Foreign Policy

Does the Unrest in Bahrain Threaten the Saudi Monarchy?


As protests roil the Middle East, most commentators are focused on countries like Yemen, Iran, and Algeria—but the real action may be happening in tiny Bahrain. The Persian Gulf statelet is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and a smattering of other American military personnel, but the island kingdom has another, potentially more important claim to fame: It is seen as a harbinger for Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province.

As with the Saudi Arabian desert governorate of al-Hasa, Bahrain's largely Shiite population is under the control of a Sunni monarchy. Saudi Arabia's grip on its vast oil wealth would be threatened if ideas about self-rule spill over to its Eastern Province, and so the House of Saud has cultivated strong ties with Bahrain's ruling Al Khalifa family. The rulers of Bahrain have until now kept a lid on the situation through a carefully calibrated combination of carrots (oil-financed handouts) and sticks (fomenting sectarian strife), but that stategy might not hold up to the revolutionary tide sweeping the Middle East. As Gala Riani with Jane's Defence Weekly told the BBC, "The authorities will be able to handle it, as they have in the past, if it is sectarian in nature," but with crowds chanting "neither Sunni nor Shia but Bahraini," that's a conditional that may no longer hold.

The big question now is whether or not there will be a Saudi intervention. The kingdom showed a willingness to intervene in favor of its allies during the Egyptian crisis when it floated the idea of making up America's military aid to Egypt if the flow were cut off, and the BBC is citing both Riani and an unnamed "expert with close ties to the powerful Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef" as saying that the Saudis are prepared to intervene if the situation "gets out of hand." The subscription-only Tactical Report is claiming that the Saudi interior ministry already has plans to ship anti-riot gear to its counterparts in Bahrain.

As Cairo-based blogger Issandr El Amrani has pointed out, the U.S. State Department has been very critical of the Iranian regime's crackdown on protests, while only offering tepid support for the protesters in Bahrain, even as the death toll in the island kingdom has risen above that of Iran. If the situation in Bahrain does indeed get "out of hand" and the Saudis intervene, America could find itself in a very sticky situation, balancing the interests of its Saudi client state on the one hand with its supposed commitment to fostering democracy on the other.

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  1. Finally, a situation where the greasy sanctimony of Hillary Clinton and the slippery equivocation of Barack Obama may actually be of use.

    1. Fine, put a burka on her, ship her to Saudi, and let her work her voodoo. In fact, tell ’em they can keep her as a token of good will.

      1. “In fact, tell ’em they can keep her as a token of good will.”

        We should at least get a few camels for her.

        1. I shouldn’t laugh, but that is sooo funny!

  2. Oops…we sold a boatload of military hardware to the Saudis as well. I predict this will end badly.

  3. The sooner the House of Saud’s and senior Wahabbi clerics’ heads are displayed on spikes in downtown Riyadh, the better.

    1. I don know if they have enough space to hold the heads of the entire House of Saud. There are around 7000 members, with 3000-4000 princes.

      1. A properly displayed head on a spike takes up what, two square feet? There’s plenty of room in Riyadh but the flies might get bothersome after a week or so.

  4. More victims of weapons of mass dissemination of information

  5. In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

    Instead of sitting around on the internet all day, posting pointless messages about “freedom” and abusing yourselves to pictures of loose women, why not do something productive and surrender your lives to Allah?
    Western society has become decadent, weak, and lazy, and is soon to collapse. The upcoming generation, people such as yourselves, want nothing more from life than to grow fat sitting around on computers all day, masturbating, drinking, and taking drugs. You allow your women to parade themselves on your streets dressed as common whores, and you are encouraged in this behavior by corrupt politicians and absent new age parents while your societies and economies collapse around you.
    Meanwhile the Muslim Ummah, or brotherhood, grows rich on oil wealth and our madrasas train the upcoming generation to serve Allah, and to fight, willing to give their lives if necessary for the cause. The 19 hijackers of 9/11 have surely earned their place in paradise as do the martyr bombers who strike daily into the heart of the devil state of Israel. We are living among you, in Europe and America, and we are outbreeding you day by day, slowly taking over.
    Allah has a plan for each of us. He means us all to be good Muslims and live by his rules, as set out to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Your sinful lives and wicked ways go against His plans, and you will be tortured for eternity in hell for your iniquities. Repent now and revert back to the one true faith.
    Where your joke of a faith, which no one in your society believes in anyway, tells you to love, be tolerant, and turn the other cheek, the Qur’an teaches us to “Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them, capture and besiege them and prepare for them every kind of ambush.”
    It also says “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies”.
    How can you hope to win your futile so called ‘war on terror’ against us? You have become weak, and no longer willing or able to fight. You even elected a pacifist president with Muslim sympathies to try and placate us. He supports our plan to build a mosque as a monument at the site of our victory against you in New York. It’s only a matter of time until we win. Even now your soldiers continue to die on the battlefields of Afghanistan, and for what? The moment you leave, it will be back to traditional Sharia law. Your technological advances count for nothing if all you do with them is watch porn and play video games. We will continue our jihad on the west, to maim and kill those who oppose or insult us. See the truth for what it is and revert to Islam immediately. It is your only hope of survival.

