This post is about how much of Bahrain’s wealth has been taken by  the Ruler and the Al Khalifa family over the past 80 years. In particular, it focuses on the years between 1925-70.  It also addresses some other interesting questions, such as the mystery of Abu Safah, and why the revenue allocated to the Ruling Family disappeared off the accounting books on two separate occasions. So before you wave a banner proclaiming support for the country’s wise and educated leadership, bear in mind that between the years of 1926 and 1970, Bahrain’s ruling family received about a quarter* of the nation’s wealth. In fact, the amount given to the ruling family per year was always the largest item of recurrent expenditure. Until 1941, the amount given to the Ruler and those on the Civil List was consistently greater than the the sum of all other expenditures. In other words, one family got more per year than the health sector, education sector, public protection dept etc combined. Although the amount they receive now is almost certainly less, it is no longer recorded on the budget sheets, so it is not subject to scrutiny. Such a lack of transparency is, as we shall see, nothing new.  Read on for an anger-inducing, yet interesting tale of greed and avarice.

How is money given to the ruling family? 

Traditionally, the Ruler and the ruling family of Bahrain were given money through payment to the civil list.  This practice continued until then end of 1949, after which the ruler distributed money from his own allocation called the privy purse. Upon receiving its first oil royalties in 1935, the Bahrain government set up a system of administration as follows;

The oil royalty would be divided into third, one third going to the Privy Purse of the Ruler, on third to non-recurrent capital expenditure and the remaining third to be invested. (Annual Report, 1955, pg 4)

The amount of money received directly by the Ruler was dependent on how good the deal was between the Bahrain government and the Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO). The better the revenue sharing between the company and the government, the better it was for the both the people and the ruling family. It is also worth noting that Charles Belgrave (Political Adviser to the Sheikh)  imposed a limit of 500,000 rupees on the Civil List back in 1930, though this became meaningless when the ruling family started receiving oil royalties.

In 1952 a new 50-50 oil deal was struck, and the government was to receive ’50 percent of the profits of Bahraini oil and duty on oil imported from Saudi Arabia through the pipeline.’ (Annual Report, 1956, pg 106). This increase stemmed from the fact neighboring countries such as Qatar were getting similar 50-50 deals.  However, due to the fact that Bahrain’s oil reserves were relatively limited, a new deal was struck in 1955. This guaranteed that the state (and the Ruler) would continue to get significant revenue from oil even when Bahrain’s own reserves were depleted .  In this new agreement, the government would receive 50 percent of the profits of any oil refined in Bahrain. In all cases, the ruler would personally receive 1/3rd of all the oil revenue accrued to the government. It is hard to determine to what extent the Ruler’s desire for more income motivated his decision to push for a better deal, though Shiekh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa (Bahrain’s ruler from 1942 – 1961) was keen to double production in 1952.

On December 26 the Ruler had a further long conversation with company officials, in which he began by saying that if they did not drill a test well in additional area (i.e. in the sea bed) within one, or at the most two, months he would take this area away from them including the area in dispute with Saudi Arabia. He also said they must double production in the main island. (Telegram no. 1062 to foreign Office, 1953)

The fact the Ruling Family were receiving a third of oil royalties meant they had a vested interest in extracting as much oil as possible, even though this was bad for the wells.

After decades of receiving exorbitant yet varying amounts of income, the 1973 constitution contained an article that sought to define the amount received by the Ruler. It states

 The Amir shall have an annual privy purse to be determined by a special Amiri decree. The privy purse may not be revised throughout the reign of the Amir, and shall thereafter be fixed by the law.

If one looks at the state budgets from 1974 onwards, it appears that this sum was fixed at 6 million Bahraini Dinars (BD) per annum. Given the massive increase in oil prices following 1973, the figured given to the privy purse represented 5.8 % of Bahrain’s total oil revenue in 1974 (al-Kuwari, 1978). The budgets from 1975 onwards  seem to show that the Ruler continued to receive the aforementioned amount of BD 6 million  per annum (the constitution does not actually state that the Ruler should stop receiving oil royalties, though one assumes this is the spirit of the article). Ironically, it appears that the figure of BD 6 million  per annum actually increased after the reforms of 2001.  As I said in my previous post

Ebrahim Sharif also noted that the amount allocated for the Civil List in 2001 was 8.5 million dinars, which represented an increase of 2.5 million from 6 million . This increased in 2002 to 9 million. On 2003, the amount allocated to those on the Civil List was no longer included on the annual financial report, which meant that Bahrain’s elected MP’s, whose responsibility it is to scrutinize the budget, can no longer scrutinize the amount of money given to royals.

