The Alliance for Global Unity, informally known as The Circle, was an organized Bajoran extremist faction led by Jaro Essa, that emerged after the Cardassian withdrawal from the Occupation of Bajor in 2369. The Circle attempted to seize power on Bajor and Deep Space 9 in 2370.
Fifty years of the Cardassian Empire's oppressive rule created a fierce Bajoran desire for independence. After their liberation in 2369, many Bajorans found it insulting when the Provisional Government invited the Federation to oversee DS9. Even Kira Nerys, the station's Bajoran liaison officer, believed the Federation had no right to be there. Like others, she had little respect for the provisional government, but she was willing to abide by its decision. Others, like Kohn-Ma member Tahna Los, were unwilling to wait for change. Shortly after the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole, Tahna attempted to destroy it, believing the Federation, Cardassia, and the rest of the Alpha Quadrant would leave Bajor alone once it was gone. (DS9: "Emissary", "Past Prologue")
Initially, the bulk of the Bajoran people harbored little ill-will for the Federation, but tensions rose when Federation and Bajoran cultures clashed. When Keiko O'Brien opened a school aboard DS9, most of her students were Bajoran. Her teachings of the wormhole's nature and "wormhole aliens" conflicted with their religious upbringing. According to Bajoran religion, the wormhole was the "Celestial Temple", home of the Prophets. The opportunistic Vedek Winn Adami arrived on DS9 accusing Keiko of blasphemy, drawing in her political opponent Vedek Bareil Antos, and causing an uproar in the local population. (DS9: "In the Hands of the Prophets")
Jaro Essa, an outwardly gracious Minister of the Bajoran Provisional Government, saw an opportunity to seize power and rule unilaterally, by capitalizing on civil unrest and the wide-spread dissatisfaction with the current government. In 2369, he founded the "Alliance for Global Unity", and covertly orchestrated its activities.
"The Circle" became the tool he used to turn the Federation, and the government that supported it, into enemies of the Bajoran people. It offered an alternative, xenophobic vision of "Bajor, for Bajorans". The Circle compared the Federation presence to Cardassia and the recently ended occupation, and insisted all aliens be expelled from the planet and Deep Space 9. Starting with vandalism in remote, unsecured areas of the station, they left their symbols, testing Federation vulnerability. Growing bolder, they left similar graffiti on the door to Commander Benjamin Sisko's quarters and branded the Ferengi barkeep Quark. Concurrently, agents on the planet's surface inflamed anti-alien sentiments.
Jaro perceived a threat to his rise to power, in the popularity of the war hero Li Nalas, recently freed from a labor camp on Cardassia IV. Jaro dealt with it by transferring Major Kira Nerys to a surface post, and assigning Li to DS9. Without Li's unifying influence, riots erupted across the planet. Disgruntled Bajorans angrily demanded a new government that could stand on its own. Armed with weapons purchased from Kressari traders, the Circle clashed with Bajoran Militia forces with increasing frequency. The Militia was unable to stop the Circle; each potential conflict led to a further withdrawal.
Chaos and Downfall
Jaro remained popular in the eyes of his fellow Bajorans throughout the ordeal, and he began to openly support reform. With Li Nalas gone, Jaro easily suborned Vedek Winn with the promise she would be the next Kai if she claimed the Prophets were on his side. Bajoran Militia General Krim, a man of some integrity, weighed his options, and eventually allied himself with the Circle.
In preparation for the coup, the Bajoran Militia informed Commander Sisko that he had seven hours to evacuate DS9. Bound by the Prime Directive, Sisko complied but dragged his feet, ensuring his presence, along with several other DS9 personnel, aboard the station when the Militia arrived. Krim and his troops boarded the station, and Sisko commenced a short guerrilla campaign.
Dax and Kira arrived on Bajor with recently uncovered evidence regarding the Circle's weapon suppliers, in a shipping manifest. Cardassians, finding advantage in the Circle's disruption of Bajoran politics, had surreptitiously supplied the faction through intermediaries. The manifest, with a Cardassian Gul's thumb signature, convinced the Chamber of Ministers in time to avert the coup.
Known Members of the Circle
DS9's second season began with Star Trek's first three-episode-long story arc, of which the Alliance for Global Unity was the focal point. Building upon events from the first season, such as the sentiments expressed by Tahna Los in "Past Prologue" and the tensions between Winn and the Federation in "In the Hands of the Prophets", this marked the beginning of a trend that would continue throughout the series.
The revelation of Cardassian involvement in the Circle's plan to overthrow the provisional government appears to have silenced the movement's supporters; in later episodes, Bajor and the Federation are far more cooperative than previously. The fate of members of the Circle, particularly Minister Jaro (who claimed to fully support the investigation of the new evidence) is uncertain.