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On Monday, May 16, Iran and the pro-American Arab states had a frightening stare-down as Iran sent a flotilla to Bahrain to support the Shiites protesting against the ruling Royal Family. The provocation came after months of heated rhetoric and threats. As the region stood on the verge of another major crisis and possibly war, Iran blinked.
The Iranian Revolution Supporters Association sent the two ships with about 150 activists, doctors and clerics onboard. One-third of the participants were women, and ten children were also included. The objective was to “bring a message of solidarity with the oppressed and tyrannized people of Bahrain.” An Iranian website had been registering volunteers to fight in Bahrain. Nearly 2,000 had been recruited by late March, and there were reports that the flotilla was transporting some of them.
The region was tense as the flotilla was dispatched. One former Bahraini legislator said it’d be an act of war if it entered the country’s waters, and the Gulf Cooperation Council offered membership to Jordan and Morocco. A senior Kuwaiti official told a newspaper, “Kuwait will not hesitate to defend the Kingdom of Bahrain against any danger that may threaten its security…Bahrain’s waters are a red line, and Kuwaiti naval forces deployed there…will not allow any Iranian ship to approach the kingdom’s shores.”
The flotilla stopped half-way and returned to Iran. The activists dropped 5,000 letters of support for the Bahraini protesters into the ocean. The reason for the abandoning of the mission was “the emergence of threats from the ships of the Peninsula Shield Force and the possibility of attacks.” Iran and those commanding the flotilla did not have the stomach for a repeat of the Turkish flotilla incident of May 31, 2010.
Iran’s decision to back away from direct confrontation is surprising because the Iranian regime has been trying to justify military intervention in Bahrain. The regime’s documentary about its role in Islamic prophecy, The Coming is Upon Us, made clear that it believes it is required to soon lead an Arab coalition in destroying Israel, and that the uprisings against pro-American governments is a fulfillment of that destiny.
Supreme Leader Khamenei’s representative to the universities boldly said, “The uprising in Bahrain is the best opportunity to begin setting the stage for the emergence of the Twelfth Imam, our Mahdi. He also said, “The situation in Bahrain alone could be the catalyst to cause the disintegration of the United States and lead to the downfall of that straw empire.”
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