When we study the political phenomena, we should take into account the point that some phenomena, political actors, and actions can be investigated phenomenologically and without any presuppositions. But we should also know that some phenomena have no originality or independence of discourse, and we should understand them as part of a bigger system—a macrosystem— and inspect them as subsystems.
Accordingly, the Bahraini government is one of the actors that acts as a subsystem. Bahraini regime in its actions in the foreign—and even domestic—policy has no originality and independence of discourse. Although some analysts argue that the behaviors of Bahrain’s government are taking place under the British government’s control as a macrosystem, the most accurate analysis about the Bahraini behavioral patterns both at home and in the region is to put it under Saudi Arabia’s behavioral system.
To have an understanding of this structure, we should more than any other thing focus on how much Bahrain is significant for Saudi Arabia. Bahrain is a very small island state on the coast of the Persian Gulf with a bit more than 700 square kilometers of area. The petite island nation is of geopolitical importance, however. This feature of Bahrain defines the reason why this country has always been calling attention of the regional and international powers.
After separation of Bahrain from Iran, Saudi Arabia was the first country to hold diplomatic relations with this sheikhdom because the island was strategically important for the Saudis. So, since the beginning, Riyadh tried to increase Bahrain’s dependence to the kingdom. To this end, the Saudi leaders arranged marriage of the current Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to the daughter of the former Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz in a bid to create family and blood bonds between the two ruling families.
In fact, Riyadh has always considered Bahrain as being part of its national security circle, and argued any changes in the small island kingdom will affect the national security and royal structure of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, this pushes Riyadh to support Al Khalifa family with a full power and despite the huge costs. The Saudi leaders since several years ago raised the idea of establishing an alliance among the Persian Gulf Arab states to pave the way for absorbing Bahrain into the Saudi kingdom for the final aim of making sure that Al Khalifa rule will continue.
But what more than anything else makes Bahrain significant in the eyes of the Saudis is that Saudi Arabia in its eastern borders just close to Bahrain has a Shiite community, and by the way, huge oil reserves of the kingdom are majorly existing in the east of the country. For Riyadh’s leaders Bahrain is the whole of Saudi Arabian eastern regions. This means that any event that takes place in Bahrain directly influences Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province because due to the wide range of the tribes in the Arabian Peninsula, most of the Bahraini families are living in Eastern Province. On the other side, the Saudi Arabian energy sources and industries get affected by any events in Bahrain. This is the main reason behind Saudi paying special attention to any developments in Bahrain. In recent Years, Saudi Arabia widely intervened in Bahrain as it, for example, deployed military forces to crackdown the anti-Al Khakifa uprising in Bahrain.
In return, with a passive behavior and instead of protecting its independence and national identity and addressing the legitimate demands of people who tried to send their message peacefully, the Bahraini government allowed the Saudi Arabian military forces in the country and used an iron fist against the protestors. This issue more than ever angered the Bahraini people at Al Khalifa and its measures, urging them protesting more than before over regime’s servility and violation of their national identity. So, the people’s demands for freedom and independence are logical and rightful calls to the Bahrain’s government. But Manama leaders so far failed to address these demands.
In general, it can be noted that Bahrain’s inclusion in the Saudi Arabian macrosystem has been effective in determining the way of Bahraini government’s dealing with the revolutionaries. Putting strains on the Al Khalifa regime, Saudi regime has diverted the Bahraini government from listening to the demands of the protesting masses. So, we can conclude that the Bahraini people’s demands are victims of Al Saud’s ambitions and geopolitical concerns.