Bahrain on the Brink

Bahrain on the Brink
4 March, 2014 – by marcowenjones – marcowenjones blog

Yesterday (03/03/2014), the Bahrain Ministry of the Interior reported that three bombs had been detonated in the village of Daih. One explosion killed three policemen, including an Emirate officer. The Ministry of the Interior announced today that 25 people had been arrested in connection with the attack. Naturally, the MoI will make quick arrests, whether the accused are guilty or not. To fail to do so would look weak, and potentially inflame tensions between those who wish to enact their own style of vigilante retribution. Human Rights groups reported house raids and collective punishment in Daih following the attack, and this video shows a policeman kicking a detainee a few times as he (the detainee) lay on the ground.

Although there were four bombs, it is unclear exactly who is responsible for what. At least two groups have claimed responsibility via social media for the attacks in Daih – the Al Ashtar Brigades and the Popular Resistance Movements. The former group’s confession can be read here, while the latter’s can be read here. Although it is possible that the two groups planted separate bombs, or co-ordinated attacks, they do not mention this. The Popular Resistance Brigade state they conducted an attack near the Al Hashmi centre in Daih. The Al Hashmi centre is the location outside which most of yesterday’s grisly pictures of wounded/dead officers emerged. (see here then here to view the Al Hashmi centre(jump to 0.28). Similarly, the Al Ashtar brigade took responsibility for the attack that resulted in the death of three policemen – presumably at the Al Hashmi centre too. So far, different media outlets have attributed the attacks to different parties. Khaleej Times, for example, have attributed it to the Popular Resistance Brigade, while the AFP, Financial Times and Gulf News attributed it to the Al Ashtar Brigade.

Regardless of who did it it, it is interesting that this is not the first time they appear to have claimed responsibility for the same attack. In May, both groups seemed to take credit for the same attack against policemen in the village of Karanah(See here and here). Whether or not it was the same attack cannot be certain, yet they both happened in the same place at around the same time. It is also interesting to note that a Twitter account for the Popular Resistance Brigade was linked to the Bahrain government (however, there is no evidence to suggest Facebook and Twitter accounts are linked). Ultimately, it is not clear who runs these accounts. They could be government sponsored accounts, they could be real militant groups, or they could be some keyboard activists with a knack for religiously infused Arabic rhetoric.

As for the Bahraini government, they have not made an official announcement yet as to who was responsible, but the names of both groups have featured frequently in the local newspapers following other bomb explosions. Recently, a policeman claimed that during his investigations he found that Al Ashtar brigades were linked to the Coalition of February 14th. Furthermore, the government seem to be taking the threat seriously, as they recently put Al-Ashtar Brigade, the Popular Resistance Brigade, and the Coalition of February 14th on the terrorist blacklist. Interestingly, as Dr.Abdulhadi Khalaf points out, the Deputy Chairman of the Dubai Police Leiutenant General Dahi Khalfan seems to have single handedly discovered that the person who killed one of the Emirate policeman (specifically?) was trained by Hezbollah and used to visit Lebanon a lot. Step aside Benedict Cumberbatch. …more