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Small State, Dangerous Region

A Strategic Assessment of Bahrain

Mitchell Belfer

The Kingdom of Bahrain’s perseverance as an independent state in one of the world’s most dangerous regions presents an enigma in the metanarrative of three centuries of near perpetual strife along the Arabian littoral. This mystery is due to Bahrain’s size when compared to the very ambitious regional and international actors which have been eyeing Bahrain as a prize, a strategic stepping-stone to extending a form of hegemony over the region. Yet Bahrain is more than a pawn in the geopolitical games of larger states; it has its own set of skills and capabilities. It may be a small state in a dangerous region, but it is not weak. This work traces the long history of Bahrain and reveals how it has survived, especially since Revolutionary Iran has emerged as its main source of threat.