  6. More importantly, does it threaten the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix?

    But seriously, you can almost hear that little toad Bernie Ecclestone fretting over the potential loss of hundreds of millions of pounds showered on him to secure races by his friends in Arab royal families.


  8. Francis Bacon, the famous philosopher, has rightly said that a little knowledge of science makes man an atheist, but an in-depth study of science makes him a believer in God. Scientists today are eliminating models of God, but they are not eliminating God. If you translate this into Arabic, it is La illaha illal la, There is no god, (god with a small ‘g’ that is fake god) but God (with a capital ‘G’).

    Surah Fussilat:

    “Soon We will show them our signs in the (farthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that thy Lord doth witness all things?”

    [Al-Quran 41:53]



    Part 1 of the introduction for non-believers showed that strong atheism contradicts its own worldview by believing the universe has a natural cause despite the lack of observational evidence for such a belief. However, since there is no direct observational evidence regarding the origin of the universe, why should one believe the equally unobserved hypothesis that God created the universe? Although there is no direct evidence for the cause of the universe, we now have a fair amount of knowledge about the early history of the universe and the laws that govern it, which provide us with indirect evidence that a super-intelligent Agent designed the universe. In order to keep this essay brief, much of the supporting information will not be included. However, you can click the links to the full-length articles for the details.

    Evidence for design?

    The best evidence for design can be seen in the nature of the universe and how it came to be. The process of discovery continues, since one of the fundamental properties of the universe, dark energy (or the cosmological constant), was discovered late in the last century. New studies continue to add to our knowledge about the universe and its extremely unlikely makeup.

    The Big Bang
    The Big Bang theory states that the universe arose from a singularity of virtually no size, which gave rise to the dimensions of space and time, in addition to all matter and energy. At the beginning of the Big Bang, the four fundamental forces began to separate from each other. Early in its history (10-36 to 10-32 seconds), the universe underwent a period of short, but dramatic, hyper-inflationary expansion. The cause of this inflation is unknown, but was required for life to be possible in the universe.

    Excess quarks
    Quarks and antiquarks combined to annihilate each other. Originally, it was expected that the ratio of quarks and antiquarks to be exactly equal to one, since neither would be expected to have been produced in preference to the other. If the ratio were exactly equal to one, the universe would have consisted solely of energy ? not very conducive to the existence of life. However, recent research showed that the charge?parity violation could have resulted naturally given the three known masses of quark families.1 However, this just pushes fine tuning a level down to ask why quarks display the masses they have. Those masses must be fine tuned in order to achieve a universe that contains any matter at all.

    Large, just right-sized universe
    Even so, the universe is enormous compared to the size of our Solar System. Isn’t the immense size of the universe evidence that humans are really insignificant, contradicting the idea that a God concerned with humanity created the universe? It turns out that the universe could not have been much smaller than it is in order for nuclear fusion to have occurred during the first 3 minutes after the Big Bang. Without this brief period of nucleosynthesis, the early universe would have consisted entirely of hydrogen.2 Likewise, the universe could not have been much larger than it is, or life would not have been possible. If the universe were just one part in 1059 larger,3 the universe would have collapsed before life was possible. Since there are only 1080 baryons in the universe, this means that an addition of just 1021 baryons (about the mass of a grain of sand) would have made life impossible. The universe is exactly the size it must be for life to exist at all.

    Early evolution of the universe
    Cosmologists assume that the universe could have evolved in any of a number of ways, and that the process is entirely random. Based upon this assumption, nearly all possible universes would consist solely of thermal radiation (no matter). Of the tiny subset of universes that would contain matter, a small subset would be similar to ours. A very small subset of those would have originated through inflationary conditions. Therefore, universes that are conducive to life “are almost always created by fluctuations into the[se] ‘miraculous’ states,” according to atheist cosmologist Dr. L. Dyson.4

