Bahrain Briefing


Despite its small size, the island Kingdom of Bahrain is an important hub of geopolitical intrigue. Situated in the Persian Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Iran, it overlooks the region’s main shipping route for oil and natural gas. It serves as the permanent headquarters for the US Fifth Fleet, and is a major ally of both Washington and Riyadh. Its high Shi’a population makes it of interest to Iran, but the Sunni ruling family is backed by Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states. Finally, it has been wracked by anti-government “Arab Spring” unrest since 2011, drawing questions about the future of this Western ally and banking hub of the Islamic world.


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