Bahrain / by Alistair Galloway

Bahrain worked with other Gulf Arab leaders to discuss regional security as well as to formulate a unified stance on Iran. Despite the continuation of tense relations between Bahrain and Iran due to continued suspicion of Iranian intervention in Bahrain’s domestic affairs, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifah made a statement encouraging the continuation of talks between Iran and Persian Gulf Arab countries, mediated by Kuwait. Clashes between Bahrain’s Shiite population and the Sunni ruled government persist causing an uptick in government intervention. The crackdown has worried human rights groups. Bahrain is scheduled to have its UN Human Rights review session in Geneva on May 1st. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Bahrain to make significant spending cuts after the economy has been hard hit by falling oil prices. Construction of the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving and regasification terminal in the Middle East is underway in the Hidd Industrial area of Bahrain. After meeting with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa, head of the Russian republic of Chechnya, Ranzan Kadyrov, announced that the prominent Russian gas company Gazprom had reached an agreement with Bahrain’s authorities regarding its participation in oil and gas prospecting works. Bahrain continued to pursue close economic, political, and cultural ties with countries such as the Philippines, Sudan, and Pakistan. The US has agreed to supply the Royal Bahrain Naval Force with another five Mk V patrol boats later this year. Although Bahrain’s economy has been hard hit by falling oil prices, its business investment as well as restaurant and hotel sector have continued to grow.