Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bahrain: Publication of Special Report on Bahrain - Throwing Confetti in the Heart of the Power Struggle in the Persian Gulf

PARIS and BRUSSELS, April 13, 2011

Three weeks after the dispersal of the Place de la Perle roundabout demonstrators, at the heart of the Bahrain protests, and following the imposition of a curfew, tension remains high in some villages in the outskirts of the capital. The Thomas More Institute offers an analysis of the country's current situation, the key to understanding the geopolitical dynamics in the Persian Gulf.

The deployment of troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates during the demonstrations reminds us that relations between the Sunni Monarchs and Iran underpins the region. While Iranian foreign affairs are a cause for concern for the Sunni monarchs, of which the nuclear programme is only the main element, it is necessary to prevent the troubles from increasing and the small allied kingdom from swaying towards Tehran's influence. On the other side of the Persian Gulf, the presence of the general headquarters of the 5th American fleet in Manama and cooperation with NATO since June 2004 give Iran the chance to demonise the United States and to present itself as the nation that defends oppressed populations in the region.

Behind the power struggles, reconfiguring relations between the monarchy and the Shiite populations of Bahrain is proving to be the best way of containing Iran's ambitions and of limiting the violence. It is a considerable challenge, not to mention the fact that the monarchy's attitude towards the demonstrators has left its mark and weakened the main opposition party. However, the Crown Prince's speech on the 13 March and the National Action Charter of 2001 - approved by referendum - are a basis for concrete discussions. In fact, political reforms are all the more necessary so that it is possible to create a climate that is more favourable to the the economic reforms undertaken by the monarchy.

Doing nothing would risk making the protests more radical and increasing Iranian influence. Reliving the spirit of 2001 and the rapid introduction of reforms would therefore appear to be the best step in bringing together security, stability, and progress.

The report is available on

SOURCE Institute Thomas More