A spectre is haunting the Persian Gulf - the spectre of Persia. The era of the Gulf's most iconic bête noire, Saudi born and raised
Dangling a few hundred kilometres above the Gulf states, like a geopolitical Sword of Damocles, post-revolutionary
And yet, the strenuous efforts to place
Of course, the Iranian threat is not without pedigree. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the export of revolution - sudur inquilab - was adopted as official policy. Even after its
Then, in the five years after 9/11,
It is therefore unsurprising that states like
But the truth is likely to be less sinister. Firstly, Bahraini protesters agitated not for the overthrow of minority Sunni rule, but for their fair treatment within existing political structures. Their demands for political liberalisation were predicated on the royal family's own pretensions to reform, which have stalled or regressed in the past five years.
In 2002, the king tore up the results of an earlier referendum and introduced his own constitution that gave greater power to the forty appointed parliamentarians rather than their forty elected colleagues. In the interim, widely accepted allegations of torture and arbitrary detention have been rife.
During this crisis, it was the regime's use of often indiscriminate violence, divisive sectarian rhetoric, and imported Sunni mercenaries that transformed a restrained and cross-sectarian protest movement into something more unruly, with a distinctly anti-Sunni inflection. The Bahraini and Saudi monarchies know this, but are obviously unwilling to articulate that their violent techniques are aimed at the perpetuation of their rule rather than national security.
Secondly, the effort by the Saudi and Bahraini monarchies to slander the protesters as Iranian stooges was a disturbing echo of early modern
In fact, most Bahraini Shias are Arabs and have little interest in serving
A sign of how low the threshold for alarm has fallen is the reaction to
None of this is to deny that
But what is more likely to render aggrieved Shia groups receptive to Iranian meddling: peaceful dialogue and meaningful reform, or bitter sectarian accusations and crushing violence?
The Saudi-led effort to vilify essentially moderate demonstrators will, in the long-term, radicalise these groups, harden confessional fault-lines, and thereby produce the very Iranian backlash on which these policies are conditioned.
- Back to the Pre-American World
- Washington Says It's Not Scared by China's Inroads in Latin America
- The Middle East: The Persian Illusion
- China: New Incentives?
- A Low in Cycle of United States - Pakistan Ties
- Pakistan and Afghanistan: A Tangled Knot
- Defense Policy: After Pakistan
- Defense Policy: International Terrorism Narrative Shift
- Defense Policy: The Changing Debate
- Libyan Intervention Displays Complexities of a United European Foreign Policy
- Europe: Multicultural Europe?
- Europe: No Happy Anniversary
- Bosnia: Crisis Averted?
- Serbo - Croat Relations: Addressing Injustice
- Betraying Israel
- The Scapegoat Syndrome
- The Latest Futility: New President, Same Middle East
- A Political Vision for Israel
- 3 Ongoing Conflicts You May Not Be Paying Attention To But Should
- Visegrad: A New European Military Force
- Turkey Setting Poor Example for Other Arab Nations
- IMF's Crisis-Management Challenge
- Dominique Strauss-Kahn Scandal an Embarrassment for France
- Going Cold on Bin Laden
- Chinese Investors Are Coming to Latin America
- Bin Laden's Death a Rorschach Test for the World
- Tough Times for Radical Islam
- China No. 1 in Five Years? Not so Soon
- Global Demography: Population Inflation
- Smallpox Threat Resurrected
- What's Next for al-Qaeda?
- Bin Laden's Death and U.S. Afghan Policy
- Engineering Programs React to Japan Nuclear Crisis
- Syria: At A Crossroads
- Iran: Authority Deficit
- NATO: Lessons From Libya
- United Kingdom: Forged In The Crucible Of Austerity
- United Kingdom: Democracy As Conflict Prevention
- United Kingdom: Military Defense Test Case
- British Defense Policy: MoD Mess
- United States - Pakistani Relations Beyond Bin Laden
- Bin Laden Death Raises Big National Security Questions
- Where the United States Goes from Here
- Welcome to Paybackistan
- Osama Bin Laden: Got Him!
- Will Bin Laden Death Affect Afghan Exit Timetable?
