By Finian Cunningham
The persistence of pro-democracy protests in Bahrain in the face of brutal repression may be giving Washington second thoughts about its unwavering support for the royal rulers of the strategically important Persian Gulf kingdom. Are we about to witness a cosmetic ‘regime change’ – not so much for the genuine sake of democratic rights in Bahrain, but more to save Washington’s vital interests across the region?
The tiny island situated between Saudi Arabia and Qatar serves as the base for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The Fifth Fleet, comprising 16,000 personnel and 30 vessels, is a staging ground for US military projection across the Middle East and Central Asia. It also monitors the sealanes of the Persian Gulf through which some 30 per cent of the world’s total supply of traded oil passes every day.