Diplomats doubted Iran-Bahrain link

Feb. 15, 2011 at 8:03 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Leaked State Department cables show U.S. diplomats felt the Bahrain government had no evidence Iran was fomenting unrest among Shiites.

The cables were among the millions of pages obtained by WikiLeaks, The Guardian reported. Bahrain is important to U.S. interests because the 5th Fleet is based there and because a majority of the population is Shiite while the ruling Al-Khalifa family is Sunni.

"To date, we have seen no convincing evidence of Iranian weapons or government money here since at least the mid-1990s," a diplomatic cable said in 2009. "If the GOB (government of Bahrain) had convincing evidence of more recent Iranian subversion, it would quickly share it with us."

Bahrainis, like many others in the region, have been in the streets recently in protests inspired by those in Tunisia and Egypt. The cables warn of the large Shiite underclass in Bahrain, especially unemployed young men.

U.S. diplomats credit King Hamad with recognizing repression as a dead end and creating an open political system.

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