Britain has demonstrated its long-term commitment and solidarity with Bahrain in the building of a £15 million permanent naval base in Mina Salman. Inevitably, there will be those who seek to criticize or undermine this decision. However, there are many reasons why this benefits us all.
This substantial investment will benefit local businesses. Meanwhile, additional visitors to our shores will be good news for the hospitality industry. Furthermore, Britain’s decision represents a major vote of confidence in Bahrain’s stability and security; giving a tangible signal to people around the world that Bahrain is a safe and welcoming state, meriting investment and partnership.
Arguably, Bahrain is one of the most natural partners for Britain in the region, as an island Constitutional Monarchy, with a representative parliamentary system which enshrines the rights of the individual; Bahrain enjoys an open and tolerant society where people of all faiths and backgrounds are respected and welcomed.
An example of this are the thousands of Britons and Europeans who work in neighbouring Gulf states, but choose to base their homes and families in Bahrain, because of the family-friendly lifestyle; the safe environment; and the tolerant and hospitable climate that Bahrain offers.
Bahrain is also a natural partner for Britain in response to the threats of extremism and radicalization. These threats are alien to our traditions and way of life, but they pose a danger to us all.
The expansion of Britain’s naval presence is clearly in part a response to the challenge of groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. However, radicalization requires a multi-faceted approach in order that our young people are not seduced by the propaganda of terrorists and so funding, recruitment and promotion of these groups is effectively outlawed everywhere. Such efforts require close partnerships between our nations, as this is a challenge that by its nature straddles national borders.
Likewise states which seek to spread sectarian tensions, to damage regional security and to undermine the governing systems of other states must be effectively countered. The solidarity of nations like Britain and Bahrain is important to confront those entities which seek to harm us all.
Britain over the last few years has demonstrated that it is one of Bahrain’s closest friends, in good times and bad. Britain has been involved in several initiatives in Bahrain to promote reform and support reconciliation and dialogue. For this the British public deserves our thanks.
We in Bahrain affirm that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Britain in our readiness to counter extremism and intolerance, while working together to guarantee our shared security and prosperity.