overthrow the royal family.
However, one musn’t confuse the Bahrain riots with those taking place in places like Egypt and Tunisia. Bahrain is not another “domino stone” in the Middle East tumult but has fallen victim to Iranian subversion, according to international attorney Haggai Carmon in a fascinating piece in The Huffington Post today. As Carmon points out:
Bahrain is neither Egypt nor Tunisia where poverty and oppression sent people to the streets. Bahrain is the most liberal of the Gulf States with a per capita gross domestic product of $40,400, the world’s 19th highest, although its population numbers only 764,000, ranking the 163rd in the world.
Saddam Hussein once announced that Kuwait was the 19th province of Iraq and his army’s subsequent invasion led to the first Gulf War. Now there are official voices in Iran claiming Bahrain is the 14th Province of Iran.
Bahrain is appetizing to Iran because it’s the hub of the U.S. 5th Fleet in the Persian Gulf and of a major British fleet. It is also a major banking and trade facility for the region and it produces 40,000 barrels of oil per day.
Iran’s “veiled agenda”, Carmon suggests, is to overthrow the Sunni Muslim regime and replace it with a Shia Muslim loyal to Tehran. The circumstances seem ripe for agitation considering Bahrain’s population has a 70% Shiite majority who are underrepresented politically.
The alleged covert Iranian activities in Bahrain this week is nothing new Carmon says. Last summer the Bahrain government arrested 165 Shiites, accusing them of being a part of “a sophisticated terror group supported internationally,” that was trying to topple the regime.
In 1981 Shiites tried to overthrow Bahrain’s government and in 1995 Shiite riots erupted in Bahrain, both supported by Iran. In 1996 an Iranian diplomat connected to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards was ousted from Bahrain for “undiplomatic” activities while six individuals admitted they were trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon and received orders from Iranian intelligence. Carmon concludes:
If the Iranian plans to oust the Bahrain government and appoint a loyal head of state in his place, their multiple goals would be achieved without any military movement. The Iranians will cause the ousting of the threatening [U.S.] 5th Fleet from Manama port. They will hold a strategic point near the straits of Hormuz where 20% of the U.S oil supply passes, and they will signal to the other Gulf states with Shiite population — such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to get in line with Iran, or else.