FEATURE-Bahrain feels heavy weight of sectarian tension

Wed, 28 Sep 2011 14:00 GMT

By Andrew Hammond

MANAMA, Sept 28 (Reuters) – In the rubbish-strewn streets of Sanabis, the police are on the prowl for the culprits.

A group of Shi’ite teenagers and women, some of them mothers, some of them single, scuttle into a nearby house, putting out the lights as men get out of cars and drag some boys down from a rooftop across the street. Continue reading FEATURE-Bahrain feels heavy weight of sectarian tension

Fewer than 1 in 5 vote in Bahrain by-elections

By Andrew Hammond

MANAMA | Sun Sep 25, 2011 5:10pm BST

(Reuters) – Fewer than one in five voters cast ballots in Bahraini by-elections this weekend, a government website showed, after the Shi’ite majority in the Gulf Arab state boycotted the polls following the crushing of a protest movement this year. Continue reading Fewer than 1 in 5 vote in Bahrain by-elections

Bahrain holds vote as Shi’ite enclave protests

By Andrew Hammond

MANAMA | Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:44pm EDT

(Reuters) – Bahrain’s main opposition boycotted elections on Saturday held to fill parliamentary seats vacated by its members during a crackdown on a mostly Muslim Shi’ite protest movement in the Sunni-ruled monarchy.

The low turnout by Shi’ite voters and lack of prominent Shi’ite candidates appeared to favor pro-government candidates who previously would have met stiffer competition in districts of the Gulf island state, home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Continue reading Bahrain holds vote as Shi’ite enclave protests

SaudiLeaks: US reports on Shi’ite loyalties

This Wikileaks cable from May 2006 – one of the latest released concerning Saudi Arabia – is interesting in light of the uprisings: http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/05/06RIYADH3312.html (released 2 July 2011). It appears to be the conclusion of considerable research by the embassy – and hats off to them for undertaking it, but not for doing nothing about it – on the situation of Shi’ites in the Eastern Province. It says the loyalty of most to the Saudi state is assured as long as the kingdom’s reform discourse continues. Leaders among Shi’ite communities returned to the country in the early 1990s in an agreement with King Fahd. The end of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and his persecution of Shi’a as of 2003 raised people’s hopes. Then in 2005 Abdullah became king. Things haven’t gone as planned though and with the Saudi response to the protest movement within Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region, the image of King Reform is, let’s say, rather battered and bruised. I wonder what such a study would say were it conducted now. Continue reading SaudiLeaks: US reports on Shi’ite loyalties

Sectarian divide widens after Bahrain unrest

By Andrew Hammond

MANAMA | Thu Jun 9, 2011 10:17am BST

(Reuters) – Sectarian tension between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims has reached new heights in Bahrain after pro-democracy protests that the Sunni minority government crushed with martial law and foreign military forces. Continue reading Sectarian divide widens after Bahrain unrest

Bahrain Shi’ites talk of abuse under martial law

By Andrew Hammond

MANAMA | Wed Jun 1, 2011 6:07pm BST

(Reuters) – Bahraini Shi’ites say they have endured a reign of terror during 11 weeks of martial law imposed to break up a pro-democracy movement that for the first time threatened the control of a Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab dynasty.

Martial law was lifted on Wednesday. The authorities hope this will show investors and tourists that the island state is back to normal. Shi’ite dissidents fear repression will go on. Continue reading Bahrain Shi’ites talk of abuse under martial law

Did Bahrain opposition squander democracy chance?

By Andrew Hammond

MANAMA | Tue May 31, 2011 12:27pm EDT

(Reuters) – As martial law comes to an end in the Gulf Arab state of Bahrain this week, opposition activists are wondering whether they threw away what might have been the first real chance for democracy in the Gulf Arab region.

Shortly after young Bahrainis, inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, converged on a roundabout in early February, the government offered dialogue with opposition parties on political reforms. But the talks failed to get off the ground. Continue reading Did Bahrain opposition squander democracy chance?

Bahrain Shi’ite leader says backs royal family

By Andrew Hammond

MANAMA | Sun May 29, 2011 1:54pm EDT

(Reuters) – The leader of Bahrain’s main Shi’ite opposition party said on Sunday his goal was to help bring political reform, rejecting accusations of taking orders from Iran or seeking to install Shi’ite religious rule.

Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the opposition group Wefaq, said his party supported the Al Khalifa family as rulers and wanted to help the government with constitutional reforms. Continue reading Bahrain Shi’ite leader says backs royal family

Bahrain media play role in tension after protests

By Andrew Hammond

DUBAI | Thu May 5, 2011 2:18pm IST

(Reuters) – Bahraini media have played a central role in a crackdown on Shi’ite Muslims following the suppression of pro-democracy protests that threatened the Sunni monarchy’s grip on power, analysts say.

Since the crackdown began in March, the pro-government media have depicted the protesters as violent, driven by Shi’ite sectarian designs to disenfranchise Sunni Muslims and encouraged by Shi’ite power Iran, the bete noire of Gulf Arab rulers. Continue reading Bahrain media play role in tension after protests