• 25 mins Thanksgiving Gas Prices At 3-Year High
  • 4 hours Iraq’s Giant Majnoon Oilfield Attracts Attention Of Supermajors
  • 6 hours South Iraq Oil Exports Close To Record High To Offset Kirkuk Drop
  • 10 hours Iraqi Forces Find Mass Graves In Oil Wells Near Kirkuk
  • 10 hours Chevron Joint Venture Signs $1.7B Oil, Gas Deal In Nigeria
  • 11 hours Iraq Steps In To Offset Falling Venezuela Oil Production
  • 13 hours ConocoPhillips Sets Price Ceiling For New Projects
  • 3 days Shell Oil Trading Head Steps Down After 29 Years
  • 3 days Higher Oil Prices Reduce North American Oil Bankruptcies
  • 3 days Statoil To Boost Exploration Drilling Offshore Norway In 2018
  • 3 days $1.6 Billion Canadian-US Hydropower Project Approved
  • 3 days Venezuela Officially In Default
  • 3 days Iran Prepares To Export LNG To Boost Trade Relations
  • 4 days Keystone Pipeline Leaks 5,000 Barrels Into Farmland
  • 4 days Saudi Oil Minister: Markets Will Not Rebalance By March
  • 4 days Obscure Dutch Firm Wins Venezuelan Oil Block As Debt Tensions Mount
  • 4 days Rosneft Announces Completion Of World’s Longest Well
  • 4 days Ecuador Won’t Ask Exemption From OPEC Oil Production Cuts
  • 4 days Norway’s $1 Trillion Wealth Fund Proposes To Ditch Oil Stocks
  • 4 days Ecuador Seeks To Clear Schlumberger Debt By End-November
  • 5 days Santos Admits It Rejected $7.2B Takeover Bid
  • 5 days U.S. Senate Panel Votes To Open Alaskan Refuge To Drilling
  • 5 days Africa’s Richest Woman Fired From Sonangol
  • 5 days Oil And Gas M&A Deal Appetite Highest Since 2013
  • 5 days Russian Hackers Target British Energy Industry
  • 5 days Venezuela Signs $3.15B Debt Restructuring Deal With Russia
  • 5 days DOJ: Protestors Interfering With Pipeline Construction Will Be Prosecuted
  • 5 days Lower Oil Prices Benefit European Refiners
  • 6 days World’s Biggest Private Equity Firm Raises $1 Billion To Invest In Oil
  • 6 days Oil Prices Tank After API Reports Strong Build In Crude Inventories
  • 6 days Iraq Oil Revenue Not Enough For Sustainable Development
  • 6 days Sudan In Talks With Foreign Oil Firms To Boost Crude Production
  • 6 days Shell: Four Oil Platforms Shut In Gulf Of Mexico After Fire
  • 6 days OPEC To Recruit New Members To Fight Market Imbalance
  • 7 days Green Groups Want Norway’s Arctic Oil Drilling Licenses Canceled
  • 7 days Venezuelan Oil Output Drops To Lowest In 28 Years
  • 7 days Shale Production Rises By 80,000 BPD In Latest EIA Forecasts
  • 7 days GE Considers Selling Baker Hughes Assets
  • 7 days Eni To Address Barents Sea Regulatory Breaches By Dec 11
  • 7 days Saudi Aramco To Invest $300 Billion In Upstream Projects

Breaking News:

Thanksgiving Gas Prices At 3-Year High

Alt Text

Kurdistan Proposes Immediate Ceasefire With Iraq

The Kurdistan Regional Government has…

Alt Text

Kurdistan Ready To Hand Over Oil For 17% Of Iraqi Budget

The Kurdistan Regional Government has…

Saudi Arabia and Iran's Interest in Oil Rich Bahrain's Growing Unrest

Saudi Arabia and Iran's Interest in Oil Rich Bahrain's Growing Unrest

At the heart of the Bahrain crisis is a Sunni / Shia Muslim split that is not limited to the small island off Saudi Arabia, but extends throughout the Persian Gulf region, home of most Arab oil wealth.

The Sunni al-Khalifa family has ruled Bahrain since 1782 despite a clear majority of the population being Shia.

There have always been tensions between the two communities, with the Shia accusing the royal family of packing the higher echelons of the security forces, government and business community with Sunnis.

The Iranian government is giving support to the Shia population while Saudi Arabia and Pakistan side with the Sunni al-Khalifas. Add to this that the US Navy's 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, partly to counter Iranian influence in the Strait of Hormuz, and a small island's domestic political situation becomes of major regional geopolitical importance.

Bahrain gained independence from the UK in 1971 and became a parliamentary monarchy, but in 1975 the then King moved against Shia unrest by declaring the island an absolute monarchy.

There were violent demonstration during the 1990s as the Shia demanded more rights, these were brutally suppressed, but in 2001 the pressure was so great the ruling family allowed parliamentary elections.

Despite this, the Shia opposition parties maintain that the system is still rigged against them, noting that they remain a minority in parliament, and that, as the Republican Tea Party movement wants to re-introduce into the US, the upper chamber is appointed directly by the king and thus blocks reform.

Given this key dynamic, the Iranians, Saudis, and Americans are watching the unrest in Bahrain with intense interest.

The Iranians have long laid claim to the island, and would be pleased to see the Shia majority there in charge to compliment the growing Shia power in Iraq and Lebanon.

That, and the fact that the Saudi Arabian oil fields lie in the part of the kingdom which are dominated by Saudi's Shia minority, explains why Riyadh is backing Bahrain's royal family with expertise and it is rumored military hardware.

Much of that hardware will originate in the US, which wants to maintain its naval presence in Bahrain.

The protests are not entirely down to the Sunni / Shia split.

Those demonstrating may be mostly Shia, but they have similar grievances to many other Arabs across the region; unemployment, poverty, lack of free speech and social freedoms.

However, MOST demonstrators are Shia and overwhelmingly those cracking down on them are Sunni. The protesters face a problem not seen in the other Arab countries.

Bahrain's capital, Manama, does not really have a city centre, nor a symbolic focal point for rallying. The demonstrators had been mostly gathering in small Shia villages near the capital.

They then hit on the idea of going to the Pearl Roundabout in the shopping area on the outskirts of the capital.

This resulted in the vicious crackdown in the middle of the night, according to this piece from, of all, places, Sky News.

The subsequent loss of life risks turning what began as protest for greater democracy, into outright calls for the royal family to be overthrown.

David Caploe PhD
Chief Political Economist
Economy Watch




Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News