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March 14, 2011

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well, shibbit.

That's not far off from what I feared.

This is ten pounds of crazy stuffed into a five pound bag, with stupid sparklers sticking out of it.

The real problem is that Bahrain's citizenry have a lot more information and fiberoptic infrastructure than, say, Egypt, and the GCC has rivalries both political and dynastic within it.

Except that the GCC troops are mostly Saudi, right? Will they flinch when it comes to to pull the trigger?

The core of the troops sent over are, but half again as many UAE cops are there. BUT the Kuwaitis aren't thrilled with the use of the GCC this way, and the Qataris hate the Khalifas, and may rather see the dynasty fall than rescue it.

The Saudis appear to have communicated within the GCC that their intervention is to preempt the Iranians, and so far, Saudi troops are securing the Khalifas and key economic/military points. BUT members of the Bahraini government have mumbled about using the Saudi troops to clear the streets.

No, I don't think that they'd flinch when it came to shooting.

Does this signal that the Saudis are stepping up to try to rival the Iranians on their own and in their own way?

That's more or less been their stance since 1979 (hence support for Iraq in 1980, the creation of the GCC, mediation on the Lebanese Civil War).

Iraq's collapse into failed state in 2003 made the jockeying for influence and leverage overt and confrontations direct (as has Saudi/GCC cooperation with Israel, which is on the wane for the moment) as Iran moved into a vacuum.

This is the Saudis acting outside of their alliance with the US to try to manage a couple of fears: 1) a violent check on growing Iranian power 2) a check against democratization (which would put an end to the House of Saud) 3) the rise of Shi'a political agency on Saudi borders.

Ironically, if they'd invaded Yemen and killed off the Houthis, fewer people would know, care, and it would probably secure Saudi Arabia in the above regards. This is the most clumsy execution of those interests (anywhere where the Saudis see democracy and Shia they see the Revolutionary Guard, like a Jacobin band or something)

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