    Just right laws of physics
    The laws of physics must have values very close to those observed or the universe does not work “well enough” to support life. What happens when we vary the constants? The strong nuclear force (which holds atoms together) has a value such that when the two hydrogen atoms fuse, 0.7% of the mass is converted into energy. If the value were 0.6% then a proton could not bond to a neutron, and the universe would consist only of hydrogen. If the value were 0.8%, then fusion would happen so readily that no hydrogen would have survived from the Big Bang. Other constants must be fine-tuned to an even more stringent degree. The cosmic microwave background varies by one part in 100,000. If this factor were slightly smaller, the universe would exist only as a collection of diffuse gas, since no stars or galaxies could ever form. If this factor were slightly larger, the universe would consist solely of large black holes. Likewise, the ratio of electrons to protons cannot vary by more than 1 part in 1037 or else electromagnetic interactions would prevent chemical reactions. In addition, if the ratio of the electromagnetic force constant to the gravitational constant were greater by more than 1 part in 1040, then electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing the formation of stars and galaxies. If the expansion rate of universe were 1 part in 1055 less than what it is, then the universe would have already collapsed. The most recently discovered physical law, the cosmological constant or dark energy, is the closest to zero of all the physical constants. In fact, a change of only 1 part in 10120 would completely negate the effect.

    Universal probability bounds
    “Unlikely things happen all the time.” This is the mantra of the anti-design movement. However, there is an absolute physical limit for improbable events to happen in our universe. The universe contains only 1080 baryons and has only been around for 13.7 billion years (1018 sec). Since the smallest unit of time is Planck time (10-45 sec),5 the lowest probability event that can ever happen in the history of the universe is:

    1080 x 1018 x 1045 =10143

    So, although it would be possible that one or two constants might require unusual fine-tuning by chance, it would be virtually impossible that all of them would require such fine-tuning. Some physicists have indicated that any of a number of different physical laws would be compatible with our present universe. However, it is not just the current state of the universe that must be compatible with the physical laws. Even more stringent are the initial conditions of the universe, since even minor deviations would have completely disrupted the process. For example, adding a grain of sand to the weight of the universe now would have no effect. However, adding even this small amount of weight at the beginning of the universe would have resulted in its collapse early in its history.

    What do cosmologists say?
    Even though many atheists would like to dismiss such evidence of design, cosmologists know better, and have made statements such as the following, which reveal the depth of the problem for the atheistic worldview:

    “This type of universe, however, seems to require a degree of fine-tuning of the initial conditions that is in apparent conflict with ‘common wisdom’.”6
    “Polarization is predicted. It’s been detected and it’s in line with theoretical predictions. We’re stuck with this preposterous universe.”7
    “In all of these worlds statistically miraculous (but not impossible) events would be necessary to assemble and preserve the fragile nuclei that would ordinarily be destroyed by the higher temperatures. However, although each of the corresponding histories is extremely unlikely, there are so many more of them than those that evolve without “miracles,” that they would vastly dominate the livable universes that would be created by Poincare recurrences. We are forced to conclude that in a recurrent world like de Sitter space our universe would be extraordinarily unlikely.”8
    Speculative “solutions” to the design “problem”
    The newest “solution” to design in the universe is a belief in the multi-universe theory. This theory requires one to believe that there are more universes in existence than the number of all the subatomic particles that exist in our universe. Our universe just happened to be one of the few that is able to support life. Here is what a recent article from Science says about this hypothetical “multiverse” spinning off an “infinity” of other universes:

    “Uncomfortable with the idea that physical parameters like lambda [cosmological constant] are simply lucky accidents, some cosmologists, including Hawking, have suggested that there have been an infinity of big bangs going off in a larger ‘multiverse,’ each with different values for these parameters. Only those values that are compatible with life could be observed by beings such as ourselves.”9

    What scientific evidence exists to support the multiverse model? None! Not only is there no evidence, the physics of our own universe requires that we will never be able to obtain any evidence about any other universe (even if it does exist). Even secular websites admit that such ideas amount to nothing more than unfalsifiable metaphysics:

    “Appeals to multiple or “parallel” cosmoses or to an infinite number of cosmic “Big Bang/Crunch” oscillations as essential elements of proposed mechanisms are not acceptable in submissions due to a lack of empirical correlation and testability. Such beliefs are without hard physical evidence and must therefore be considered unfalsifiable, currently outside the methodology of scientific investigation to confirm or disprove, and therefore more mathematically theoretical and metaphysical than scientific in nature. Recent cosmological evidence also suggests insufficient mass for gravity to reverse continuing cosmic expansion. The best cosmological evidence thus far suggests the cosmos is finite rather than infinite in age.”10

    According to Paul Davies:

    “Whether it is God, or man, who tosses the dice, turns out to depend on whether multiple universes really exist or not?.If instead, the other universes are relegated to ghost worlds, we must regard our existence as a miracle of such improbability that it is scarcely credible.”