Where did the money go? 

Despite the scandalous amounts of money going to the Ruling Family, there were even more nefarious developments towards the end of the 1950s. After going through the annual reports I noticed a change in how allocations for the privy purse were recorded.  I also discovered that  Ali Al Khalifa Al Kuwari (now a professor economics at the University of Qatar) discovered something similar in a study he carried out 1978. We have slightly different dates though. Al Kuwari (1978) writes

the government budgets after 1959 no longer show all revenue received by the state or its allocations. The budget, in fact, shows only two-thirds of the state’s oil revenue, while the remaining third is reserved for the ruler and allocated to him directly before budgeting

Although al-Kuwari says this practice occurred after 1959, there is a budget for 1962 that does mention the allocation to the privy purse. However, instead of listing one third of oil revenue to privy purse under ‘expenditure’, it simply states Oil Receipts: Less on third to the Privy Purse under ‘revenue’. The inconsistencies in recording the accounts between 1959 and 1962 can be seen in the following accounts.

In 1954, the amount of revenue given to the privy purse is clearly recorded
In 1956, ‘privy purse’ is not mentioned. Instead, it is just referred to as ‘One-third Oil Receipts’
In 1959, money given to privy purse listed under revenue, and not expenditure
From 1963 to 1970, budget or balance sheets do not mention the privy purse. Instead they just list ‘Oil Receipts’ under revenue. The figure listed is actual two thirds of the amount of total oil receipts. The other third goes directly to the ruler and is not mentioned in the accounts.

Put simply, betwen 1962 and 1970, the government accounts do not list the amount of oil royalties going to the Ruler. The figure given for ‘Oil Receipts’ under ‘Revenue’ is actually two thirds of the total amount payable by oil companies to the State. There is little question about whether royalty payments stopped in 1962. According to a telegram sent from Shaikh Salman to the Chief Local Rep of BAPCO the royalty agreement was set to last until at least 1969, when it would presumably be subject to renewal.

By omitting the amounts paid to the privy purse, reading the financial reports is very misleading. For example, in his review of 1968 Head of Finance Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa writes;

Educational and health services accounted for the largest single items of recurrent expenditure during the financial year and together they amounted to almost half the total expenditure incurred.

In actual fact, the largest single item of recurrent expenditure that year was the amount given to the Ruling family. To put it in perspective, the payment to the privy purse in 1968 was BD 4,035,287. The amount allocated to education was BD 2,934,521. The ruling family therefore received almost twice the second highest item of recurrent expenditure. Check out the financial statement below.

Despite Charles Belgrave’s fairly frequent attempts to limit the amount of money given to the ruling family, he seemed to capitulate in 1933

…I should be failing in my duty if I did not take this opportunity of stating that it is my considered opinion that the finances of Bahrain will never be on a satisfactory footing unless the Civil List is made to correspond, to a certain extent, to the actual revenue, increasing and decreasing according to the income of the State…the fluctuations of revenue have not proportionally affected the Civil List//I also wish to point out that it is impossible for me myself to persuade the Ruler and his relations to accept a further reduction. In a letter I wrote to the Political agent some years ago, I explained that owing to my position and work here it was extremely difficult for me to coerce H.E. Shaikh Hamad into agreeing to a course which he strongly disliked. To endeavour to do so would jeopardise my relations with him. (Annual report 1351, pg 7)

20 years later, the acting Political Agent of Bahrain J.E.R. Little echoed, somewhat dryly, Belgrave’s sentiments.

In 1955 it is expected that payments to the Privy Purse will amount to Rs. 13,400,00 or roughly 1 million sterling. Inevitably the payment of such sums to the Ruling Family will continue to be the subject of criticism locally, and it is no doubt due to his awareness of this fact that the ruler has donated a quarter of a million rupees to education, health and public protection. Other members of Al Khalifa apparently are impervious to the promptings of conscience.

Given the disturbances of 1956, it was perhaps prudent of the Ruler to donate some of his ‘personal’ wealth to public protection. It is also ironic that the Ruler is ‘donating’ the nation’s wealth back to the country.

