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Wed 1 Jun 2011 09:49 AM

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Protests unlikely as Bahrain lifts martial law

Gulf kingdom has warned against fresh unrest, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa promises reform

Protests unlikely as Bahrain lifts martial law
Bahrains Ministry of Justice has warned against a resurgence of protests, like those seen in February and March

Pro-reform protesters in Bahrain are unlikely to call for renewed demonstration as the Gulf kingdom prepares Wednesday to lift a state of emergency imposed in March, analysts said.

The island’s rulers called in Gulf troops and imposed martial law in a bid to quell anti-government protests inspired by uprisings that brought down rulers in Egypt and Tunisia.

A resurgence of hostilities is unlikely but tensions will remain high, Christopher Davidson, author of 'Power and Politics in the Persian Gulf Monarchies', told Arabian Business.

“I’m not expecting a big demonstration to be held there any time soon. It’s been made quite clear by the regime in Bahrain that nothing will be tolerated [and] that any future protest will be met with a crackdown,” he said. 

Bahrain, home of the US Fifth Fleet, faced a wave of Shi’ite-led protests in February and March that left at least 29 people dead, including four policemen, and dozens more injured. .

The Ministry of Justice on Tuesday warned protestors that its hardline approach remained. It cautioned against “any type of activities that could affect security or harm the national peace and safety.”

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on Tuesday called for talks on reform involving all parties in the Gulf Arab state "without preconditions" from July 1, the state news agency said.

Negotiations should “comprehensive, serious and without preconditions”, BNA quoted the King as saying.

Bahrain's crown prince, widely seen as a moderate, also said last week he was committed to the reform path and said the Gulf state would listen to both domestic and international concerns.

The kingdom is also keen to reinstate its prestigious Formula One race. The March event was scrapped because of the unrest, but the kingdom is in talks to reinstate it to the racing calendar later this year.

Despite the promise of reform, analysts have said that tensions in the kingdom will remain high.

“Sectarian tensions have been inflamed and violence and repression, which is more and more coming to light in the international community, will keep the protestors simmering for many months to come,” said Davidson.

Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said protests could re-erupt in the future in the government fails to keep pace with reform.

“There’s potential for demonstrations looking forward. When that will occur is probably during some kind of anniversary or some kind of statement that is made by someone,” he said.

“The important thing to remember is that these [protestors] are very patient and they know they are being watched so they’ll move slowly. There may be a handful who will act as hooligans and those people you may see sooner rather than later.”

Mohammed Al-Balushi 8 years ago

Maybe the author should have waited a couple of hours before this article. Protests have now erupted in 10 Shi'ite villages and have been met with brute police force only likely to aggravate protestors more. A definite replay of what caused protests to erupt on february 14th.

Husain Abdul Nibi 8 years ago

Well I'm residing in Bahrain and quite frankly am very happy with keeping the check points, it really makes people in particular the expats on low income feel alot safer after being subjected to many attacks by youth gangs "protestors". The protestors had alot of spotlight from the International media conveying them as the victims of a brutal crackdown by the government.
However, being on ground I would say that this same media is very much biased they ultimate motive is to seek and report dissatisfaction, violance and instability in the region as a whole.