    Theistic solution ? measurable design
    On the other hand, the deist or theist says that God designed the universe with just the right laws of physics. Note that neither the multiverse nor the “God hypothesis” is testable. However, the “God hypothesis” is much simpler. The naturalistic explanation requires the presence of a complicated, unproved super universe that has the capacity to randomly spew out an infinite number of universes with different laws of physics. How does this hypothetical super universe know how to do this? Why would it even want to do this? Ultimately, why should there be any universe at all? None of these questions are logically explained by naturalism. Only an intelligent Being would be motivated and expected to produce any kind of universe such as what we see. If we use Occam’s razor, which states that one should use the simplest logical explanation for any phenomenon, we would eliminate the super universe/multi-universe explanation in favor of the simpler God-designed universe model. The evidence for design in the universe and biology is so strong that Antony Flew, a long-time proponent of atheism, renounced his atheism in 2004 and now believes that the existence of a Creator is required to explain the universe and life in it. Likewise, Frank Tipler, Professor of the Department of Mathematics at Tulane University, and a former atheist, not only became a theist, but is now a born-again Christian because of the laws of physics.11

    Who created God?
    A common objection to the “God hypothesis” is the problem of how God came to be. If everything has a cause, why does God get an exception? The problem with such reasoning is that it assumes that time has always existed. In reality, time is a construct of this universe and began at the initiation of the Big Bang.12 A God who exists outside the time constraints of the universe is not subject to cause and effect. So, the idea that God has always existed and is not caused follows logically from the fact that the universe and time itself was created at the Big Bang. The Bible makes these exact claims ? that God has always existed13 and that God created time,14 along with the entire universe,15 being described as an expanding universe.16 Why can’t the universe be uncaused? Of course, it is possible that the universe is uncaused. However, there is a tremendous amount of evidence that contradicts that idea (see part 1). So, an atheist who claims to live by logic and evidence cannot arbitrarily assign eternity to a universe that is clearly temporal.

    No, God has not left His name etched onto the surface of planets. However, there is abundant evidence that the universe was designed by super intelligent Agent, who purposed that the universe should exist and be capable of supporting advanced life. The design of the universe is just one line of evidence that God created the universe. The design of the earth and solar system is also quite impressive. Likewise, chemistry and physics preclude the possibility that life evolved on earth. In addition, human beings are remarkably different from every other animal on earth, suggesting a departure from naturalistic processes.

    Abu Akil Walid ibn Terakh al-Hindi

  9. Episode IV, A NEW HOPE It is a period of civil unrest. Rebel bloggers, striking from a hidden servers, have won their first victory against the evil OPEC Empire. During the courtroom battle, Rebel spies managed to tweet secret wikileaks docs to the internet, an unarmored space station with enough power to inform an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen cables that can save her people and restore freedom to the middle east?.

    1. Tim, you just won the Internetz…

      1. Not redeemable until the DVD comes out.

    2. Mark Zuckerberg shot first!

  10. Sure would be nice if all of this street anger translated into the liberalization of the Middle East. Believe it when I see it, but you never know!

    1. Agenda:
      1. Freedom!

      2. Kill Jews!

      1. Works for me!

    2. My hopes are up but my eyes are also open. Popular revolutions do not always end in puppies, rainbows and freedom.

      Chasing the dictator out of town is only the first step.

      1. All too true.

      2. Popular revolutions do not always end in puppies, rainbows and freedom.

        Fortunately for us, the one in 2008 did.

        1. Well, maybe the first two.

        2. You forgot unicorns.

  11. So Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa of House Harkonnen Khalifa allows his nephew Rabban his uncle Khalifah ibn Sulman al-Khalifah to administer Bahrain with a heavy hand, drawing Emperor Shaddam Prince Nayef Al Saud into intervening… All according to plan, no doubt. Though that the popular discontent is taking the form of a nativistic, nationalistic character is… something unexpected. I wonder who’s leading them.

    1. What is this, literary analogy day?

      1. You’d prefer STEVE SMITH ANALogy day?



          1. I didn’t expect some kind of Rapist Inquisition.

            1. RAPE JIHAD!



            3. IS THIS YOUR BAR OF SOAP?

  12. We can only hope so.

  13. What is this thing with Steve Smith I keep seeing? Is it just liberty lovers natural dislike of the NY Giants / USC?

  14. The situtation is very different in Saudi Arabia. It’s the citizens who are conservative and the government that is liberal. The King has been trying for years to let women drive and work and institute other liberal ideas but the people say no. Plus it’s also the religious police who treat the people like crap not so much the secular police and they seem to like it.

  15. I just couldnt leave your website before saying that I really enjoyed the quality information you offer to your visitors? Will be back often to check up on new stuff you post!

  16. I certainly hope so.

  17. When I was getting a degree in Middle Eastern history back in the mid-’90s, one of my professors explained about the bridge between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. She explained that it was massively overbuilt in terms of the weight it could support and that was because the Saudis wanted to be drive tanks across it to put down any uprising in Bahrain before it went too far.

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