U.S. pressures Bahrain to control protests
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The U.S. today is expected to put more pressure on Bahrain’s government to use restraint in efforts to tamp down protests. In violent unrest there today, three protesters were killed and hundreds were injured. Bahrain is actually a pretty wealthy place.
The BBC’s Katy Watson is with us from Dubai with the latest. Good morning, Katy.
KATY WATSON: Good morning Steve.
CHIOTAKIS: So if Bahrain is doing well financially, what’s causing this discontent there?
WATSON: Well Bahrain’s no stranger to political volatility. And that’s mainly because of religious differences. Bahrain rulers have encouraged a lot of foreign workers into the country too. Not just from the Gulf buy ex-pats from around the world. And that’s helped Bahrain become a major hub for finance, for shipping, oil refining. But it’s also left the local population competing for jobs with immigrant workers who’ve driven wages down.
CHIOTAKIS: So as a hub then, Katey, are the protests disrupting business the way the unrest did in Egypt?
WATSON: Well at the moment there’s not much in effect thankfully. Unlike most of it’s neighboring states, Bahrain a relatively small oil producer but it does have some major oil refineries. So far all the banks and the stock market have also remained open. And fund managers say they are keeping a close eye on the situation so that’s still being watched.
CHIOTAKIS: And Katey, how is this important to the United States?
WATSON: Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy’s fifth fleet. That helps protect oil tankers passing up through the Gulf to the Suez Canal. So the U.S. does have an interest in obviously keeping a close eye on it. Protests are escalating and now the military is taking control of the capital, so who knows how this will turnout.
CHIOTAKIS: Alright, the BBC’s Katy Watson in Dubai, Katy thank you.
WATSON: You’re welcome.
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