The Abu Safah Question 

Under a treaty agreed with Saudi Arabia in 1958, Bahrain currently takes half the net revenue from the sale of oil from the Abu Safah Field. Most sources seem to state that this agreement was concluded in 1972, though apparently production started in 1966. Furthermore, an agreement between the governments of Saudi and Bahrain regarding ‘matters of policy  connected with the field was was made in 1965’ (Shaikh Khalifah bin Sulman, Annual Report 1965, pg 3). According to Al Kuwari (1978), oil revenues from Abu Safa were allocated to the Ruler of Bahrain’s Privy Purse between 1966 and 1972.  He makes this assumption based on on the following reasons

1) Since the government of Bahrain’s budgets, especially thsoe of 1966-1970, met their deficits by drawing from the reserve fund, it is difficult to beleive that all the revenue coming from the Abu Safah field was allocated to the reserve.

2) During the period 1960-1970, although the government of Bahrain’s annual reports (statement of revenue and expenditure) gave all the information affecting the reserve fund account (for example the setting up of a special account in 1960, the loss resulting from the sterling devaluation in 1967, and all withdrawals fromt his acocunt to meet the budget deficits), nothign at all is mentioned about the BAhrains tate’s half share of the Abu Safah Oil revenue.

3) All attempt sot get an explanation of this matter from officials in Bahrain have failed, in spite of their valuable help in providing other information. Since 1966, the government of Bahrain Annual Reports and all the official publications, as far as i known, seem to ignore the Abu Safah field before 1974.

4) All oil revenues received by the state and not appearing in the budget were allocated to the privy purse of the ruler. Therefore, on the basis of this assumption, the state oil revenue and the actual budgets, allows a reassessment of Bahrain’s public revenue and expenditure in a form which will enable an examination of the allocation of the Bahrain state oil revenue.

If al-Kuwari is correct, then this represents a significant scandal in Bahrain’s history. It would certainly not be an implausible occurrence. Given that no officials were able to give satisfactory explanations, it seems unlikely that the 1972 agreement was a retroactive one, and that moneys received in 1974  (the year revenues from Abu Safah first appeared in the state budget) included profits that had accrued between and 1966 and 1972. If anyone knows more, please enlighten me. (Although I don’t have access to the 1974 budget, the 1975 one can be viewed here). If funds from Abu Safah were going to the privy purse, the money involved would probably be huge. In 1975, Abu Safah was generating BD 50 million for the Bahrain government, only about BD 10 million less than was being generated by BAPCO.

So how much do the ruling family get?

Between the years of 1926 and 1970, the Ruling Family of Bahrain have accrued a huge amount of wealth.  The following tables illustrates some interesting statistics, not least that the ruling family were allocated about a quarter of all revenue between the years of 1925 and 1970. Between the years of 1925 and 1937, the Ruling Family received about half of Bahrain’s total revenue. If that’s not daylight robbery, than I’m not sure what is. There are also some graphs for added pizzazz. ( Figures from 1965 – 1970 are written in Bahraini Dinars, whereas those between 1925 – 1964 are written in Rupees)

Total amount of wealth accrued to the Ruling Family between 1925 – 1970
More detailed breakdown of the percent of annual revenue that was allocated to the Al Khalifa family
Although the percentage of annual revenue allocated to the privy purse varies, there is a general increase in the total amount of money received every year by the Ruler. This graph illustrates that trend.
Graph showing amount of annual revenue allocated to the Ruling Family between 1925 and 1940
Graph showing amount of annual revenue allocated to the Ruling Family between 1941 and 1950
Graph showing amount of annual revenue allocated to the Ruling Family between 1950 and 1964
Graph showing amount of annual revenue allocated to the Ruling Family between 1964 and 1970

Concluding remarks 

Although some questions still remained unanswered (such as why were privy purse payments removed from the budget, and what happened at Abu Safah?) what is clear is this – one family has accrued about a quarter of Bahrain’s revenue between 1925 and 1970. This percentage decreased significantly between 1974 and 2001, after the privy purse allocation was reduced to BD 6 million  per annum.  It is also important to bear in mind that those in the ruling family still receive money from the privy purse in addition to monies received from their normal jobs. This was something Belgrave noted in 1928

this amount (Civil List) does not include salaries which are paid to various Shaikhs, in addition to their allowances, who occupy positions in the govt such as Magistrates, Presidents of Courts, Amirs Etc. These payments are included under other headings, Protection, Judicial etc. (pg 76)

In addition to this, the wealth that has accrued to the Al Khalifa family over the years has allowed them to secure lucrative land deals, property investments  and monopolies. The legacy of their privilege moves beyond an annual stipend, and one can only imagine the extent of the personal fortunes enjoyed by many members of the family. Thus 25% is probably a conservative estimate.

