Hezbollah, Iran trying to overthrow Bahrain?

posted at 11:35 am on April 25, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

You know, this could be yet another reason why the US took so much interest in “personalities in the Bahraini court”:

The militant group Hezbollah is actively plotting with the opposition in Bahrain to overthrow the country’s ruling family, the government said in a confidential report to the United Nations.

“Evidence confirms that Bahraini elements are being trained in Hezbollah camps specifically established to train assets from the Gulf,” the report reads. Bahrain has long made claims that Iran and Hezbollah have sought to fuel instability in the nation.

In the report sent to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bahrain’s government claims Iranian-backed Hezbollah has been training opposition figures at its camps in Lebanon and Iran, in an effort to destabilize the Khalifa monarchy. The report also says the militant group has trained militants for activities in neighboring Gulf countries, according to diplomats who have reviewed it.

There is plenty of reason to treat these claims with skepticism.  The monarchy that rules Bahrain is Sunni, while the majority of its Muslim subjects are Shi’ite.  Religious parties have gained strength in the legislature, but more liberal and secular parties have considerable influence.  The monarchy doesn’t necessarily sit well with any of them, and it’s certainly possible that the protests in the country are driven by home-grown fervor rather than foreign influences.

Still, Bahrain would be a strategic victory for Iran if a Shi’ite theocracy emerged that allied itself to Tehran.  The mullahcracy in Iran has shown no particular reservation in using Hezbollah to undermine governments in the region, either through popular action or through terrorism.  The Saudis became concerned enough to send 1000 troops to enforce a Bahraini decree of emergency rule last month, and the Saudis have the most to lose if Bahrain falls to Iranian intrigue.

The US would be worried as well.  Bahrain isn’t as strategically important as the UAE, with its tip-of-the-spear positioning in the Straits of Hormuz, but it’s not insignificant either as a buffer for Saudi Arabia; it practically guards Ad Dammam and the road to Riyadh.  Economically and especially in oil, Bahrain has significant importance for the US, as an Iranian-sponsored theocratic coup would further stress the international oil markets and put Iran in a much better position to dictate oil movements in the Persian Gulf.

Skepticism about the claims might be indicated, but don’t discount them entirely.  Iran has waged a hegemonic campaign throughout the region, and this would be a significant victory if the Bahrainis are right.

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If you had listened to my darkhorse pick to be president Dan Quayle you would have known this a month ago.

Are ya’ll finally ready to draft the guy?

Just A Grunt on April 25, 2011 at 11:42 AM

I thought all these protesters were peace loving democrats who wanted to establish secular, peaceful governments, and that any skepticism was just Glenn Beck conspiracy paranoia.


rbj on April 25, 2011 at 11:42 AM

If only America had oil reserves, then we could not have to worry as much about your economic/energy concerns being tied to the middle east.

Yep, if only.

Bishop on April 25, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Bahrain isn’t as strategically important as the UAE, with its tip-of-the-spear positioning in the Straits of Hormuz,

It’s also headquarters for the US 5th Fleet. Iran would love to push us out of there.

irishspy on April 25, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Maybe not so much an attempt to overthrow as much as attempt to keep the chaos going. Pity those who have to create mayhem in order to bring about their idea of a peacemaker.

fourdeucer on April 25, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Good thing Obooba’s on the links today.

Akzed on April 25, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Bahrain’s importance, other than oil, is as a jumping-off point in the Arabian peninsula to undermine the regimes in other counties like the UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi.

If Iran turns Bahrain into a puppet state, then the heat will turn up on the protests within various countries in the Gulf.

teke184 on April 25, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Are ya’ll finally ready to draft the guy?

Just A Grunt on April 25, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Where’s your sarc tag?

“The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation’s history. I mean in this century’s history. But we all lived in this century. I didn’t live in this century.” -Dan Quayle

astuddis on April 25, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Well, let’s give them $25 million and a friendly visit from Senator McCain…

Fallon on April 25, 2011 at 12:03 PM

You can be sure Iran thru Hezbollah is stirring the pot. There’s too much upside for them not to exploit the situation. Even if there is a somewhat secular movement for freedom, The most organized bloc will come out on top. That would be Iran and their proxies.

cartooner on April 25, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Even though the Shiapets occupy the majority of the seats in its parliament.


Kermit on April 25, 2011 at 12:04 PM



hillbillyjim on April 26, 2011 at 1:45 AM