Bahrain Cuts Ties With Iran As The Sunni-Shiite Conflict Intensifies
Following Saudi Arabia's latest move in the continued Sunni-Shiite conflict in the Middle East, Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Iran Monday. Isa al-Hamadi, Bahrain's Minister of Media Affairs, announced that Iranian diplomats had 48 hours to leave the country. Despite the United States' confidence in facilitating peaceful relations with Iran, the country is finding itself in hot water with its neighbors.
Bahrain's decision comes one day after Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran, after Iranian protesters entered the Saudi embassy and set multiple fires Saturday. The protesters were outraged over the executions of Shiite cleric Sheik Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others by the Saudi government. Saudi Arabia is a Sunni-majority country, while Iran is Shiite-led. Though Bahrain has a Shiite-majority population, its current king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, is Sunni, and Bahrain is Saudi Arabia's closest ally in the region. There is a strong likelihood that the United Arab Emirates, another Saudi ally, could be the next country to cut ties with Iran.
On Monday, Russian state news said that Moscow was willing to step in and mediate the brewing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The U.S. government has also encouraged the two countries to take "affirmative steps" to have peaceful talks. But Saudi Arabia and Iran have butted heads for years, and the latest row between the two could signify a dramatic shift for the region.