It is also interesting to note how history repeats itself. See the following chronology

Anyway, my closing thought is simple. Ebrahim Sharif – a man who has continually highlighted this greed and corruption – currently languishes in jail on bogus charges.  On the other hand, some people glorify a ruling elite who have been bleeding the country dry for centuries.

*Update: When I posted this yesterday I stated that the Al Khalifas had taken a third, and not a quarter of the nation’s wealth. My error was perhaps understandable, as I was calculating percentages from 1959 -1960 using the revenue figure that did not include the extra third missing off the oil receipts. I was therefore using a much lower figure for the revenue than I should have been using.


1) Prior to 1955, the government accounts were produced according to the Hijry calendar.

2) I am not an economist, financier or accountant, but I think the methodology here is fairly sound. I used the same one adopted by Charles Belgrave when he was tallying up what percent of total annual revenue went to the Al Khalifas. After cross checking my results with his, we arrived at the same figures in all cases except for 1345. The reason being Belgrave used different figures for the total amount of annual revenue. There were two sets of figures for 1345, and I chose to use the most recent ones. It is also important to note that I used the summary of revenue and expenditure, as opposed to the budget. This gives a more accurate of picture of what was spent and received. The only exception is 1962, where there was no statement of revenue and expenditure, only a budget.


17 thoughts on “A Right Royal Robbery: How the Al Khalifas Took a Quarter* of Bahrain’s Wealth

  1. Really makes you wonder what exactly the “loyal elite” are loyal to … the people who are stealing their national funds, their pensions, and their childrens future. The argument is often proposed that Bahrainis should be grateful that they dont pay tax. Thanks for showing the real reason why – once you pay tax, you’re obviously going to want to see a different form of wealth distribution!

  2. I personally disagree with anyone accruing vast personal fortunes, and in many ways how the ruling family did was no less ‘legitimate’ than how many people do it today. What stuns me most is simply how easy it was for them to get money for doing nothing. Welfare for the rich.

    1. With respect Marc, I disagree. It is worse than lots of other rich people because they’re not simply getting money for doing nothing. They are TAKING money which is from our national resources and should be used for the country – on education, healh-care, developing sustainable solutions to enable our survival in the next few generations. I have no objection to people being rich, but I do have an objection to the theft or national resources, and thats what this is. Because they take it, we the people have less. Because we have less, our schools. roads, hospitals, etc suffer. We grow poorer each generation because the lack of education and transfer of knowledge keeps us unable to develop our talents, which keeps us disempowered and ensures that we remain dependent on our rich neighbours for our survival.

      I may be on a rant, but I do believe that this issue is at the heart of how Bahrainis are kept disempowered. Imagine our workforce if each year for the last 30 years Bahrainis had an extra BD 6 million for national investment in education!

  3. Nice job indeed. This piece needs wider distribution than just simply those with an interest in the Gulf. But the al Khalifas are missing a golden opportunity by not encouraging democracy in their country. You see, we in the US have the same degree of corruption, though usually not perpetrated by our elected rulers (at the national level) while in office, (though local leaders often get away with considerable graft.) It operates differently in each country. But my point is, since we have a “democracy”, Americans assume that somehow it is the system that is the problem. So, we punish the system, de-funding it so it gets worse and worse, rather than going after the scoundrels themselves. Bahrainis are not so easily fooled. They know a crook when they see one and many have been willing to risk a lot, even life itself, to get rid of them.

    1. Thanks for reading! Yeah I guess elites always find a way to protect their own interests, regardless of the system. In the US the revolving door politics is a pretty good way of currying leverage and securing large personal fortunes. What is so galling about Bahrain is the brazen ease with which it happened!

  4. Hi JB, thanks for your reply. I do think it’s worse because they do nothing whatsoever. I also think receiving a lot of wealth beyond a certain point is illegitimate, regardless of how hard you work. By having money or keeping wealth you are naturally depriving others of that wealth, or suggesting that you have the right to consume more resources than other, equally hard-working yet poor people. I don’t see it as ethical. What the Al Khalifas and many other ruling elites do is abhorrent. That one family can take so much of a nation’s wealth is disgusting. Also, I thought the argument that they were taking money that could to healthcare, education etc here was obvious!

