Iran’s threats against Bahrain are nothing new

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In the context of heightened US-Iranian tensions, Tehran is once again making threats against Bahrain, this time threatening to launch missile attacks in which sovereign Bahraini port facilities will be “raised to the ground”. Such aggressive language falls within a pattern of consistent incitement against Bahrain by Iranian leadership figures. Below we look at the broader context of these attacks against Bahrain in recent years:

US base in Bahrain to be “raised to the ground”

Prominent Iranian MP and member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Mojtaba Zonour, warned on 6 February 2017 that if America takes measures against Iran, Iran would retaliate against US assets in Bahrain:

“The US Army's Fifth Fleet has occupied a part of Bahrain, and the enemy's farthest military base is in the Indian Ocean, but these points are all within the range of Iran's missile systems and they will be razed to the ground if the enemy makes a mistake… Only seven minutes is needed for the Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv.” 

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Analysis: Bahraini views on #MuslimBan

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One of the first executive orders signed by President Donald Trump was to ban nationals of seven Muslim majority countries from entering the US. The decision has caused a wave of protests across America and major discontent all over the world.

In Bahrain the decision is generally being perceived as a discriminatory step towards Muslims and nationals of these seven countries. Many Bahrainis worry that this will adversely affect perceptions of America and the West and lead to further radicalization.

Below is a sample of some of the opinions from a range of Bahrainis on the Muslim ban: 

“They should not pay for the mistakes of their Administration”

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Bahraini views on terrorism executions

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When Citizens for Bahrain asked a cross-section of people what they thought of the death sentence penalties for three individuals convicted of killing three policemen in March 2014, there were several unsurprisingly strong responses.

While many loyalists strongly supported the sentences for those convicted of murder and terrorism; and opposition sympathisers cast doubt on the sentences; there were also many more thoughtful responses which considered the impact of the rare usage of the death penalty for Bahraini society.

“The law will be implemented from now on”

“Bahrain has finally proven that terrorists get what they deserve. People who were convicted for killing others in the events of 1990s were later pardoned by the King in a show of good faith towards starting a new page in 2001. However, terrorists are terrorists and they should be punished;” said Khalid, age 42, from Riffa. 

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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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