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February 11, 2015

How to Bring Stability to Bahrain

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Washington needs a new strategy to help bring stability and reform to Bahrain. Although the smallest country in the Middle East, Bahrain exemplifies several of the major challenges for U.S. policy in the region: 

  • Sectarian tensions exploited by ISIS and other Sunni extremists and by Shi’adominated Iran to fuel conflict
  • Economic troubles linked to public corruption and an over-reliance on oil revenues, exacerbated by sharply falling oil prices 
  • Stalled political reform leaving the root grievances of large scale public protests unresolved
  • De facto U.S. support for an authoritarian status quo through a government that fails to deliver good governance and continues to deny basic rights and freedoms to its people, while courting support from Russia and other U.S. rivals 
  • Falling public support for the United States  
  • Major military assets, in Bahrain’s case the basing of the U.S. Fifth Naval Fleet, threatened by protracted instability