Separating out the legitimate protest movement from the Iranian fronts who damage their cause
Defenders of the royal family in Bahrain and its suppression of protests calling for greater democracy often claim that the protests are in fact Iranian-inspired and even Iranian-run. Needless to say, the leaders of the various protest movements deny this angrily.
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I have tended to view these Bahraini government claims as unreliable and probably false, for it is too easy simply to paint the (mostly Shia) opposition as unpatriotic and tied to the Iranian regime. But now there is evidence that in at least one case, the accusations are correct. The Evening Standard newspaper in London revealed this week that the "Bahraini Freedom Movement" in London appears to be an Iranian front organization.
The article states that:
These facts, and others noted by the Standard, suggest that Shehabi is no human rights activist nor a genuine proponent of democracy in Bahrain. They do not, of course, discredit the Bahraini opposition nor do they justify the ways in which it has been repressed--sometimes brutally--by the government. But they are a reminder that Iran is indeed mucking around in Bahraini politics and that Bahrain has a legitimate interest in preventing this. Moreover, they should elicit strong denunciations from every genuine human rights organization in Bahrain, for Shehabi has damaged the cause.
This article originally appeared at CFR.org