Under the title “Bahrain’s uprising: resistance and repression in the Gulf” Durham University student Marc Owen Jones and a number of other Bahrain opposition apologists have expanded their repetitive and outdated arguments to the length of a full book. To save you the time of reading such a volume, here are a number of factors which should be considered:

Systematic bias

The authors of the various sections of this book read like a Who’s Who of the opposition, with figures like Ala’a Shehabi, Ibrahim Sharif and John Horne taking turns to file contributions. When only one point of view is represented and the subject matter is approached through the lens of “resistance and repression”, it is difficult to see how such as systematically one-sided account can add anything to people’s understanding of Bahrain.

Marc Owen Jones is himself a member of the pro-opposition Bahrain Watch. It is strange that an institution like Durham University would allow a PhD candidate to pursue such a fundamentally unbalanced and non-objective course of study as “the contemporary and historical use of repression in Bahrain”. Doesn’t such a piece of research determine the findings it will come up with in advance?

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First for Bahrain: First mention in historical record

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As it first emerged from pre-history, the islands of Bahrain were first known as Dilmun. The first mention of Dilmun is on Sumerian cuneiform clay tablets, dated to the late fourth millennium BC. These were found in the city of Uruk, in the temple of the goddess Inanna.

Qal’at al-Bahrain, the site of a later fort, is known to have been an important town for Bahrain’s maritime trade since around 2300 BC. From this same period we find an inscription in the ancient city of Lagash, where King Ur-Nanshe proclaims that: "The ships of Dilmun brought him wood as tribute from foreign lands."

We later find references to Dilmun in Babylonian documents, for example in letters during the reign of Burnaburiash of the Kassite dynasty, from around 1370 BC. These letters hint at administrative and trading relationships with the Babylonians. By this time, Dilmun was already attaining a reputation as a land of significant pearling wealth and a centre for regional maritime trade.

In the fourth century BC, contingents from the army of Alexander the Great, explored Bahrain. The Greeks gave the islands the name of Tylos. Greek writer Pliny praised Bahrain’s beautiful pearls.

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Not a moment too soon – Iran envoy expelled

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The Bahraini authorities have finally taken decisive action against the Islamic Republic of Iran after years and months of mounting evidence of Iran’s hostile intentions towards Bahrain, by withdrawing its ambassador to Tehran and making it clear that Iran’s ambassador is not welcome in Bahrain.

The most recent and most damning discovery was that of a massive bomb-making factory in Nuwaidrat, stacked with several tonnes of materials originating from Iran and provided by Iran. In the cause of GCC solidarity we would urge other Arabian Gulf nations to follow suit and demonstrate to Iran that its aggressive actions have steep consequences.

Here we look briefly at the charge sheet of Iran’s hostile acts against Bahrain and its closest allies:

  • ·Iranian explosives have resulted in the deaths of nineteen police and security personnel in Bahrain since 2011. Most of these brave individuals died as the result of roadside explosives, with the materials being consistently traced back to Iran. Groups like Al-Ashtar Brigades which have admitted responsibility for these atrocities have acknowledged Iranian support and several of their leaders are based in Tehran.
  • Iran has never stopped shipping arms and bomb making materials to Bahraini militants. The discovery of the bomb-making factory in Nuwaidrat is only the latest significant find. Several shipments of arms have been impounded and explosives originating from Iraq have been impounded on the Saudi Causeway destined for Bahrain.
  • Iranian leaders and their Hezbollah and regional proxies have continued a campaign of incitement against Bahrain. These figures have spread lies and hostile propaganda against Bahrain and have publically threatened to escalate their support for militant groups. The multiple arms of the Iranian media have waged a parallel campaign, while ignoring Iran’s own criminal actions in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon and elsewhere.
  • The impounding of large shipments of Iranian arms bound for Yemen demonstrates Iran’s commitment to undermining regional security. Five Bahraini soldiers were killed in Yemen along with numerous Saudis and Emiratis and others from Bahrain’s closest allies in the Coalition. Iran should be held accountable for its regional policy of stirring up conflict and instability through proxy groups like the Houthis, Hezbollah, Al-Hashd al-Sha’bi in Iraq and numerous extremist groups in Bahrain.
  • The recent discovery of a terrorist cell active in Kuwait; numerous cyber-attacks against Saudi and GCC entities; attempts to assassinate diplomats; the discovery of espionage and Qods Force cells active across the region; and unorthodox and unacceptable behavior by Iranian diplomats also demonstrates a consistent pattern of Iran using its diplomatic presence overseas for non-diplomatic and unacceptable purposes.

This pattern of evidence demonstrates that Iran’s support for such groups isn’t low-level and fragmented, but part of a clear and consistent strategy to ruthlessly extend its influence and destabilize the leaderships of Arab regional states.

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Iran & Russia destabilizing Syria & the region

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When Putin met Obama recently on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York, there were some commentators who believed that they were seeing the beginning of a super-power consensus over Syria and the need to combat ISIS.

However, the Russian Parliament agreed on 30 September to airstrikes in Syria and within a matter of minutes there were reports from non-ISIS rebel groups in Homs and Hama, saying that they were being bombed by Russian planes, with extensive reports of civilian casualties.

The establishment of Russian airbases in parts of Syria and the handing over of increasingly heavy weaponry to the Assad regime has drawn a confused response from the international community. 

Several Putin apologists hailed this move as a decisive step in combatting the threat of ISIS and Islamist extremism in Syria. They claimed that the only way of challenging ISIS was to work with Assad. In fact, the opposite is true.

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