World View: Bahrain Postpones Trial of Shia Cleric After Threats from Iran

Bahrain made sweeping use of counter-terrorism legislation to crack down on dissent since they crushed demonstrations for a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister in 2011

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Bahrain postpones trial of Shia cleric after threats from Iran
  • Iran – Saudi Arabia relations continue to deteriorate

Bahrain postpones trial of Shia cleric after threats from Iran

Manama's Pearl Square after March 15, 2011, Arab Spring protests. The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.
Manama’s Pearl Square after March 15, 2011, Arab Spring protests. The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.

A ruling in the trial of Bahrain’s leading Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim, on charges of corruption and money laundering, was postponed on Tuesday to May 7. No reason was given for the postponement, but it was announced after an Iranian cleric said that the arrest of Qasim would be followed by a “bloodbath” in Bahrain. Qasim was also charged with promoting “sectarianism and violence” and “helping terrorism.”

On Sunday, a senior adviser to Iran’s parliament said:

Holding trial for Ayatollah Sheikh Qassim is an unwise act and the Bahraini government should know that it will never be able to bear the consequences of such an unwise measure.

“The Bahraini government is facing a serious crisis much worse than the challenge that it faced when detaining Sheikh Ali Salman, as trying Ayatollah Issa Qasim will be the depth of the crisis.

In a speech on Monday in Iran, Sheikh Abdullah al-Daqqaq said:

The Bahraini government felt threatened by the popular uprising under the leadership of Sheikh Qasim and has taken some measures against him.

Bahraini youths will not leave their leader (Qasim) alone. If Sheikh Isa Qasim is arrested a bloodbath will occur in Bahrain.

Al-Daqqaq called for nationwide strikes and civil disobedience.

Bahrain is led by an oppressive Sunni Muslim government closely allied with Saudi Arabia. Tensions are high because 2/3 of the population is Shia Muslim, while only 1/3 are Sunni Muslims. 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 Saudi troops arrived in Bahrain after crossing a long bridge connecting the two countries. The protests began in Bahrain on February 14, 2011. Dozens of protesters were killed, over 1,600 were arrested, and thousands were injured.

Writing about Iran and Bahrain is always interesting, because both countries are equally bloody, jailing, massacring and torturing peaceful protesters. Reuters and Ahlul Bayt News Agency (Tehran) and Tasnim News (Tehran)

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Iran – Saudi Arabia relations continue to deteriorate

The increasingly sectarian war in Syria between Shia/Alawites and Sunni Muslims continues to polarize the entire Mideast along the Shia-Sunni fault line. This has been particularly true in the relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, respectively the major Sunni Muslim country and the major Shia Muslim country.

Relations between the two countries became explosive early in 2016 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.

There are many bitter disagreements between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and one of the worst is the outcome of the stampede that occurred at the annual Hajj pilgrimage near Mecca in 2015. All Muslims are required to take part in the Hajj at least one in their lifetimes, and so there are always millions of people taking part each year. In 2015, one of the roads became so crowded with people that there was a stampede that killed hundreds of people who were trampled to death, including 464 Iranians. Although Saudi officials blamed “inevitable fate and destiny” for the disaster, Iranian officials blamed the disaster on the incompetence of Saudi officials, and even criminal acts by them.

Iran banned Iranians from attending the Hajj in 2016, after months of talks between the two countries failed to lead to an agreement over blame for the 2015 incident and security guarantees for the 2016 Hajj. The 2017 Hajj will occur in August. Iran and Saudi Arabia are in talks over the same issues as in 2016, and although “relative progress” has been claimed, it’s quite possible that Iranians will be banned from this year’s Hajj as well.

Another major issue separating Saudi Arabia and Iran is the war in Yemen, where Iran-backed Houthi rebels are fighting Saudi-backed Sunni militias, supported by Saudi airstrikes.

China has offered to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia, according to China’s foreign minister Wang Yi:

We hope that Saudi Arabia and Iran can resolve the problems that exist between them via equal and friendly consultations. China is friends with both Saudi Arabia and Iran. If there is a need China is willing to play our necessary role.

China is actively seeking friendship with all Mideast countries since it needs to import vast amounts of oil. However, as regular readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, China will be allied with the Sunni Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, while the West will be allied with Iran, Russia and India. Al Monitor and Al Araby

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Bahrain, Iran, Sheikh Abdullah al-Daqqaq, Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim, Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Baqir Nimr al-Nimr, Hajj, Yemen, China
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