Friday, February 25, 2011

STRATFOR: Bahrain & Middle Eastern balance of power

Bahrain in the middle

Both geographically & geopolitically, the tiny island lies between two giant rivals.
Bahrain lies in the middle of an age-old contention between Iran and Saudi Arabia... and the balance between the two rivals could soon be tipped.

A strong Iraq was a nice buffer between Saudi Arabia and Iran, but a strong Iraq is no more. Now there's unrest in Bahrain, whose Shiite majority lives under Sunni rule. If the protests in Bahrain lead to concessions for the Shia, it could energize Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority. And in the Middle Eastern balance of power, a weaker Saudi Arabia means a potentially stronger Iran.

Why does this matter? 40% of the world's seaborne oil passes through the very narrow Strait of Hormuz every day. Iran is on one side; what if it were on both... Imagine the disruption to the world economy if Iran mined the strait.

Gadhafi's rants make for good television, but pay attention to what happens in Bahrain. These are the nuances you won't learn flipping through TV channels showing angry protesters with cries for democracy. Subscribe today tounderstand what's really going on behind this wave of Middle East unrest - and how it affects nations around the globe.

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