  5. IInteresting, but hardly new information most Bahrainis know about all of this. The basic problem is: The Al Khalifas will stay as long as the people see the opposition as worse than the people currently in power. Why change one poor leadership for another poor leadership? Revolution in the Middle East does not work, the only thing that changes are the names of the people in power; the actions stay the same. To institute real change the basic CULTURE has to change and that will not happen soon and especially not with what is happening now.

    1. Hi Dawn – I’m not sure that “the people” do see the opposition as worse than the Al Khalifas; after all, 67% of them voted Al Wefaq in the 2010 election. And as the opposition have never had a chance to govern, nobody can be sure how they would fare.

      The factor that is keeping the Al Khalifas in power is not the majority of the Bahraini people: rather, it is the force of the mercenary army. These troops are entirely beholden to the Al Khalifas for taking them out of their Third World backwaters such as Yemen and Baluchistan; they had (like most people from such benighted regions) largely uneducated and violent formative years; they are universally Sunni, and full of the regime’s anti-Shia rhetoric; and they have very little to lose. Any of them who do develop a conscience are swiftly dispatched back home, with replacements lining up from the starving masses.

      This is the perfect military for the maintenance of a dictatorship. Gaddafi had a similar system, which served him well for 42 years. Mubarak, by contrast, fell more quickly, becau his army was constituted by Egyptians, who refused to attack their countrymen on the streets.

      The difference between Libya and Bahrain is that the Bahraini majority are unarmed and thus unable to fight the foreign army. This is due to geographical isolation, Saudi support for the regime, and an efficient security and intelligence service that prevents clandestine weapons imports (arguably the only part of the Bahrain government that works properly!)

  6. Hi Marc, interesting blog – you’re an assiduous researcher. I think you should make the point more forcefully that the quarter of Bahrain’s wealth is merely what the Al Khalifas have stolen directly, ie straight from the oil revenues.

    They have also perfected the art of indirect theft, through such scams as land appropriation; kickbacks; rigged government tenders (see the recent King Hamad hospital, whose original tender was BD15m, and was eventually completed for ten times that); ensuring members of la familia get the top jobs in all institutions; expenses; and of course the mercenary army to protect the entire corrupt system. Given all of this together with the direct theft, I would be very surprised if the proportion of Bahrain’s total wealth appropriated by the Al Khalifas over the last 100 years is less than 50%.

    Must take issue with your loony left talk though. As JB said, the problem here is that the Al Khalifas are taking the wealth at the barrel of a (mercenary’s) gun. That cannot be compared to a businessman acquiring great wealth through people freely choosing to purchase his products or services. What do you suggest is done to someone like Steve Jobs? Should the government forcibly prevent him selling his wildly popular products? Or take away his freely- and honestly-earned wealth at the barrel of a gun? Such ideas are chillingly totalitarian (not to mention rather similar to the behaviour of the Al Khalifa regime…..)

    1. Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your feedback and comments. Over the course of my blogs and tweets I have made the point that the police force in Bahrain are merely there to serve the interests of the Al Khalifas and protect their ability to extract resources from the country. I refer particularly to the paper I posted on systemic police deviance (available on this blog). I also wrote a piece for EA on police throwing metal rods and that mentioned how the mercenary forces are essentially a private militia protecting the interests of a wealthy elite.

      As for JB’s comment, I agreed. I did not disagree that the Khalifas were taking money at the end of a gun. In terms of legitimacy, what the Al Khalifas did was perfectly legal, as is the case when many businessman take huge sums of money. Obviously there are varying levels of ethics when it comes to how people do this, but sometimes things become nebulous. To what extent are BAPCO responsible for bestowing upon the Al Khalifas wealth. Is it simply ok to say ‘if they hadn’t done it, someone else would have’. To what extent should BAPCO held be responsible for not agreeing to a bigger concession with the Bahrain government – money that could have also gone to the people of Bahrain.

      As for Steve Jobs, is it ok that he ran a company that exported much of its labour to places like China, where employees in Foxconn factories making parts for Apple products frequently attempted suicide due to poor working conditions? I personally don’t see that as a noble act, and certainly not something worth bawling about in the press. Sure Steve Jobs wasn’t getting money for merely being an illegitimate occupier of a country he had no right to invade, yet his accumulation of wealth should not be seen as a triumph. It is only allowed through a number of factors, not least people’s insatiable desire for products they don’t need and whose generations puts unnecessary strain on world resources, but also by the fact China have such draconian labor practices that the process of exploitation is easier. I wonder how wealthy Steve Jobs would be if it were not for the ability to produce goods in countries that treat a lot of their workers like shit.

