David Roberts

The Bahrain Bomb: Measured Response Required

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A small bomb went off near the British Embassy in Bahrain’s capital Manama yesterday. The relatively small device went off underneath a bus parked 50 meters away from the Embassy.

Some points to note:

  • This incident comes at a time of tension between the UK and Iran (re: embassy bootings out) and during the Shia festival of Ashura.
  • Nevertheless, without wishing to be fatuous, no one can say with 100% accuracy that the British Embassy was the target. 50m is no small distance. Of course, it is likely, but if you’re that close to the Embassy why not lob it over the wall or leave it next to the wall/gate – anything other that sticking it under a bus?
  • I shudder to think of the hay that the Bahraini authorities will make with this; adding to their already notable molehill of ‘evidence’ of Iranian nefariousness in Bahrain.
  • If the Iranians wanted to attack the British Embassy in Bahrain (or elsewhere) I would suggest that they could – so to speak – do a damn sight better job than a home-made explosive device left under a bus vaguely near a British Embassy.
  • If the Bahraini authorities really want to push this line about this being proof of Iranian influence in Bahrain, then I suggest that this augers for just how little influence they have.
  • If this incident was done by someone with links to or sympathies with Iran (which is, of course, perfectly possible) then this person either: 1) Is incredibly dim (see point 3) in that now the Bahraini authorities will have yet more excuse in their eyes to crack-down further should they so choose. 2) Is rather Machiavellian (see point 3) in that they are trying to draw on more of a repressive response from the Bahraini authorities. Either which way, the Bahraini police ought to pursue a measured response.

3 Responses to The Bahrain Bomb: Measured Response Required

  1. Lilly 06/12/2011 at 7:09 AM

    Frankie Dolan’s explanation comments sound reasonable. The government-run TV station recently set up a fake protest and tried to pass it off as real. Considering the protestors want a more western-style democracy it seems a little odd that the Brit Embassy would be any kind of target.

    Sounds more like something that the far right, pro-government and anti-western groups would do – if anyone.

    • Steve Royston 06/12/2011 at 5:02 PM

      I think it is highly unlikely to be a false flag operation. Why? Because the damage to the government’s reputation would be catastrophic if its involvement came to light. It would not only look devious but foolish as well. And I believe that the government genuinely wants to move on, though maybe not in a manner that suits all parties.

      There will always be those who believe in conspiracies – remember the long-running saga of claims and counter-claims following 9/11.

      I would also partly disagree with Lilly’s comment that the protesters want a more Western-style democracy. Some do, but some want a theocracy. And that includes people on both sides of the divide.

      At this stage, as David says, it seems like a pretty amateur job. Perhaps 50 yards away because of the likely absence of CCTV cameras. My guess is that if it looks like a dog, it probably is a dog.

      There is not much political capital to be gained from blaming Iran yet again. Everyone else does – why bother?

      My advice to my fellow residents in Bahrain would be not to get too aerated about this incident. Keep alert, but do not let fear rule your lives. I visited the Embassy a couple of days before the bomb, and I would happily do so again tomorrow. I’m not complacent, just realistic.

  2. Frankie Dolan 05/12/2011 at 5:07 PM

    Discussion on Twitter is that a lot of people suspect the Ministry of Interior may have planted it themselves. Apparently the area was cordoned off 4 hours before the explosion. There appears to be a desperate attempt to link uprisings to Iran following publication of the BICI report which stated there was no such evidence.

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