12.05.2014 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Bahrain-Russia-USA: clarifying the relationships

23421The current administration of Barrack Obama, considering itself the new ruler of the world à la Napoleon, in an attempt to subsume the remaining governments under itself, is crossing every conceivable border and acting with completely unfettered audacity. It was recently, abruptly, and sternly announced that the United States “regards with great disapproval the decision of Bahrain to sign the investment agreement on collaboration with Russia” while the governments of the USA and a group of European countries imposed economic sanctions on Moscow. “Russia continues to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, and it is no time for any country to carry on business as usual with Russia.” Announced the official representative of the US State Department, according to Reuters. “We raised this problem with the government of Bahrain,” – the bureaucrat snidely noted. In order words, Manama will face growing pressure in an attempt to force the Bahrainian government to get on board with America’s “correct” policy.

The completely elementary question arises, what exactly has the government of Bahrain done wrong, that Washington decided to throw all its force and efforts behind “correcting” this small emirate in the Persian Gulf. The present anger of Washington’s hawks was invoked by the results of a visit to Russia by the Crown Prince, deputy commander of the armed forces, first deputy prime minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, sheik Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa. Readers might think that at this meeting in Moscow, a new aggressive military alliance was forged between the two countries, which threatens not only the interests of the USA, but of the global order as a whole. Far from it, this was a peaceful visit, at which trade and economic issues were the primary topic. And here are the facts.

During the visit, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Mumtalakat, signed a Memorandum on Joint Investment between the two countries. The general director of Mumtalakat, Mohammad Hashim Al Koheji was also included in the International Expert Panel for the RDIF. As a member of the Panel, which includes managers of major direct investment funds and sovereign wealth funds from countries in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, he will take part in the strategic planning of the RDIF’s activities, and also assist in the development of the fund.

During the visit, the Saint Petersburg delegation of Bahrain signed a memorandum of mutual understanding with Governor Georgii Poltavchenko. In particular, the regions will collaborate in the area of water supply and sewerage, the petrochemical industry, pharmaceuticals, and also in the development of youth and student exchange. The regions’ plans include a business forum involving representatives of industry from both countries. Furthermore, Bahrain simplified its visa regime with our country. Now Russians may receive a visa directly at the airport of Bahrain and stay in the government’s territory for two weeks. In this regard, Gulf Air will not be offering direct flights to Russia. “It is impossible to develop trade and investment if intercourse between the two countries is impeded, and for this reason we are interested in arranging flights from Moscow to Bahrain and vice versa… We already came to an agreement, and by October, direct flights will be available between our countries.” Announced the Minister of Transportation of Bahrain, Kamal ibn Akhmed.

The joint venture with government participation, Silah Gulf, and the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Bahrain do not rule out the possibility of investments in some infrastructure projects in Russia, in particular in a bridge over the Kerch Strait, as stated by the executive director for developing business of the Bahrain council on economic development and the chairman of the board of directors of Silah Gulf, Vivian Jamal.

“I think that our companies may be interested in the infrastructure sector in particular. Thus, our joint venture with government participation, Silah Gulf, could be involved in financing the planned bridge over the Kerch Strait, and our Sovereign Wealth Fund is also considering the possibility of implementing various infrastructure projects both within the country and abroad. At present, we are preparing the begin construction of two major domestic infrastructure projects: a railroad bridge that connects us with Saudi Arabia and a railroad branch line to Qatar.” Stated Vivian Jamal. Therefore, the Sovereign Wealth Fund and the joint venture with government participation could participate in the construction of a bridge over the Kerch Strait, she emphasized, adding that the company has experience in conducting similar projects.

Receiving the honored delegation of Bahrain headed by the Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated: “I would like to talk with you about your perspective on the situation in the region as a whole. I’m referring to all the aspects of this rather complicated process: Israel-Palestinian regulations, the situation in Egypt, — I would be curious to know the opinion of your government, — and also the situation in Syria and Iran.” In his turn, sheik Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa commented on the “inequality of the geopolitical situation” in the region.

The Russian President noted that although the Russian Federation and Bahrain “cannot boast of large-scale economic relations”, nevertheless, the diplomatic and political relations between the two countries have always been very friendly.

Sheik Salman al Khalifa, King of Bahrain, asked Putin to do all that is necessary to improve development and deepen bilateral relations. The head of the Bahrainian delegation stated that Russian and Bahrain had already achieved success in the area of trade and economic relations. “I claim that now is the right time, and in fact is long overdue, for us to develop and improve our mutual relations. I am 44 years old, and I am ashamed to say that this is only my first visit to Russia. Your country is beautiful. I have been touched by the Russian people, Russian culture, architecture, and history.” Remarked the Crown Prince of Bahrain.

You may recall that last December, the Prime Minister of Bahrain, Prince Khalifa ibn Salman al Khalifa announced that the fluctuations in US policy in the Middle East could lead to key countries in the region re-orienting from their western ally to a closer relationship with Russia. According to the Prince, US relations with many countries in the Middle East were complicated after the signature in November 2013 by the “sextet” of international negotiators (USA, Russia, Great Britain, France, China, and Germany) of the agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. The region also noted the West’s behaviour during the crisis regarding chemical weapons in Syria, in which case the initiative to reach a solution originated in Moscow.

And yet the results of this friendly visit by the delegation of Bahrain to Russia have invoked the rage of representatives of the current American administration, faithfully carrying out the orders of the true rulers of America. But it would be a mistake to consider their opinion on Bahrain and Russian as shared by all Americans. There are other opinions that do not call for wielding the stick in foreign policy, and give other governments that opportunity to peacefully develop and build their mutual relationships. The most characteristic expression of this viewpoint was made by the former presidential candidate, Representative Ron Paul: “Is it our place to be lecturing anyone about violating sovereignty? What about the sovereignty of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, North Africa? We are constantly getting involved in foreign matters — our drones are flying in Pakistan, we have 800 military bases in 130 countries around the world.” The Republican expressed his disapproval.

The politician noted that the USA is constantly interfering in the internal affairs of other countries while preaching democracy. He brought up the example of Egypt when Washington helped bring the opposition “Muslim Brotherhood” to power, and then their leader Mohamed Morsi, who was elected president, was overthrown in a violent revolution. “I do not like hypocrisy. We preach while at the same time for whatever reason we muddy the waters behind us.” Remarked the congressman.

It should be noted that this is the viewpoint most shared in Russia, and many think that the United States, no matter how they try, cannot prevent Russia from establishing friendly relations with Bahrain and other countries around the world.

Victor Mikhin, member correspondent of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.