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In Bahrain, Repression Plays into Iran’s Hands

Feb. 22 2018

A prominent Bahraini human-rights activist was recently arrested for “insulting” the government. His crime? Reporting on torture in Bahrain’s prisons. To Elliott Abrams, his case highlights the dangers of the island nation’s increasingly repressive rule:

Since 2011, when protests arose in the context of the Arab Spring, the government has reacted to them with repression. It will not work. Resentment of the royal family, which is Sunni while most Bahrainis are Shiite, will only widen among Shiite citizens and all citizens who want a free society. The worst fears expressed in 2011 and after—that the repression would create disaffection, which would lead to more repression and then Iranian meddling—have been borne out. Today, there is real Iranian subversion including shipping weapons into Bahrain. Bahrain is in a downward spiral.

Whether it can be stopped is not clear, at least to me. The current path will lead to more and more repression, more and more Iranian subversion, and more and more violence. Moving off that path would require courageous national leadership, from the Shiite community to be sure but above all, and first, from the royal family. It has been absent. If it remains absent in the months and years ahead, Bahrain’s future will be darker and darker.

A joint effort by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE is the only solution I can imagine. Together these three governments have the influence to broker a solution—assuming it is not already too late. . . . What is needed now is a higher-powered effort that takes into account both the fate of the [U.S.] Fifth Fleet (headquartered in Bahrain) and the likelihood of increasing Iranian subversion and the violence it can produce.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Bahrain, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Hamas’s Dangerous Escalation in Gaza

June 22 2018

As Hamas has stepped up its attacks on communities near the Gaza Strip—using incendiary devices attached to kites and balloons—Israel has begun to retaliate more forcefully. In response, the terrorist group has begun firing rockets and mortars into Israel. Yoav Limor comments:

What made Wednesday’s rocket salvo different is that ‎unlike previous flare-ups on the border [since 2014], this time it ‎was Hamas operatives who fired at Israel, as opposed ‎to Islamic Jihad or the ‎rogue terrorist group in the coastal enclave. ‎Still, Hamas made sure the attack followed most of ‎the familiar “rules”—only [firing] at night and only at the ‎ communities in the vicinity of Gaza, and apparently while also ‎trying to minimize any casualties, to avoid further ‎escalation. ‎. . .

The first reason [for the shift in tactics] is Israel’s own change of policy ‎with regard to kite terrorism. It took Israel far ‎too long to define the incessant waves of incendiary ‎kites sent over the border as actionable acts of ‎terror, but once it did, the IDF began ‎systematically countering them, including firing ‎warning shots at terrorist kite cells and targeting ‎Hamas assets in Gaza in retaliation.‎

The second reason is Hamas’s own frustration and ‎distress in Gaza. Since the border-riot campaign was ‎launched on March 30, some 150 of its operatives ‎have been killed and the Israeli military has ‎carried out over 100 strikes on Hamas positions in ‎the coastal enclave, all while Hamas has nothing to ‎show for it. ‎In this situation, Hamas is searching for [some sort of victory] by declaring that “bombings will be ‎met with bombings,” as Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum ‎said Wednesday, in order to portray itself as defending Gaza from ‎Israel.‎ . . .

Hamas is banking on Israel opting against a military ‎campaign in Gaza at this time so as not to split its ‎focus from the [developments in Syria], but it is sorely ‎mistaken if it thinks Israel will simply contain ‎kite terrorism or shy away from action given the new ‎equation it has presented. ‎At some point, Israel’s patience will expire.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security