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When Petro-Dictators Unite: The Bahraini Opposition's Struggle for Survival

[Bahraini protesters being confronted with armored vehicles. Image from bbc.com] [Bahraini protesters being confronted with armored vehicles. Image from bbc.com]

For at least several decades, geopolitical, economic, territorial and ideological considerations have led to serious tensions, if not outright feuds, between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states. In recent weeks, however, the regimes of GCC states have shown their citizens that when their authoritarian rule is at stake, they will put aside their differences and put up a united front. Exceptional times, it seems, do call for exceptional measures. As such, the GCC endorsed NSC Resolution 1973–authorizing “all measures necessary” in Libya, including a no-fly zone. Indeed, while some GCC states have agreed to send troops to help overthrow one brutal dictator in Libya, others have already sent their US-trained and armed troops to uphold the rule of another entrenched and equally brutal dictator in Bahrain. But what exactly happens when some of the world’s most oppressive dictators unite, not to fight a well-known regional adversary further up North, but to put down a peaceful and democratic popular uprising?

The GCC’s Peninsula Shield Forces—composed mainly of Saudi, but also Qatari and Emirati troops—officially entered Bahrain on Monday March 14th, 2011. While their stated goal is to protect Bahraini government and oil facilities, the level of indiscriminate state violence against unarmed civilians in the last few days has been unprecedented. Firsthand accounts and video footage of Bahraini state security personnel using tear gas, rubber bullets, machine guns, tanks, and other weapons against unarmed civilians and journalists without warning have emerged from many villages, mainly Sitra and Qadham, and not just from the capital, Manama. In one reported incident, an Indian national working for a private security firm in Bahrain was killed while on duty on Wednesday night by a stray bullet from a military helicopter that was firing at protesters.


This article is now featured in Jadaliyya's edited volume entitled Dawn of the Arab Uprisings: End of An Old Order? (Pluto Press, 2012). The volume documents the first six months of the Arab uprisings, explaining the backgrounds and trajectories of these popular movements. It also archives the range of responses that emanated from activists, scholars, and analysts as they sought to make sense of the rapidly unfolding events. Click here to access the full article by ordering your copy of Dawn of the Arab Uprisings from Amazon, or use the link below to purchase from the publisher.

7 comments for "When Petro-Dictators Unite: The Bahraini Opposition's Struggle for Survival"

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great article

anonymous wrote on March 19, 2011 at 07:48 PM
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Is it possible that those dictators unite to mitigate to fragile and volatile transitions, and when everything is said and done, those dictators would be born-again humanitarians for their own citizens? My name is sugeng, as an American citizen iam appalled, one death is too many.

sugeng sukolono wrote on March 19, 2011 at 08:11 PM
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as a matter of fact, it is more about " When some puppets of Western imperialism unite" - both in helping the same imperialism put "Arabic face" on colonial aggression against Libya and by securing Gulf oil for the same imperialism. It is but two side of the same dollar-bill, so to speak.

lidia wrote on March 20, 2011 at 06:13 AM
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Sorry, the Iranian agents in Bahrain are NOT peaceful.

singalong wrote on March 20, 2011 at 02:32 PM
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Muslim world is watching closely how the West and White House handle these situations. They despised Ghadaffi despite his millions if not billions in the western banks. Now they want to make sure whoever rule Arab world next will still be the servant to the Zionist and Israel.

azmi baharom wrote on March 22, 2011 at 06:19 AM
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great article. How much this article reminds me of the tactics have been utilized by Iranian regime such as activists going missing, raiding homes, targeting journalists,not allowing family members to have funerals an so on..

Malihe wrote on March 22, 2011 at 03:51 PM
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some mentally impoverished arabs are so preoccupied with the iran phobia that they oftenly lose the path of logic n reason. despite the fact that shia comprise 70% of bahrain's population, their agenda is clear from their slogans,"shia n sunni will not sell this country,"

familydoc wrote on March 22, 2011 at 06:12 PM

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