Analysis

Bahrain: Opposition Seething One Year After Arab Spring Protests
Bahraini Shiite Muslims take part in an anti-government rally in Bilad al-Kadim, a suburb of Manama, Bahrain on February 24, 2012. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
February 28, 2012
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa
Summary
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Relations between the ruling Sunnis and majority Shiites in Bahrain are once again tense following the one-year anniversary of last year’s protests that left at least 35 dead and dozens arrested. As Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa grows impatient with an increasingly restless opposition, there are concerns Iran will take advantage of the unrest and attempt to expand its presence and influence in the country.

Efforts at reconciliation have so far produced mixed results and it appears the situation is becoming more tenuous, with Shiites increasingly antagonistic toward the government and Sunnis becoming more hardline in their views on how to handle protesters. A senior government official met with al Wefaq, the main Shiite Muslim opposition group, on February 15 but little was resolved.  Underlying tensions were especially high after King Hamad accused protestors of cheering “down with the King and up with Khamenei” during rallies the day before. This news prompted around 20,000 Sunnis to rally on February 21 to urge the government not to engage in talks with opposition groups.

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