World View: Iran Threatens Coup After Bahrain Revokes Citizenship of Shia Cleric

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Iran threatens coup after Bahrain revokes citizenship of Shia cleric
  • Iran reacts to a series of repeated anti-Shia moves by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

Iran threatens coup after Bahrain revokes citizenship of Shia cleric

Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain, after March 15 2011 protests. The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.
Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain, after March 15 2011 protests. The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.

Bahrain has revoked the citizenship of the kingdom’s most prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim, accusing him of promoting “sectarianism and violence.”

Bahrain’s population is 2/3 Shia Muslim, but the country is led by an oppressive Sunni government closely allied with Saudi Arabia. In the days following the “Arab Spring” protests in 2011, Bahrain’s security services overreacted with extremely violent and bloody massacres of unarmed protesters, backed up by troops from Saudi Arabia. The protests began in Bahrain on February 14, 2011. Dozens of protesters were killed, over 1,600 were arrested, and thousands were injured.

According to a statement issued by Bahrain’s government on Monday:

Accordingly, the citizenship of Isa Ahmed Qasim has been revoked. Ever since he received the Bahraini nationality, Qasim has established organizations that follow an external religious political authority, played a major role in creating an extremist sectarian environment and worked on dividing the society alongside sects and in accordance with subordination to his orders.

Qasim has also adopted theocracy and emphasized on the absolute allegiance to the Religious Clerics. Through his sermons and “fatwas”, he exploited the religious pulpit for political purposes to serve foreign interests. He also encouraged sectarianism and violence. Qasim has kept his decisions and positions, which he dictated as religious rituals, dependent on his continuous communication with hostile foreign organizations and parties. In addition, Qasim collected funds without complying with the provisions of the law.

On several occasions, Isa Qasim has violated the supremacy of the law by issuing edicts (fatwas) that affected the elections and its processes. He influenced voters’ decisions using religious sentiments. This extends to all aspects of public affairs, undermining the rights of the people and the rule of law. He also rallied many groups to prevent the issuance of the second section of the Family Law (Jafari Section).

The phrase “to serve foreign interests” presumably refers to Iran and Hezbollah. Although the 2011 protests were finally put down by massacring the protesters, there have been sporadic protests since then, and the Bahrain government evidently is afraid of a repeat of 2011’s full scale anti-Sunni riots.

The government of Iran, which is an equally bloody regime that massacres innocent protesters, issued a statement criticizing the revoking of Qasim’s citizenship, and appeared to threaten Bahrain’s government with a coup. The statement begins by reciting crimes of Bahrain’s regime, the same crimes that Iran’s regime regularly commits:

The oppressed Muslim nation of Bahrain had been under the cruel, biased, unfair, and illegitimate regime of Al-Khalifa for long years. Despite furious acts which included unashamedly racist discrimination, arrest of their religious leaders, imprisoning and torturing women and children, stripping citizenship, violation of their rights without any qualms and several other crimes, this patient people have exercised patience; tightening the pressures has never distracted Bahraini people of their non-violent approach. …

Seemingly, the Al-Khalifa regime has underestimated and misinterpreted the scope and magnitude of the public wrath; encroachment of the religious leader’s rights is definitely a sure redline for the public the crossing of which would set the region ablaze, leaving no alternative than resorting to armed resistance.

The consequences of the possible conflict would be beyond estimation and would rewrite the history through toppling the despotic regime. The supporters of the regime in Manama should accept responsibility for legitimizing the brazen rulers of Bahrain for any bloody confrontation.

The last sentence can and will be interpreted as encouraging a coup in Bahrain, and suggests that Iran would support a coup.

Iran’s puppet terror organization, Lebanon-based Hezbollah, issued its own threatening statement, criticizing Bahrain’s action, and “[calling] on the Bahrainis to decisively express their rage and discontent in face of the regime’s action against Sheikh Qasim.” Bahrain News Agency and BBC and Mehr News (Tehran) and Al Manar (Beirut-Hezbollah)

Iran reacts to a series of repeated anti-Shia moves by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

Normally, Iran is publicly silent about Bahrain’s regime, lest it be accused of meddling in Bahrain’s affairs, and thereby inviting outsiders to meddle in its own affairs. Furthermore, Bahrain’s Shia leaders prefer that Iran stay out, because they like to maintain the public pretense that Iran is not supporting Bahrain’s Shia anti-government clerics.

However, the action of revoking the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim appears to have been a kind of “last straw” for Iran, after a series of actions by Saudi and Bahrain officials targeting Shia leaders in their respective countries.

The most explosive action occurred in January, when Saudi Arabia executed 47 alleged terrorists: 46 Sunnis and one Shia, Mohammad Baqir Nimr al-Nimr. Iran and Shias were infuriated because the execution implied that Shia terrorism is equivalent to Sunni terrorism. Iranian mobs firebombed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and attacked the consulate in Meshaad. Saudi Arabia and Iran broke diplomatic relations as a result. Other Saudi allies followed suit. ( “18-Jan-16 World View — Pakistan tries to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran”)

Last month, Bahrain’s courts sentenced Shia opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman after he had been found guilty of charges relating to “publicly inciting hatred, an act which disturbed public peace, inciting non-compliance with the law and insulting public institutions.” Salman’s Al Wefaq National Islamic Society issued a statement calling the decision “an alarming politically-motivated verdict [that] only deepens the political and constitutional crisis in Bahrain.”

Early last week, Bahrain’s government shut down the Al Wefaq National Islamic Society.

Then on Thursday, a Bahrain court sentenced eight people to 15-year jail terms for forming a “terror group.” They also had their citizenships revoked, after convicting them of “establishing and raising donations to fund a terror organization named ‘Bahraini Hezbollah’.” The implication is that “Bahraini Hezbollah” is a terror group funded by Iran.

Then on Monday, Bahrain revoked the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim, Bahrain’s leading Shia cleric, and a leader of the opposition.

Perhaps, under “normal” circumstances, this court action would have been ignored by Iran and everyone else. But after so many actions of the same kind, Iran’s leaders may have felt they had to do SOMETHING, and they made their veiled threat of a coup, even though they know that an actual coup could lead to full-scale war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. BBC (30-May) and Al Wefaq (30-May) and Al Arabiya (17-Jun) and Press Tv (Tehran, 17-Jun)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Bahrain, Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim, Iran, Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Baqir Nimr al-Nimr, Sheikh Ali Salman, Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, Bahraini Hezbollah
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