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.