Bahrain’s hopes of being able to stage a rescheduled Grand Prix are not effectively dead in the water.
The nation’s royal family declaring a three-month state of emergency in the wake of escalating political violence, with the country becoming more unstable by the day as violence threatens to spill over into the region.
|All hopes of rescheduling Bahrain’s GP are over|
The country’s sovereign ruler, King Hamad, has made the declaration following the deployment of armed forces from Saudi Arabia to the strife-torn kingdom as anti-government protestors continue to call for a change in government.
According to the latest reports, at least 200 protestors have been shot and wounded in a village south of the capital city, Manama, as the majority Shi’ite population – which is grossly underrepresented in the largely Sunni-led government that has ruled for over two centuries – continues to call for more democratic rights and representation in government.
Any hopes of returning to normal will only realistically come to be well after the extended May 1 deadline offered by the FIA in which to decide whether a race held later in the year would be possible.
With Bahrain’s tourism and finance industries already at breaking point, the arrival of foreign military to help prop up the regime is unlikely to improve matters in the short term.
Over 1,000 troops – mostly Saudis – arrived from neighbouring Gulf states on Monday, highlighting concerns that the violence in Bahrain could spread to other countries in the region, notably Saudi Arabia itself.
The troops are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Peninsula Shield Force, a six-nation alliance made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The threat of sectarian violence between the Shi’ite and Sunni populations is becoming more prevalent, and now pro-government groups are weighing in to the protests as well, with reports that the offices of the main opposition newspaper were trashed after being stormed.
At this stage, the United States government – which operates a military base for its naval Fifth Fleet in Bahrain – has remained fairly quiet on the matter, aside from calling on all parties to enter into peaceful negotiations. It has not, however, suggested that the troop alliance withdraws, perhaps amid concerns that upping sticks and moving its military base might do more harm than good.
In any respect, these are concerns that are bigger than F1 itself, and surely a sensible decision would be to suspend further consideration of staging an event there for the foreseeable future.