King of Bahrain holds talks with Putin

06.09.2016

The King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, arrives in Moscow today for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The result of the agreement with the Saudis

The visit is taking place just one day after Russia and Saudi Arabia announced an agreement on the cooperative regulation of oil prices. Within the Saudi monarchy, Russia supported the group around around Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of the current king, against his uncle, official Crown Prince Muhammad Ibn Nayef, the United States’ protege. Bahrain is also now tending to agree with Russia on oil. Another reason is the fact that Bahrain is a major financial center in the Persian Gulf for offshore banking. Perhaps, transactions and operations between Russia and Saudi Arabia will henceforth go through this country.

The strategic importance of Bahrain

Since the beginning of the 1990’s, the main operating base of US Fifth Fleet has been stationed on the kingdom’s territory. The operational area, or area of responsibility of the Fifth Fleet, covers about 2.5 million square miles, including the Red and Arabian seas, the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, as well as the coastal waters of 20 Middle Eastern countries.

Shiite factor

Despite the fact that the majority of the population of Bahrain is Shiite (75% of the population), the government is in the hands of Sunnis. During the "Arab Spring" in 2011, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded the country and suppressed the uprising of local Shiites.

Russia is a strategic ally of Iran, towards which Bahrain’s Shiites are oriented. Thus, Russia could be a mediator for Bahrain in solving problems with Iran.