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Bahrain — [Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:23 am on 11th September 2018.

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Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Conservative, Aldershot 10:23 am, 11th September 2018

My hon. Friend is exactly right. Bahrain is at the frontline of Iranian subversion, which is a pitched military battle in which many Bahraini security personnel have become casualties.

We have had manifold relations with the Kingdom of Bahrain over two centuries; we co-operate on a range of issues. It is not only about our remarkable and hugely important new naval base, HMS Juffair, and nor is it only about the huge range of technical assistance and co-operation or other matters, such as education and culture; it is about the mutual interest and trust that we have with the leadership in Bahrain, which allow us to contribute and guide them towards better human rights outcomes. I look forward to the Minister’s confirmation and elucidation of the importance of that close relationship to the benefit of all involved.

We must almost remember—I will conclude with this—that, broadly, we face a very stark choice in our relations with Bahrain. The question is whether we want to support this modernising monarchy, which is delivering good governance and trying its best for its population. Some of us know that the foremost exponents of political reform in the Kingdom of Bahrain include His Royal Highness the Crown Prince. There is a huge impulse in the ruling family to deliver reform and improvements.

The choice we face is whether to assist the reform to bring it to fruition or to say, “No, we don’t want anything to do with it. Bahrain can become an Islamic republic under the influence of Iran.” Just think of the profound regional and strategy consequences if the Khalifa family and the Government of Bahrain were overthrown by violent Islamic revolution. That would be strategically catastrophic to everyone’s interests in the region.