TLIAD: The Triumph of the March Intifada


The National Union Committee of Bahrain, a key force in the 1950's in Bahrain

Bahrain had been festering since the suppression of the 1956 protests. Although it had taken on the appearance of normality, dissent had been building up. The original demands for a small amount of representation in the government and British supervision of this representation had been ignored, and the were now being seen as too soft by many inhabitants of Bahrain, particularly the youth of the country. Although many still believed in peaceful reform of the current system, a number of Bahrainis, influenced by Arab Nationalist ideology coming from Egypt and other areas of the Arab world, were beginning to contemplate a more radical change in Bahrain. This is the story of their triumph.

9th October, 1964 - Sitrah, Bahrain

Ahmad al-Janabi Pulled his small boat up to the beach around half a mile down the coast from the village of Sitrah, on the island of the same name. He saw the campfire of Ali al-Shaikh, his contact here. He shouted his name, and gestured for him to come over.

“You must be Ahmad, yes?”

“Correct. I’ve got what your comrades asked us for right here”

Ahmad pulled back the sheet that covered part of his boat. Underneath was a small arsenal of guns, ammunition and various other weaponry.

“How many here?” Ali enquired.

“Not much. 20 AK-47s, 30 Makarovs. I even managed to get a RPG in there”

“And this is supposed to kick out the British garrison and the security forces of the whole country? Is this a joke?”

“No joke. Even getting this through was hard enough”

“You cannot be serious. You could have easily brought more on that shitty little dhow of yours”

“Look, you can take it or leave it. Be creative with them, I’m sure you can manage something interesting. And in the name of god would you please stop insulting me and my boat!”

“I wasn’t insulting you, I was insulting the boat”

“Look, I was offended anyway, and we are getting sidetracked. Do you actually want what I’ve got here or have I got to risk getting these back to Oman with the British crawling all over the gulf?”

Ali took another look over the guns, contemplating for a moment before turning back to Ahmad. “Well, I guess they will suffice. They would certainly be better than knives”.

“That they would be. As I am said, you’re sure to find a use for them. You should really read this”

Ahmad pulled an English copy of Mao-Tse Tung’s On Guerrilla Warfare, and handed it to Ali.

Ali looked quizzically at the book and said “What use is this going to be? I can only speak a few words of English, never mind read any of it”

Ahmad looked increasingly annoyed at the obtuseness of his contact. “I’m sure you know someone who does. Ask them to translate it for you”

Both men looked toward the main island of Bahrain. “Take these over to Jurdab with me. From there on, I can take it to the rest of my comrades myself”. Ahmad got into the boat. Ali gave a push to it, and then got into the boat himself. Both sailed off to the main island of Bahrain, finishing the last leg of a journey that would change Bahrain forever…
Are these conversation bits really required?

No, but I will do it anyway, as I love hearing the sound of myself typing.

Aren't you concerned about jumping onto the bandwagon and abandoning your hipster ideals?

All I want to do is to be popular. Plus, it is good to try something new every once in a while

Aren't you just being a bit lazy?

Hey, I've got a main timeline going too. If anything, this just demonstrates that I'm willing to put time into a hobby of mine.

Are you ever going to write a piece of alternate history that isn't centered around the Middle East?

Stop complaining. I really don't have to justify myself to you.

Is this timeline going to be epicly epic and change the world?

Not a chance.

Will this actually be finished in a day?

Unlikely. Unless we are going by Bahraini time of course. Though it shouldn't last any more than a few days at any rate.

So what will actually change in the timeline?

You could try actually reading the thing and finding out. All will be revealed soon enough. If you have the attention span.
Very cool. When you mentioned Bahrain, I expected an Arab Spring POD, but this is a lot better. I don't know nearly as much about the Gulf states during this period as I should, but I'll look forward to the rest of the story.
15th March 1965 – Manama, Bahrain

It was already the third day of the protests, and they showed no signs of calming. Two platoons of British soldiers were stood outside the home of the British advisor to the local ruler. The protestors seemed to be getting more incensed every moment at the Brits.

“I don’t really know why they are keeping us here. If anything we just seem to be making them angrier” Peter Howard was the captain of the Bahrain Garrison. To him, the move to use his company as policemen rather than its traditional role as a reserve force was rather nonsensical, but orders were orders.

“Captain, is there any way these people are going to shut up? It’s the middle of the day, I’m thirsty and we’ve not had anything to drink yet”

“Hold your tongue! It’s only March; you should see how hot this place gets in the summer”

Before they could continue their conversation about the weather, a stone hit the head of Private Turner.

“Jesus, those Arabs are throwing things at us no. Is there really no way to retaliate?”

“I’ve sent one of the messengers down to the Bahraini police to see if they can guard the place instead of us. We are soldiers, not policemen, after all.”



A protest in Central Manama

The protests were even more violent at the palace of Emir Isa. The people had initially hoped that the new ruler would be somewhat more amenable to democracy than his father was, but Isa had refused the demands of democratic and other leftist protestors as strongly as his father did. Now that he was allowing the British to lay off hundreds of Bahrainis, people had lost patience with him.

“Down Down Isa!” Hundreds of protestors chanted this, as the guards of the emir’s palace stood by to deal with any trouble makers. However, the situation was about to explode, thanks to a cabal of young leftist protestors who had come into the possession of some weapons a few months ago.

“Hussein, are you sure that this is a good idea? Those guards look pretty alert to me…”

“Alert to the danger they can see, not to the one they can’t”

Khadem pulled out his Markov pistol, and gestured for his men to do the same. Without speaking, he aimed the gun, and fired it in the direction of the Bahraini police.

