Six Bahrainis have been jailed for 15 years for being part of an Iran-backed terrorist cell planning attacks against strategic targets Bahrain, including the Saudi-Bahrain causeway, interior ministry and Saudi embassy. Three of them are still at large and were sentenced in absentia, including alleged masterminds UK-based Ali Mushaima and Abdulraouf Al Shayeb. Two others were acquitted.
They were also convicted of seeking to overthrow the government, suspend the Constitution and encroach on individual freedoms and rights.
Four of the defendants are said to have been arrested in Qatar before being handed over to Bahrain's security services on 4 November, while the fifth was later arrested in Bahrain. They were reportedly on their way to Iran to receive training in explosives and firearms.
May 27, 2012
Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk
The verdicts have been viewed as overly harsh by opponents of the regime. Whilst the charges appear serious, the Shiite opposition accuse the regime of fabricating them. The opposition reacted angrily at the verdicts.
Whatever the actual position is, the harshness of the verdicts and reaction of the opposition will lead to a complication of the already tense political situation and further distance the chances of an immediate political solution. They will also increase the risk of further civil unrest.
All of the above will also continue to stifle any recovery in private sector economic growth and make growth continue to rely on public sector spending which in turn rely on oil income and Saudi Arabian support.
The figure below shows the majority of the Bahrain population are Shiites: