Britain’s former envoy to Bahrain says the Persian Gulf island has almost turned into a vassal state for the US and Saudi Arabia out of fear for its existence in the face of popular protests.
In an interview with Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen television network on Sunday, Peter Ford said, “Bahrain has almost turned into a Saudi and American colony since the beginning of the protests” in 2011.
The ruling Al Khalifah family has been capitulating to Riyadh since this dynasty became scared, said Ford, who served as Britain’s accredited ambassador to Manama for three years.
This fright is also the reason behind the proximity of Bahrain's position to the anti-Iran stance of the United States and Israel, he added.
Manama accuses Tehran of fueling the protests, which the Islamic Republic strongly denies. Years of discrimination have triggered grassroots opposition to kingdom's ruling family.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds more imprisoned during the regime's crackdown on the protests. Scores of Bahraini nationals have also been stripped of citizenship, following accusations of being involved in acts of "terrorism" or measures to undermine national security.
The ruling Bahraini regime has further aligned itself radically with the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel in their bid to demonize and isolate Iran.
Last December, a Bahraini delegation arrived in Israel with a message of “peace” from the country's king.
Recently, Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifah voiced support for Israel after Tel Aviv claimed it had hit “Iranian” targets in Syria’s Tel Aviv-occupied Golan Heights.
Sheikh Khalid twitted that Tel Aviv had a right to "defend itself" after Israel said it had carried out some 50 raids inside Syria.
Ford stepped down as an adviser to the Bahraini royal family after those remarks. The British Foreign Office, Ford said, did not welcome the resignation but the decision generated some “positive reactions” inside Bahrain.
"The Bahraini media were absolutely silent on this issue, and British Foreign Office officials were not happy with my resignation," he said.
Ford also warned Bahrain against throwing itself into regional disputes, saying the tiny island would seriously be hurt if a wider conflict broke out.
"Bahrain will be at risk more than any other region in the event of a widespread conflict between Israel on the one hand, and Lebanon, Syria and Iran on the other, due to its proximity to Iran and the instability of Bahrain."