March 19, 2023

Recent Saudi-Iranian rapprochement may influence Bahrain to follow Saudi lead Copy

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by Hadeel Oueis, Senior Research Fellow

Bahrain was one of the first Arab nations to sign the Abraham Accords peace agreement with Israel in September 2020

Bahrain’s Shia sect comprises around 70% of the country’s Muslim population, making them a significant demographic group. They have long-standing religious ties with Iran, which leaves the ruling family of Bahrain, who belongs to the Sunni minority, in a vulnerable position.

Iran has used sectarianism to foment unrest and threaten the ruling family, resulting in years of anti-government protests in Bahrain between 2011 and 2014. These protests could not halted without the intervention of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates through the Peninsula Shield Force, the military arm of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Despite the animosity between Bahrain’s royal family and the Iranian regime, it appears that the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement brokered by China will influence Bahrain to follow the Saudi lead.