Small Wars Journal

In Bahrain, a Smoldering Insurgency Reveals the Resilience of Iran’s Proxy War

In Bahrain, a Smoldering Insurgency Reveals the Resilience of Iran’s Proxy War by Souad Mekhennet, Missy Ryan and Shane Harris – Washington Post

The Trump administration has vowed to crack down on Iran’s support for powerful militias across the Middle East. But a low-level insurgency in the Kingdom of Bahrain represents a different sort of challenge for the United States.

American authorities say insurgent activity in Bahrain, a key hub for U.S. naval operations, has increased over the past year as a handful of Iranian-backed groups armed with smuggled weapons plan attacks against security forces.

Unlike in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, where large forces supported by Iran are equipped with heavy weaponry and wield increasing political clout, insurgents in Bahrain — where the majority of the population is Shiite — are lightly equipped and operate in cloistered cells as they plot small-scale assaults.

U.S. officials characterize the island nation, with its Sunni Arab leadership, heavy police presence and tiny size, as an inhospitable environment for Iranian-linked operatives, who have freer rein in other countries.

But the officials say that providing arms-length, opportunistic support to Bahraini militants offers Shiite Iran a low-cost opportunity to advance its objectives at a time when its main military effort is directed elsewhere…

Read on.