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Saudis Smite, Iran Turns Other Cheek

On March 14, Saudi tanks rolled across the causeway to Bahrain to help the Sunni government suppress a mainly Shia revolt. Iran, and possibly Hezbollah, were supporting some of the Shia protestors. It looks like the crackdown succeeded: the Bahraini monarchy locked up doctors, journalists, and protestors, sentenced some to death, gave others long prison terms and, with the help of the Saudi “Peninsula Shield Force”, successfully suppressed the revolt. This was a victory for Sunni autocrats in the Gulf; it was also a resounding, but under-reported, defeat for Iran.

The always informative MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) has an excellent report on how the Bahrain crackdown exposed Teheran’s weak influence in the Gulf and the lack of real power behind Iran’s attempts at “exporting the Revolution”.  No Iranian forces were mobilized and the few statements by Iranian leaders in defense of the Bahraini protestors petered out very quickly.  The threat of suicide bombers attacking Saudi forces in Bahrain never materialized. The Saudis, by contrast, were firing on all cylinders: “The military move was followed by the closure of dozens of Iranian and Shi’ite media channels by Gulf states; the expulsion of Iranian diplomats by Kuwait; the sharp escalation in anti-Iran rhetoric; calls for economic warfare against Iran through the expulsion of Iranians working in the Gulf; and calls for inciting the Arab Ahwazi population in Iran.”

I won’t say this was pretty and I won’t say I’m glad it happened — but the Saudis did what they set out to do.  Contrast that with US action in Libya — and ask yourself how much attention the Saudis are paying to any advice coming out of Washington these days.

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