Battle for Bahrain: What one uprising meant for the Gulf states and Iran

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Abstract

The surviving Middle East monarchies have come under heavy criticism in the West after the popular uprisings that struck in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria. Many of the GCC monarchs took swift preemptive action to shore up their legitimacy with handouts while at the same time forcefully repressing dissent. The Saudis and their neighboring Sunni Arab rulers along the Gulf littoral are now responding to what they see as the challenge of Iran as much as to last year's events in Tahrir Square. A renewed security competition between the Sunni Arab rulers and Iran seems to be coalescing in the Gulf in the absence of a strong Iraq, which historically provided the balance to Iran's power. The al-Khalifa response to the protesters flip-flopped between appeasement and force, which some say indicated the division in the ruling family between the reform-minded King Hamad, who assumed power in 1999, and his uncle, Prince Khalifa, the country's conservative prime minister since 1971.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-84
Number of pages11
JournalWorld Affairs
Volume174
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2012

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