Nov 25, 2006

Info Op Part Of Bahrain Effort Against Shiites

Friction between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in this strategic Persian Gulf kingdom, which is holding its second parliamentary elections in three decades, has clouded the voting set here for Saturday.

The campaign for the National Assembly's 40-member lower house has been marred by an alleged plot by a senior government official to rig the elections in favor of the ruling Sunni minority.

A 214-page report disclosed in September accused a senior official of secretly plotting to sideline the country's majority Shiites. The report, released by a former government adviser, is the latest in a series of events that have exacerbated Sunni-Shiite discord in this nation of 700,000, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. ...

The report included copies of checks, bank statements showing large sums transferred to anti-Shiite figures and a memo calling for Shiites to be "cleansed" from Bahrain.

According to the report, more than $2.5 million was spent on the scheme, which also included plans to manipulate electronic voting to rig the upcoming elections in favor of Sunnis.

The report named people it said were hired to cause friction between the two sects by writing inflammatory articles, posting offensive comments on popular online forums, denigrating Shiite beliefs and casting suspicion on Shiites' patriotism.

Over the past couple of years, Bahraini Shiites have been accused by Sunnis and some in the government of allegiance to Shiite Iran, with which they have historic religious ties, and of ambitions to dominate the country, emboldened by the empowerment of Iraq's majority Shiites.

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