Tensions are running high once more in Bahrain. Over the past week, authorities in the Gulf monarchy passed a constitutional amendment allowing military courts to prosecute civilians and subsequently filed a lawsuit to dissolve major opposition group Waad. On Tuesday, a verdict is expected in the trial of Sheikh Isa Qassim – the country’s top Shi’ite cleric who was stripped of his citizenship last year.
Shi’ite-based opposition groups have pledged to take to the streets on Sunday and throughout the week to demand the suspension of the trial of their spiritual leader. In the past, Bahrain’s government has clamped down hard on opposition demonstrations, arresting leaders and using force to disperse crowds.
But the Sunni monarchy must tread carefully. An overwhelming majority of Bahrainis – some 70% – are Shi’ite, and with regional tensions running high, the government can ill-afford a slip-up.
Dig deeper: Geopolitics and sectarianism collide in Bahrain
Simon is the founder of Foreign Brief who served as managing director from 2015 to 2021. A lawyer by training, Simon has worked as an analyst and adviser in the private sector and government. Simon’s desire to help clients understand global developments in a contextualised way underpinned the establishment of Foreign Brief. This aspiration remains the organisation’s driving principle.