On March 8, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain appointed Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa to serve as deputy prime minister, a move that was widely lauded as injecting new momentum into the national dialogue process between the ruling monarchy and the opposition and sending a positive signal to a long-disheartened opposition. So far the national dialogue has moved forward with high hopes, but much of the discussion has centered on its scope, participation and logistics. The real test of success will be whether the process can resolve the crucial issues of an empowered parliament, electoral gerrymandering and Shiite participation in government.
Optimists in Washington and elsewhere should be under no illusion about the forces still arrayed against compromise in Bahrain. Ironically, a towering figure in the anti-reform camp leads the Bahraini institution that receives the most significant material support from the United States: the commander of the Bahrain Defense Forces (BDF), Field Marshal Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Khalifa. Together with his brother, Royal Court Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, the field marshal has, over the past two years, wrested control of Bahrain’s reform process from the king and crown prince. It remains uncertain whether the crown prince’s recent elevation to a position with ill-defined scope is enough to shift this balance of power. ...
To read the rest, sign up to try World Politics Review
Sign up for two weeks of free access with your credit card. Cancel any time during the free trial and you will be charged nothing.
Request a free trial for your office or school. Everyone at a given site can get access through our institutional subscriptions.
- World Citizen: For Israel, No Good Outcomes in Syria’s War
- Reality Check: The Past’s First Lesson: Beware of False Historical Analogies
- Global Insights: As Iran Deal Nears, U.S. Must Also Reassure Central Asia, Caucasus
- Strategic Horizons: For Hint of Iraq’s Future, Take Another Look at Vietnam War
- France’s Hollande Exploits Political Openings to Deepen Gulf Ties