Bahrain is a country in a complicated crisis and the solutions to this crisis do not seem to be anywhere in sight. The crisis has taken a religious dimension in that the battle lines are drawn along the differences between the minority ruling class and royals the Sunni on one side while the majority Shiites, the oppressed are on the other side.
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However the religious undertone evident in this crisis is just a mask that obscures the real causes of the crisis. The crisis is much more political than religious. The outcomes of this conflict though, will have an effect on global affairs in one way or another. Despite the overtly shite / Sunni tensions in the conflict there are other reasons why this conflict is taking place.
Such issues include the opposition to the Sunni minority hegemony, and will incorporate radical reforms aimed at instituting a democratic government in this tiny but largely significant kingdom. Those on the opposition, the majority protesting Shiite feel that only through democracy can they have a fair chance of ever ruling this country.
As such this seems to be the only way to break the decades of minority Sunni leadership and dominance. From the issues of gross mistreatment in the hands of the minority Sunni government officials, the majority shite would be expected to revolt at some point.
However there are some who feel that this is a senseless war and it should come to a halt due to the implication it already posses at the global stage. As such social, political as well as religious Ignorance and neglect leads to a culture crisis in Bahrain and the consequences may be too grave to imagine.
The Bahrain conflict has taken a religious conflict but such a view is based on confusion and inbred religious ignorance. The two conflicting sides the Sunnis, minority and rulers and the shite majority and ruled have had political tensions throughout history, the conflict in Bahrain is far more than a mere religious tension.
Those who claim that it is fueled by the enmity between the historical religious confrontations between the Shiite and the Sunni portray a clear lack of understanding of the situation. Justin Gengler, a Ph.D. student at the University of Michogan explains that the Bahraini Sunnis and shite are not caught up in the fight on the good and the evil (Gengler, 2011).
The crisis is justified by the fact that the Sunnis government, in trying to contain the resurgent Shiite opposition, has destroyed a number of shite mosques in the capital city, but despite this, the crisis is much more political than religious. This political crisis between the shite and the Sunnis stems back from independence times in 1970s when the country gained autonomy from Britain. In the years after independence the country has experience a series of coup efforts.
These coups have been directed by the Shiite’s who have always aimed at unsettling the Sunni government which has held on to the power with an iron fist. The Shiite majority feel justified to revolt since they claim that the Sunni minority has ruled over them for long periods of time.
While the shite would not mind a Sunnis leadership, it’s the cruelty and unfairness that the Sunni execute their leadership especially against the shite that has driven much of these tensions. Moreover with the shite Sunni tensions in other Muslims countries such as Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Iran, it would be easier to claim that the tensions in Bahrain are religious. The can be nothing further fro the truth (Malcomson, 2011).
The search for democracy is another justification for this crisis. The Shiites, being the majority, are overwhelmingly in favor of a democratic government. This is because this type of government would open up the democratic space necessary fro reforms that would be beneficial to them.
As such they are determined to drive away the absolute monarchy type of leadership currently driven by the present Sunni lead government. In its place they want a constructional monarchy which will guarantee them the constitutional right to leadership.
This kind of government will give them the right power to translate the majority status into real political power (Sotloff, 2011). Furthermore, the crisis takes a political inclination by the very nature in which it is manifested. According to Maryan Al-Khawaja, a Bahraini Shiite human rights activist, the crisis is a Sunni government versus shite opposition (National Public Radio, 2011). The Sunni government, Al-Khawaja adds, feels justified to retaliate and use oppressive power against the opposition’s Shiite by use of aggression.
Furthermore, the government is justifying its position by seeking the constitutional mandate to ban all opposition parties. So what is being seen is justified by the Sunni government as valid means of trying to contain a stubborn Shiite lead political upraising and not religious tensiosn between the aggrieved Shiite Muslims and the ruling Sunni.
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What many people do not know is the fact that the Washington seems to favor a monarchy and maybe quietly favoring the Sunni government oppressive monarchy in Bahrain as its sees it as the only way to safeguard its interests in this region. As such, the loud silence from Washington seems to justify the Bahraini government efforts to cling on to power. As long as a monarchy is in power there will be violence in Bahraini (Langfitt, 2011).
The case for the opposition is that the Sunni government has had an oppressive rule despite the Sunni being the minority in this country. As such the crisis is driven by the feeling of oppression of the shite by the Sunni lead government.
The shite argue that the Sunni have had decades of leadership in this tiny country which has not been of any benefit to them (the shite). Furthermore they add that the Sunnis lead government has always been unfair to them by denying them basic human rights.
According to the Shiites, despite being the majority they neither are nor afforded the same opportunities with the ruling Sunni minority. Such bias exists in the job sector as well as in government financial support.
The Shiite do not have a right to hold government jobs while the areas they occupy are deliberately denied government funding keeping poverty levels high (Sotloff, 2011). Furthermore the Shiites are accusing their Sunni government of recruiting foreign Sunni to fill in job in the Bahraini government.
Currently there are about 65000 Pakistani Sunnis occupying jobs in Bahrain. The Shiite explains that this has a multiple effect. To begin with it keeps them out of occupying government jobs and secondly it mean that the number of Sunnis have increased in Bahraini.
This, the Shiite say is a cruel way of enforcing Sunni dominance in Bahrain. So the Shiite are arguing that there needs to be an uprising to keep out such heinous practices by their government (Delmar-Morgan and Wright, 2011).
However the United States of America has moved in to refute the crisis not as big as it seems to be. This is due to the level of complexity as well as the importance that this Bahrain holds to the USA. Bahrain is home to the US Navy Fifth Fleet, an important military asset to the US efforts to contain Iran.
As such Washington sees the installation of a democratic Shiite lead government as efforts to jeopardize the efforts contain Iran, a shite held government (Langfitt, 2011). Moreover the US does not want to tinker with its relationship with the only remaining ally in the Arab world, Saudi Arabia.
This is because Arabia is supporting the Bahrain Sunni lead government. As such Washington wants to move with a lot of caution as any tension with Saudi Arabia might have severe ramification in the prices of crude oil (Fink, 2011). This is because heightened tension in Bahrain might involve Saudi Arabian and Iran, thus destroying diplomatic ties.
That kind of situation might likely push the demand supply equilibrium of oil in favor of the demand function. If that happens the prices of crude oil might double within very short time. This is a possibility that Washington is not willing to gamble with (The Week, 2011).
As such as much as the crisis in this country has assumed a political dimension Washington does not want any part of it of due to the heavy political as well as economic ramification it portends, as well as the tricky situation diplomatic it put the US in.
Delmar-Morgan, A., & Wright, T. (2011). Bahrain’s foreign police add to tensions. Wall Street Journal. Web.
Fink, J. (2011). Bahrain crisis is important for one reason: Saudi Arabia. Web.
Gengler, J. (2011). Religion and politics in bahrain. Web.
Malcomson, S. (2011). Bahrain: The widening gulf. New York Times. Web.
National Public Radio. (2011). Bahrain detains activist after crackdown on dissent. Web.
Sotloff, S. Bahrain on the brink. Web.
The Week. (2011). Will the Bahraini crisis benefit Iran? The week. Web.