Bahrain joins Middle East in protests

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Three weeks ago, Egypt broke out in protests. A week later, Tunisia also broke out in protests. Bahrain also vocalized their distaste for their current monarch in place.

In the past week, street violence has escalated as the two-year anniversary of the Arab Spring uprisings neared. Iran has been accused of pushing for some of the violence that occurred within the country. Explosives were found on the causeways, left with the intention of killing visiting people coming from Saudi Arabia.

Terrorist plots are thought to be in action, after an eight-man cell operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards was found.

Bahrain has faced turmoil within their country since 2011, when the Arab Spring originally occurred. Unlike other countries participating in the open revolution, the citizens of Bahrain were not protesting for revolution, but reform. The biggest grievances the citizens had were high unemployment rates, economic problems and poor housing. While these are considered the biggest factors as to why protests and demonstrations occur, Bahrain is split between two fundamental religious groups—the Sunni and the Shia.

Religious sectarianism divides the country within the country itself, along with the countries surrounding Bahrain. Saudi Arabia is Sunni Muslim, while Iran is Shia. Within Bahrain, the demonstrators and protestors are Shia Muslims, while the ruling family is Sunni Muslims.

While sub-groups of the religion are similar within faith, the biggest differences between the two are the political views. The Sunni have the money and the power, but are the minority. The Shia, or the majority of the country, are treated like second-class citizens.

Manama’s Pearl Roundabout is where the citizens tried to start their counterpart of Egypt’s Tahrir Square but were forced to leave after three days of protesting. But they returned, peacefully protesting for a month until they were completely forced out of the area.

When Bahrainis attempted to protest in 2011, the efforts were quickly put down. Even though they were unsuccessful, their spirits never dampened.

While Bahrain’s government is considered a constitutional monarchy, the citizens are protesting for a true constitutional monarchy by being able to elect their Prime Minister rather than the current prime minister being the king’s uncle.

Now, two years later in a village outside of the capital, demonstrators gather regardless of the ban on demonstrations. The police broke up the gathering, leaving the demonstrators to gather again, chanting for the downfall of the king and his regime.

At one point, both sides of the conflict were speaking until demonstrators were killed by security forces. All talk shut down as the situation changed.

Even though Bahrain is a perfect example of a country that was unsuccessful in open rebellion much like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, the country still has a fighting chance now. By not facing the two years of reverting to where the countries were pre-revolution, Bahrain might have a better idea of how to avoid such problems along with avoiding all-out war, unlike like Syria and Libya.

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