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Internal security will drive Bahrain’s foreign policy

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Significance

Ten years after it experienced mass protests during the 2011 Arab uprisings, Manama remains deeply concerned about the potential threat from a Shia-led opposition -- and its attraction of foreign support. It is particularly troubled by links to Tehran, which it sees as the foremost threat to its own internal stability.

Impacts

  • If top Shia religious leader Sheikh Isa Qassim, in poor health, were to die, that could lead to a flare-up of anti-government sentiment.
  • Bahrain will work with Saudi Arabia to curb Iran’s influence in Iraq, where clerics have close ideological links with Bahrain’s Shia.
  • The Saudi crown prince might push for further Bahraini outreach to Israel, as a precedent he could follow when conditions allow.
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