      Again, I am not arguing for ethical parity between all wealthy people and the Khalifas, just emphasizing that my argument was not ‘loony’ left

  7. Hi Marc,
    You’ve done a great job on the issue of Bahrain’s mercenary police force. I just thought you might want to examine the ways in which the Al Khalifas have indirectly, as well as directly, stolen wealth? Obviously it’s pretty difficult to quantify (kickbacks aren’t on the books!) but there are aspects which can be highlighted, such as the number of Al Khalifas in top jobs (a week’s reading of the GDN should give some idea!) Also, I’ve seen a rather well made piece taken from Google Earth, which shows in detail exactly how much of Bahrain, and particularly its coastline, is privately owned by the Al Khalifas. I seem to recall it caused the Bahrain government to attempt to block Google Earth a few years back!

    About the lefty stuff, well, saying things like “receiving a lot of wealth beyond a certain point is illegitimate” is pretty far out. It’s just too sweeping. Who decides it’s illegitimate? Who decides where the “certain point” is? The head of the Politburo? Kim Jong-Un? What about someone who has created a totally “ethical” product, which nobody could possibly argue has exploited anyone, and which sold incredibly well? Would he be allowed to keep his dosh? Again, who draws the line?

    Ultimately, provided that the wealth is earned by providing products and services to people who freely choose to spend their money on these products and services, it seems fair enough. Why should an entrepreneur be penalised for creating a popular product?

    On Foxconn issue, again, unlike in Bahrain or North Korea, there was no coercion involved. If a worker found the conditions unsatisfactory, he or she was free to leave. Of course, in Third World countries, people often live “shit” (your word) lives due to lack of overall economic development (hence they are desperate enough to come as work as mercenaries in Bahrain) and may have few options. That is unfortunate, but it isn’t Steve Jobs’s fault. In fact, by setting up Apple production lines in developing countries, he contributed to the gradual economic development of these countries; certainly more so than if Apple just ignored these nations and pretended that they didn’t exist.

    As for the point about people wanting products they don’t need, well, we don’t *really* need anything, other than bread, water and a tent. Yet surely the point of existence is to make our lives better (unless you believe in some silly religious afterlife)? That involves doing and having things we don’t need, but we do desire. Otherwise, what’s the point of living in the first place?

  8. Marc, an excellent article as a follow on to your previous one. In my somewhat jaded and cynical view of the world I think we can safely asssume that corruption is alive and well in all parts of the world, the main difference is that here its far from subtle….. they sometimes even give you an invoice! As for whether its right for someone to accrue great wealth through their own endeavours by selling something that people want….this is for another day however what any right thinking individual must realise is the fact that its unacceptable for these dictators through an accident of birth to be allowed to steal a nations wealth. The whole of the GCC seems to revolve around the notion that the ruling family “own” the nation and all thats in it/on it/under it including the people themselves. The people are merely “allowed” to reside providing they don’t make a fuss…we are back in the middle ages I’m afraid.

  9. The Royal Family of Bahrain is no different from any other Royal family in the Middle East or indeed elsewhere. The Royals and aristocracy in the UK have what they have due to long standing inherited wealth much of which was gained by means which today would see you go straight to jail without passing go. The Royals of the Middle East suffer from their wealth having been acquired in the modern era via oil, the Royals and ruling classes of the west acquired most of their wealth through running empires and exploiting other countries, if not brutally conquering and supressing them. Does the fact they did this in an era when it was acceptable behaviour and the brutal part was not viewed by millions on TV make it ok for them to retain all this wealth? As to the current political situation in Bahrain, it is very simple, Bahrain lies just a few miles from the coast of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the West and a couple of hundred miles over the water from the Republic of Iran to the East, anyone who understands to local politics will know that Saudi will never allow the Shia Muslims to take control in Bahrain as they would ally themselves with Iran, this would not be acceptable to Saudi anymore then the US found the placement of Russian missiles in Cuba acceptable. Saudi would simply annex Bahrain (this would be very simple, there is a causeway for their tanks to roll over) and then the Shia population would be a small minority within the Saudi Kingdom, not a situation they would enjoy, the Saudi rulers would be far less tolerant of them then the rulers of Bahrain and although the Saudis do not always behave in a way that we in the West approve of they are our ally as opposed to our avowed enemy as Iran is.

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