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Bahrain in the shadow of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States

Posted by alanmirs on April 25, 2011


By Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Special to CNN
April 25, 2011 — Updated 1032 GMT (1832 HKT)



    • Bahrain’s fate is bound to regional politics, says Arshin Adib-Moghaddam
    • Saudi Arabia’s suspicion of Iran is a key factor, he says
    • Iran has a vested interest in what happens in Bahrain
    • “Is it not impossible to keep Iran out of what is happening in the area?” asks Adib-Moghaddam


Editor’s note: Arshin Adib-Moghaddam is University Lecturer in Comparative and International Politics at SOAS, University of London. He is the author of “Iran in World Politics: the Question of the Islamic Republic,” and his most recent book, “A metahistory of the clash of civilizations: Us and them beyond Orientalism” has just been published by Columbia University Press and Hurst.

(CNN) — There are disturbing accounts from major human rights organizations about abuses in Bahrain and the systematic state violence that has been unleashed on the opposition movement against the monarchy of the Al-Khalifa family.

And yet Bahrain has not become the story because the movement for social justice, government accountability and independence is being violently suppressed, but because of wider strategic calculations that bind the fate of the island to the future of regional politics.

There are at least three strategic issues at stake when it comes to the political present and future of the country. First, Bahrain hosts a major naval base for the U.S. fifth fleet, and the ruling Al-Khalifa family has been a trusted ally of the United States for several decades……………….

If Iran is indeed a regional superpower, is it not impossible to marginalize it? If Iran has so much ideational power in the wider Arab and Islamic world, would it not be in the interest of all stakeholders to forge a security architecture for the region that would include such a central country?

Is it not irrational and ultimately impossible to keep Iran out of what is happening in the area? Is it not time for a sustained period of diplomatic detente? Shouldn’t we finally strive for peace in Western Asia? Isn’t peace and real security what the increasingly vocal civil societies are calling for?

To my mind, addressing these questions with a strategic understanding of the geopolitical realities of the greater West Asian area is likely to yield better policy, both with regard to Bahrain and beyond. To that end, we need many more unclenched fists.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Arshin Adib-Moghaddam.


How Dictators Emerge? Bahrain, Conspiracy, Liberation, Persians, British, Iran

It was one of the first states in the Gulf to discover oil and to build a refinery; as such, it benefited from oil wealth before most of its neighbors

The country has been headed since 1783 by the Khalifah family, members of the Bani Utbah tribe, who expelled the Persians. From 1861, when a treaty was signed withBritain, until independence in 1971,Bahrainwas virtually a British protectorate.

Bahrain and Persians

In 1888, Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, the British Plenipotentiary Minister toTehran, presented a War Office map to the Iranian King Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, in which the islands were presented as Iranian territory.

In his 1892 book Persia and the Persian Question, George Nathaniel Curzon, the Viceroy and Governor-General of India recognized the islands as belonging to Iran, but a decade later in 1902 the British occupied the islands as a buffer against the growing Soviet influence in Southern Iran.

Being afraid of the growing Soviet influence in the Southern regions ofIran, the British forces occupied three Iranian islands, named Abu Mousa, Lesser Tunb and Greater Tunb in the year 1902.

IranandBritainfought over the islands for decades until 1968, when the Britons pulled their troops out from the Indian Ocean andPersian Gulfas a reconciliatory stance.

Then, in 1971, as the colonial protectorate of Ras al-Khaimeh andSharjah,Iransigned an agreement with Sharjah with the arbitration of British government to take responsibility for the islands’ security while recognizing the sovereignty ofBahrainand the UAE.

What does Israel-backed UAE say?


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