- Pakistan Unaware of Osama bin Laden Presence? Don't Believe It
- Congress Praises Obama and Troops After Bin Laden Death
- Strategic Implications of Osama bin Laden's Death
- The Middle East: The Persian Illusion
- Final Letter to Osama bin Laden
- Justice Has Been Done
- President Obama on Osama Bin Laden
- Bin Laden and the Return of Common Sense
- Osama Bin Laden Dead
- Osama bin Laden Aftermath
- The Future of the Liberal World Order
- Why DOHA Trade Negotiations Are Doomed and What We Should Do About It
- Who's Afraid of the International Criminal Court?
- 5 Economies Worse Off Than the United States
- The Rise of the Islamists
- The Black Swan of Cairo
- Understanding the Middle East Revolutions of 2011
- Parsing the Differences Between Tunisia, Egypt and Libya
- The Heirs of Nasser
- Terrorism After the Arab Revolutions
- Egypt Can't Seem To Shed Bad Habits
- How Hosni Mubarak's Reign Came to an End
- Libya: The Two Obamas
- How to Save the Euro and the European Union
- Recalibrating Homeland Security
- Getting the Military Out of Pakistani Politics
- Power and Politics in an Autonomous Latin America
- The Sacred and the Dead
- China and the End of the Deng Dynasty
- United States - Pakistan Partnership in Peril
- Islamist Militancy in a Pre- and Post-Saleh Yemen
- Iraq, Iran and the Next Move
- World's Most Dangerous Man? Syrian Leader Makes Strong Case
- A View from Syria
- Libya and Beyond: Why not Every Nation for Itself?
- Confidence Remains Strong in Global Markets Despite Crises
- Latin America Provides Cautionary Tale for Middle East
- The Arab Risings, Israel and Hamas
- America Should Exercise Pragmatic Idealism in the Arab World
- Richard Goldstone Recants His Report Attacking Israel
- Middle East: Autocratic Deafness
- A Brave Libyan Stands Up Against Rape
- Is Pacific Fish Safe to Eat After the Disaster in Japan?
- Demand and Disasters Complicate Global Energy Picture
- Global Arms Trade: A Vortex of Death and Wealth
- Arms Trade: a Filter, Not a Dam
- Organised Crime: Joint Responsibility
- It's Time, Mr. President: A Time for Clarity
- Chances for a New US Foreign Policy Not Taken
- Did the United States Give Up on Libya?
- The Gulf Region: Anger Management
- Saudi Arabia: Guarding The Fortress
- Israel's Recent Political Actions Aren't Going Over Well
- Israel: If Not Now, When?
- A 'Reverse Beauty Pageant' for Tyrants
- African Hydropower: Damming at What Cost?
- United States - Pacific Relations: Pacific-Minded
- 7 Problems That Could Derail the Global Economic Recovery
- Technology Powers Revolutions and Saves Lives
- Russia Stocks Soar on Rising Oil Prices
- Japan: Heavy History
- China: Weak Impetus for Change
- China Sees the Evil of Plastic Bags
- Pakistan: Educating For Tolerance
- Immaculate Intervention: The Wars of Humanitarianism
- AQAP and the Vacuum of Authority in Yemen
- Japan Quake and Tsunami Among Most Costly of All Time
- China's Economy the Key to Quelling Social Unrest
- Syria's Stalled Revolution
- Prudent Multilateralism in Libya
- The Thinly Veiled Campaign for Regime Change
- Unexpected Revelations in Libyan Intervention
- President Obama's Most Amazing Libyan Achievements
- Libya: Insanity Dawn
- Obama's Half-a-Loaf War
- Obama Said He Doesn't Mind Criticism on Libya Mission in Latin America
- What Happened to the American Declaration of War?
- The Power of Giving Back
- Safety on the Cheap
- Egyptian Elections: the Sooner, the Better
- The Libyan Question: What Now?
- Obama's 'Goldilocks' Doctrine
- War Number Three
- Un-Unified Oppositions in Bahrain and Yemen
- Japanese Earthquake Brings Back Sad Memories
- 5 Reasons Investors Should Not Bail on Japan
- Japan's Nuclear Crisis Reignites Safety Debate
- Military Involvement in Libya Costs Taxpayers Millions
- United Nations Relevance
- A Mother's Confession on Mothers' Day
- Middle East Crisis: Today's Events in the Middle East
- World's Costliest Disaster
- Japan Crisis: Video Reports 3/23/2011
Available at Amazon.com:
Copyright 2011, Chatham House; Distributed by TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.