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Bahrain is the linchpin of Middle East sectarian war – failure of the US to act makes conflict inevitable
Justin Gengler, PhD Candidate in Political Science at the University of Michigan, 4-20-2011, “The Bahraini Time Bomb,” http://bahrainipolitics.blogspot.com/2011/04/bahraini-time-bomb.html
The arrival of the GCC force emboldened Bahraini authorities to carry out a lethal crackdown on all political dissent, driving the entire Gulf region off a sectarian cliff. Iran has called for the withdrawal of the “occupying force” in Bahrain, warning Saudi Arabia that in leading the charge for military intervention it is “playing with fire.” In an April 3 summit communiqué, GCC foreign ministers accused Iran of “violating the sovereignty” of Arab Gulf nations, several of which have expelled Iranian diplomats and nationals said to be members of spy rings. Iran has responded in turn. For their part, prominent Sunni clerics in Bahrain have called publicly for the permanent basing of a GCC force inside their country to stave off the Iranian—and internal Shi‘a—threat. This sectarian fever has now spread well beyond the Gulf. Saying that the “atmosphere is not right,” the GCC is demanding the cancellation of the upcoming Arab summit to be held in Iraq, whose Shi‘a politicians and population have been rallying in support of the Bahraini opposition in recent weeks. Bahrain has also strained relations with Lebanon following statements by Hizballah leaders expressing solidarity with Bahrain’s Shi‘a, deporting more than a dozen Lebanese ex-patriots for “security reasons” and suspending flights to Beirut for fear that they will be used to traffic weapons. In short, the Arab Spring has set the stage for the emergence of a more unified, more vigorous, and more independent GCC under the leadership of Saudi Arabia, a political-cum-military alliance designed explicitly as a regional counterweight to Iran and its assumed proxy states in the Levant. Whether in its unprecedented intervention in Bahrain or, more recently, its conspicuous participation in air strikes in Libya, this revitalized GCC operates on the principle that, if they can no longer count on U.S. government support, perhaps they ought to start leaning more on each other. Thus, if the United States hopes to diffuse this “new Mideast Cold War” before it transforms into open conflict, and before the U.S. sheds even more of its influence among the GCC states, it would do well to begin with the continued symbol of the entire crisis, Bahrain. In the three months that have elapsed since protests began there, not one step has been taken in the direction of resolving the country’s underlying political conflict. Until that happens, the Middle East time-bomb will continue ticking.
AT Iran rational
Ash Jain, a former member of the State Department Policy Planning Staff, is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute, 9-22-2011, “The World According to Ahmadinejad ,” Washington Institute, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC06.php?CID=1720
Looking at current events, it is easy to understand why Iran's leaders might exude so much confidence. The West continues to be mired in high levels of debt and unemployment, Israel is struggling in the face of diplomatic isolation, and the Arab Spring rolls on. Recent headlines from Iran's Press TV capture the sentiment: "US, Israel Cannot Stop MENA Uprisings," "US Moving Towards Total Collapse," and "Capitalism on Death Bed." Superficially, such events may reinforce the Iranian narrative. But viewed in context, Tehran's perceptions are utterly [detached] from reality. True, the global economy continues to sputter, but does anyone else really believe that capitalism and democracy are on their way out? Israel may be outvoted at the U.N., but the region's strongest military power is not about to disappear. And the Arab Spring lives on in Syria -- a close Iranian ally -- while the Iranian revolution has played virtually no role in any of the recent Middle East uprisings. So does it really matter that Iran's leaders seem to truly believe in this stuff? Absolutely. The warped worldview reflected in Ahmadinejad's remarks is what drives Iran's confrontational posture toward the West -- and serves as the inspiration for its dangerous nuclear ambitions. Given the Islamic Republic's far-reaching ambitions, a nuclear weapons capability could be particularly devastating. Consequently, Iran must remain at the top of the national security agenda. The U.S. must be more pro-active in countering Iran's propaganda machine and breathing new life into the suppressed Green Movement. At the same time, the United States must be prepared to ramp up sanctions and take all necessary actions to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Given their irrational exuberance, Iran's leaders could use a dose of reality.