One of the policemen went down immediately as the bullet slashed his jugular. The other policemen immediately began firing into the mostly unarmed crowd with live ammunition. There was screaming and a scramble of men as they tried to escape from the furious guards as quickly as possible.

Khadem and his men managed to make quick their escape before being caught by the police, but their main objective had been achieved. People were now away that they were willing to resort to violence in order to see the rights of the Bahraini people protected. And it looked as though the police had taken the bait…


“This is the building, isn’t it?” Mohammad looked confused at his squad. How could such an unimpressive building, inadequately guarded, be the man armoury for the Bahraini security forces?

“It certainly is. Khadem’s distraction must have worked” Jassim looked at the building with a look of hope on his face. “Maybe we can pull this thing off” he thought to himself.

“NOW!” Jassim shouted out and immediately, the men started firing their AK-47’s at the guards of the facility. The guards were clearly not expecting an attack of this ferocity, and a number actually ran no doubt to tell their superiors and to bring reinforcements. The fire fight itself lasted only a few minutes before the guards had either all fled, or were dead.

“We don’t have much time. Start grabbing what you can and put it in the car”. There was a treasure trove of weaponry and ammunition. There were L1A1 rifles, even a few Boys anti-tank rifles. They had really hit the jackpot.

“We pulled it off! We actually really pulled it off!” Mohammad looked elated at the success of the day. It had indeed been a great success for the People’s Democratic Front of Bahrain. They now had more small arms then they knew what to do with, and the people were angrier with the government than they had ever been. Things looked good for the Bahraini revolution.


Well, just to clarify, this won't exactly be a Maoism wank, as Maoism was hardly the only ideology opposed to the Emir, although there were a number of Maoists. In Bahrain at the time, Arab nationalism was the dominant ideology, as will be seen later on in the TL.
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18th March 1965 – Bahrain

After the events of “Bloody Monday”, the protests against the British presence in Bahrain had grown much more severe. Around 12 people had been killed by the Bahraini police, who suffered 2 casualties. People were now calling for the removal of the royal family and their “Foreign Mercenaries” as well as the withdrawal of the British garrison. There had been pitched battles in the two cities of Bahrain, Manama and Muharraq, and the government had more or less lost control of the villages of the North West of Bahrain. The situation was becoming worse by the day for Emir Isa.

“Our policemen are holding the line in the souk, but the area between that and Diwan fort is entirely under the thumb of these rebels”

Emir Isa shouted “Nasser! It is the fault of that Egyptian donkey!”

“It may very well be his fault Emir, but we have to deal with the situation in front of us. Should we appeal to the Saudis to help?”

“If we got the Saudis in here, they would never leave. Perhaps our British allies would be a better choice to help us”

Isa considered the proposal. There was always the danger that the British could refuse and leave, which would put the independence of his country into question. But the status quo could not be allowed to continue, and the rebels had to be crushed one way or the other. It was with this in mind that he sent a request to the British ambassador for military assistance in taking back rebel held areas.


Protesters at "Bab al-Bahrain" before the revolt turned violent

19th March - Bahrain

“What was up with that guy? Most of these natives are pretty easy to fight off, but by God, he must have been in that room for about a quarter of an hour!”

Sergeant Cunningham looked around at the carnage on the street. His squad, all things considered, had done quite well. Only one of his men had been shot, and they had killed at least 26 rebels. His squad had it pretty good though. The squad that had been sent to hold Bab-al-Bahrain had nearly been overwhelmed, as a number of rebel squads had tried to take the landmark. There were still many parts of Manama that were solidly controlled by the rebels, but thanks to the British, the Government was at least making progress.

While thinking of the improving situation, Cunningham’s squad was attacked once again. Poor Private Smith went down after being hit three times, and the squad immediately ducked for cover.

“They’re coming from the north! Concentrate fire there!” Cunningham wasted no time in panicking, and merely seconds after the attack, was leading his forces as they defended themselves against the ambush. After a fire fight that lasted around a minute and a half, Cunningham took stock. Not only had Private Smith been killed, but Corporal Harrison had been injured in a very bad way. It was not such a good day after all. Cunningham thought to himself “What on earth are we fighting for here?” It was a sentiment that was increasingly being thought by a number of British administrators in Bahrain, who had privately disdained the al-Khalifa clan, even while serving it publically.

20th March - London

“The honourable member Mr Colin Jackson wants to speak”

“I would like to direct this question toward Mr George Thompson. Sir, considering the recent disturbances in Bahrain, I would like to invite you to make a statement concerning the civil unrest in that nation”

This was a question that George was dreading, but nonetheless, he tried to answer to the best of his abilities. “I must emphatically state that Her Majesty’s government is not responsible for the internal affairs of the British protected states in the Gulf. Our only responsibility there is to protect the government with which we have treaties with…”

“But the situation has become more serious has it not? I have in my hand, a list of 5 British soldiers who have been killed today and yesterday in trying to repress a revolution on the island! I would like to ask the honourable members in the government if the British army is to be used elsewhere as a bludgeon against revolutionary governments. Have our labour leaders, having justly criticised the conservatives a number of years ago regarding their opposition to Colonel Nasser now took it upon themselves to suppress people seeking freedom of other areas?”

“The situation has become more severe. Marxists in Yemen have supplied these rebels…”

“And where is the proof for this wild accusation?” The Labour backbenches began to be riled up in righteous indignation at the governments mishandling of British forces in the Gulf. The backlash to the British intervention in the conflict had begun.