On Wednesday, February 7, the Bahraini Ministry of the Interior announced the arrests of four Shi'a Muslims on terrorist charges. The four men are the suspected perpetrators of the November 2017 bombing attack that destroyed an oil pipeline operated by Aramco - the Saudi national oil company - in the village of Buri, located 15 km (10 mi) outside of the capital Manama. The explosion caused the shutdown of the pipeline, which links the Bahraini Bapco refinery to the main Aramco pumping station in Saudi Arabia's Dahran province. Two of the suspects are also accused of receiving training in Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) camps in Iran and of abetting terrorist fugitives living in Iran. Three additional suspects are reportedly still being tracked down by the police.
The arrests are expected to prompt protests and consequent transportation disruptions in Shi'a neighborhoods in the coming days. Typically speaking, protests are most common in Bahrain on Thursdays and Fridays (particularly after afternoon prayers).
Shi'a Muslims in Bahrain make up a majority of the population but are governed by a Sunni royal family and a Sunni government, which Shi'as accuse of marginalizing their community. The Bahraini government regularly blames the Shia community for destabilizing the country with the support of Iran. Protests often take place in locations across Bahrain on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and can result in violent clashes.
Individuals present in Bahrain are advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations due to the risk of violence and to adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.