Analysis: Bahrain’s security now may cost it stability later

 (Reuters) – A brutal crackdown by Bahrain’s Sunni rulers has crushed dissent but also alienated its Shi’ite majority, raising the risk of a simmering civil conflict that could threaten the rest of the oil-producing region.

Shi’ite Muslims, who have long complained of economic and political discrimination, say the aftermath of a crackdown on pro-democracy protests has become darker as arrests, disappearances and the dismissal of hundreds of mainly Shi’ites from their jobs become more common.

Many Shi’ites opt to stay home rather than run the gauntlet of checkpoints scattered around the capital, where they say they fear they could be beaten or simply disappear. “Re-Tweet this if you feel you are not safe in your own country” is one Twitter message doing the rounds.

Police sweeps through hospitals, looking for injuries that signal protest involvement, have deterred people from seeking treatment and health facilities are being used as “bait” to identify and arrest people, Medecins Sans Frontieres said.

“It is as if they are trying to wipe us out. I don’t mean by killings, I mean people are getting fired, they are afraid to go out, they are arrested,” said Mattar Ibrahim Mattar, a member of the largest Shi’ite opposition group, Wefaq.


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