Credible US engagement prevents opposition groups from accepting Iranian backing
POMED, Project on Middle East Democracy, 7-18-2011, “POMED Notes: Maryam al-Khawaja – An Update on Bahrain,” http://pomed.org/blog/2011/07/pomed-notes-maryam-al-khawaja-an-update-on-bahrain.html/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+POMED_blog+%28Project+on+Middle+East+Democracy+Blog%29&utm_content=Google+Reader
Al-Khawaja is also concerned about the rising Sunni/Shi’a divide. Previously, any division was enforced by the government to keep the Shi’a marginalized. Today, because of the uprisings, the Shi’a/Sunni divide has shifted into society and is taking hold at many levels of societies. She worries about increased sectarian violence both in Bahrain and in neighboring countries. During the Q&A session, al-Khawaja discussed the issue of Iranian influence. She described the demands of the protesters as being rooted in a desire for a secular Bahraini government, not an Iranian styled government. Al-Khawaja also noted the current opportunity facing the U.S. to engage with the opposition and stem the tide of nascent anti-American sentiment within Bahrain. She described the opposition as needing a serious international patron, and many wish for the U.S. to play that role. However, she also noted that absent any credible U.S. engagement, some protesters might be tempted to look towards other regional actors, perhaps Iran, to gain the requisite international support. She urged the U.S. to become more outspoken in their desire for credible change in Bahrain to prevent other regional actors from negatively influencing events in Bahrain and compromising American national interests. Al-Khawaja noted that Saudi/GCC troops are still in the country, despite reports that they may have left. She described the entrance of the troops as a symptom of the incredibly vulnerable position that the Bahraini regime was in, when they requested the troops. She still believes the Bahraini government has control over the country, but with the presence of Saudi troops, it is only logical that the Saudi government would exert some influence. She called on European and American governments to increase the pressure on the Bahraini government, if not for human rights, but because it is in European and American national interests to do so.
Bahrain sectarian conflict causes ME war
Peter Pearson, Lieutenant General and Deputy Commander of NATO's Southern Command, 8-4-2011, “Bahrain and the Arab Spring: time for some realism,” Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/bahrain/8681885/Bahrain-and-the-Arab-Spring-time-for-some-realism.html
At this point, it’s worth considering what would have been the consequences if Bahrain had deteriorated into civil war: Iran would have been emboldened; Sunni Arabs in Gulf states, notably Saudi Arabia, would have felt increasingly insecure and almost certainly taken action; the world economy would have taken a knock from the impact of higher oil prices; the West would have lost a firmly western-looking ally; and extreme Islamist elements in Pakistan and around the world would have felt emboldened. Instead, Bahrain’s security forces intervened and other Gulf states, led by the Saudis, occupied key strategic installations. Even as order was being restored, sadly at the cost of two dozen lives, the reality of sectarian violence loomed. Reporting was one sided. For example, it never reached the public domain that Sunnis needing medical treatment at the Salmaniya hospital were pre-screened out. Some arriving in ambulances were attacked. Sunni migrant workers from the Indian sub-continent were also attacked. Four were killed and one had his tongue cut out. With a Shia population on its Gulf coast, there was and remains little prospect of Saudi Arabia acquiescing in the establishment of a Shia-dominated state on its doorstep. A transition to full democracy would in reality be a transition to something very different. In his brilliant book on the art of war in the modern world, General Sir Rupert Smith argued that the paradigm of industrialised warfare between nation states has given way to what he called "war amongst the people". Igniting Shia-Sunni tensions in Bahrain would inevitably have repercussions across a region that is geo-strategically the most fragile and dangerous in the world. Once started, it could be years and more probably decades before a new equilibrium is found. As Clausewitz wrote, the only decisive victory is the last one. Sometimes, perhaps, it’s more prudent to hang on to what you have and make the best of it.
At: cherry picking – no risk of turn us perception is the plan and i/l they haven’t didputed as long as us is perceived as getting involved we have enough to avoid the war -