CONCERNS that Saturday’s air strikes targeting Syrian chemical weapons facilities could provoke demonstrations in Bahrain have been expressed by the UK and American governments.
Both have cautioned their citizens to avoid any demonstrations.
The UK, the US and France struck at the heart of Syria’s chemical weapons programme by launching 105 missiles, in response to a deadly chlorine and sarin gas attack in Douma on April 7 by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
The UK says protests are possible in known trouble-spots in Bahrain where opposition supporters operate.
It specifically cites Sitra, Bani Jamra, Karbabad, Saar, Karzakan and areas around the Budaiya Highway as possible flashpoints.
Iran is helping prop up Al Assad’s government in Syria, while providing money, equipment and training to radical militants in Bahrain.
The UK advisory warns that terrorists are “very likely” to attempt attacks here.
“Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Bahrain,” it says.
“Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.”
It also advises UK nationals to leave the scene of any protest “immediately”.
“There is currently an increased security presence in Bahrain,” it says.
“You should follow the advice of the local authorities and if you encounter a large demonstration, protest or any civil disturbances, leave the area immediately.”
The Bahrain government has announced its support for the air strikes, which targeted three chemical weapons facilities including a research and development centre in Damascus.
However, the US also acknowledges the air strikes could provoke a backlash.
“Due to regional developments there is potential for spontaneous demonstrations to take place in Bahrain over the coming days and possibly beyond,” says the latest US travel advisory.
“While we have no information indicating a threat to American citizens, we encourage you to continually exercise the appropriate level of security awareness in regard to anti-US activity or events.
“We remind US citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.”
Saturday’s air strikes signalled the biggest intervention by the West against Al Assad since Syria’s civil war started in 2011.