Understanding the terrorist threat in Bahrain

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The killing of three policemen on 3 March 2014 marked the apex of a campaign of terrorism against Bahraini targets by a number of militant groups which received training, funding and weapons from outside the Kingdom. Bahrain’s first usage of the death sentence since 2010 against three terrorists convicted of this attack on 15 January 2017 is a suitable moment to look back at the pattern of terrorist incidents over the post-2011 period.

By properly understanding these threats and challenges we can better ensure that citizens are protected from terrorism and also ensure that frustrated young people are not seduced into criminal activities which ultimately destroy their own lives as well as those of their victims.

By mid-2012 it had become clear that the protest movement in Bahrain was struggling to maintain its momentum. Even calls by senior opposition clerics failed to bring out tens of thousands of supporters. Meanwhile, moderates staked their hopes on reforms, dialogue and consensus as the way forward for Bahrain.

In this context, radical elements of the opposition had already sought to continue the unrest; not through the path of civil disobedience, but through acts of terrorism. As tensions increased between Tehran and the GCC states, Iranian leaders on several occasions made their intentions clear for increasing their support for Bahraini militants. Quds Force’s Qassim Soleimani on 19 June 2016 threatened that there would be a "bloody uprising" in Bahrain which would "leave people with no other option but the toppling of the regime in armed resistance".

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Bahraini views on the growing threat of ISIS

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The growing threat of radical groups has created an environment of fear across the world. The so called Islamic state (ISIS) succeeded this year in terrorising many countries through several attacks in Turkey, Belgium, Germany, France the US aside from the atrocities it caused in Syria and Iraq. In Bahrain and the region many people realise that radical ideologies should be challenged to prevent the threat of terrorist groups, as some GCC countries have suffered from several attacks on mosques. Bahrain is a nation known for its diversity and tolerance, and the spread of terrorism and extremism across the world has its effect on every country. Below are some Bahraini views on the growing threat of ISIS.

“Acknowledging the growing threat”

“ ISIS is a growing threat that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with, especially when theres a video of terrorists calling on attacks in Bahrain going around. We fear any attack that can cause further damage to our society and economy. We are trying to move forward as a country and the last thing we need in Bahrain is a growth in radicalisation or terrorist attacks” Maryam 32, Manama 

“ People need to understand what threat ISIS and other radical groups are. Its certainly a great danger to Bahrain and other countries but the younger don't realise their responsibility in fighting such mindsets that could ruin the country” Noor 28, Saar

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Britain - A friend and a strong ally to the GCC

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Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to Bahrain

 

The visit of UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May to Bahrain to join the GCC Summit is truly a landmark for the ties between the GCC countries and the United Kingdom. The fact that this comes in amongst a flurry of high-level official British visits to Bahrain – including Prince Charles and the Foreign Secretary, and so recently after King Hamad’s visit to the United Kingdom – is a signal that we are at a high point for the bilateral relationship, as we mark 200 years of this historic partnership. And long may it continue.

As the first British Prime Minister to attend a GCC summit – along with being the first female head of state to participate – this is a historic occasion. The United Kingdom is clearly emphasizing its seriousness for strengthening its ties with the region. Britain’s support, solidarity and friendship make it reasonable for us to look to the United Kingdom as the seventh GCC State – in spirit, if not by treaty!

In response to those usual critics who are hostile towards any kind of relationship with the GCC States, 10 Downing Street issued a press releases stating “We achieve far more by stepping up, engaging with these countries and working with them to encourage and support their plans for reform.”

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Family Law - A necessity for Bahraini society

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The Family Law has already proved its worth in Bahrain as a central pillar for protecting the rights of women in legal family disputes such as divorce, child custody, domestic violence, inheritance and other essential facets of life.

However, through no fault of their own, Shia women and families are currently excluded from enjoying the benefits of such a law. Here we will briefly look at why this is the case and why this matters:

In Bahrain we have two courts concerned with family issues based on Shariah law; the Sunni courts and the Jaafari (Shia) courts; reflecting the traditional legal differences in these religious schools of thought. 

In 2008, Bahrain succeeded in passing a Sunni Family Law. However, Shia legislators blocked efforts towards either a unified Family Law, or a Jaafari Family Law. These MPs claimed that the proposed bill contradicted religious teachings. However, their critics said that these Shia Islamist MPs had rejected the move because it lessened the ability of clerics to have influence over the private lives of local communities.

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