Business as Usual in Bahrain
Nearly four years have passed since Bahraini activists began a concentrated campaign of non-violent protests aimed at achieving an array of structural changes to the country’s political system. Despite sharing the historical moment with Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen, where uprisings resulted in the ouster of long-standing authoritarian leaders and regimes, Bahrain’s presumptive revolutionaries have thus far failed to affect such a transition or achieve meaningful concessions from their government.
A Suppressed Awakening
The persistence of the protesters has been matched by the regime’s persistently oppressive security forces and intransigent ruling family. A national dialogue process that limped along for two years and recent parliamentary elections—among other initiatives—have all failed to satisfy demands for democratic reform and social equality between Sunnis and Shi’ites. How then has Bahrain remained in such stasis given this apparent tumult?
Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and other analysts continue to propagate the paradigm of a tense triumvirate leading Bahrain. With Prime Minister Sheikh Al Khalifa representing the regime’s so-called ‘hard-liners’ and Deputy Prime Minister and Crown Prince Salman Al Khalifa among the ‘reformers,’ King Hamad is said to be the “vacillating” force at the center that balances out these two apparently opposed forces.
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