Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Terrorists, Not to be Confused with "Terrorists," Arrested in Bahrain

I recognize that I've been slacking a bit in posting over the past weeks and months, mainly owing to growing writing commitments.  Primary among these is a book manuscript for a university press based on my dissertation, which feels not a little like déjà vu.  The book will make use of the data from my Bahrain survey of 2009, as well as more recent data from projects in Qatar, to probe the individual-level assumptions of the rentier state framework.  Theoretically, this can be summarized in two main questions:
  1. On what basis do citizens actually qualify for the material benefits distributed by Gulf governments?
  2. To what extent are citizens' political behaviors and orientations actually a function of (their degree of satisfaction with) these material benefits?
Now, you may not find these questions particularly interesting, but then again neither are recent political developments in Bahrain, which as elsewhere in the Gulf have been overshadowed by last week's Iranian nuclear deal.

Far from a similar political deal in Bahrain, the main news item seems to be public outcry -- and official embarrassment -- over the effects of what was by local standards a big rainstorm last week.  While there were no resulting deaths as in Saudi Arabia, still residents were sufficiently annoyed to post photo evidence of the country's poor drainage infrastructure to social media.  Among those affected were schools, some of which had to close as a result of flooding, and these joined in the fun by posting their own flood photographs to Instagram and elsewhere.  As a result, the Education Ministry has now banned schools from publishing their own news and images, which now must be submitted to the ministry beforehand. Brilliant.

The other notable story is the arrest of two former Guantanamo inmates who attempted to cross into Bahrain with cash and forged passports in order, the Interior Ministry claims, to carry out terrorist attacks. Now, since we're dealing with actual terrorists in this case rather than tire-burning "terrorists" (or terrorists who upload photos of flooding to the Internet), the ministry has not identified the suspects nor released further details, including their nationality.  Certainly, it would not be the first time that Salafis released to Saudi Arabia's custody from Guantanamo returned to the trade. The more interesting question, of course, is whether those arrested were planning to attack actual government (or U.S. government) targets, or Bahrain's Shi'a heretics.

Oh, and the neverending dialogue continues, though still without opposition participation. So there's that.

Update: The Bahrain Mirror reports that, notwithstanding early statements by the Interior Ministry, Bahrain's public prosecutor seems to have dropped references to "terrorism" in regard to the former Guantanamo prisoners arrested on the causeway last week. The individuals apparently were Salafi fighters/intermediaries bound for Syria, which would explain their money and forged passports.  The Bahrain Mirror noted that the public prosecution is headed by the brother of the former leader of al-Asalah, prompting a statement from the latter to the effect that "We are honored to send aid to the Syrian revolution."

1 comment:

  1. You may want to check out today's alwatan, more talk of an imminent political deal: http://www.alwatannews.net/ArticleViewer.aspx?ID=YXADIDek1eZFPC9vnEIv4A933339933339

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