Canary in a (Saudi) Coal Mine

Not a perfect analogy, I’ll admit. But something huge seems to be brewing in the tiny island nation of Bahrain.

The king of Bahrain declared a three-month state of emergency on Tuesday as more than 10,000 protesters marched on the Saudi Arabian embassy here to denounce a military intervention by Persian Gulf countries the day before.

The entrance of foreign forces, including Saudi troops and those from other Gulf nations, threatened to escalate a local political conflict into a regional showdown;

As vulnerable as any modern dictatorship and perhaps more, Saudi Arabia welcomes no semblance of the regional revolutions that have swept away the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia. The royal family may see the writing on the wall, but sending in 1,200 troops to the tiny country with a Shia’a majority, governed by a Sunni minority and historically a part of Iran… they may need to call in a translator. The thing is, with Bahrain as longtime host to our own Navy’s Fifth Fleet, the U.S. may not have any better advice to offer. Which is awful.

The Saudis may be trying to nip this unrest in the bud, but they are just as likely to escalate it with these actions. It’s a test case/ microcosm of the situation in Saudi Arabia itself. We have armed them to the teeth over the years, sure, but made (nor attempted) few inroads with regard to Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes… much less the case of King Juan Carlos of Spain.

And this is no pass-the-popcorn moment; just go fill your car up and see.