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Bahraini regime following Saudi dictates on opposition: Analyst

This file photo taken on May 17, 2013 shows Bahraini top Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, giving a speech to worshipers during the Friday prayers at a mosque in the village of Diraz, west of the capital Manama. (Photo by AFP)

Press TV has conducted an interview with Colin Cavell, a former lecturer at the University of Bahrain from Virginia, about Bahraini Al Khalifa regime’s decision to put senior Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim on trial on Wednesday.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: As we discussed at the past as well, for people in Bahrain Sheikh Isa Qassim is a red line of sorts and we saw that anger pour out to the streets, when the Al Khalifa regime announces decision to revoke the cleric’s citizenship. How do you see things panning out when this trial is set to begin?

Cavell: For me this is a test of wills and a test of the relative forces. The regime is bringing Sheikh Isa Qassim to trial to see just exactly how much support he actually has within the kingdom. In other words, they want to test to see how far they can go. Should they put him in jail? Should they put him in exile? And so this court case is a test to see exactly how much support he has within the country.

Press TV: Right now, Mr. Cavell, isn’t that a dangerous gamble to make, so to speak, considering that this could go very wrong for the Al Khalifa regime as the anger spills out?

Cavell: The whole Egyptian strategy that has been undertaken within the last month by the Al Khalifa dictatorship is a risky strategy, but from their perspective they are following the dictates of Saudi Arabia who is funding all of this. And their conclusion is that they want to silence all opposition and put all the leaders in jail or exile or revoke their citizenship and they want to get rid of this five-year-old rebellion. And so, with the country’s top Shia leader, the most respective cleric in Bahrain and in many parts of the Middle East, they want to see exactly how much support the opposition can muster.

Press TV: There has been a concerted effort to clamp down on the clergy in Bahrain just yesterday we saw an arrest of three more clerics in Bahrain. Why is the Al Khalifa regime cracking down on the religious leadership there?

Cavell: Well, whether cracking down on, is on the leadership of the Shia followers; so, this is part and parcel of the regime’s narrative which claims that there’s a sectarian divide between Shia and Sunni and that only the Shia citizens oppose the monarchy. But having lived in Bahrain, I know very well that the majority of people both Sunni and Shia oppose the monarchy of Al Khalifa, because they all recognize this is a dictatorship. It is against the Quran and it is against the will of our creator who gave us all a rational mind to think and act and create the type of government that will govern our lives.

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