EU adds Bahrain to new tax haven blacklist

  • Jerusalem crisis raises sensitive political dilemma for Bahrain’s leadership

December 5

European Union adds Bahrain to new tax haven blacklist

The EU has added Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, to a new blacklist consisting of 17 jurisdictions deemed by Brussels to be tax havens. As a result of the announcement, EU institutions may lose their right to engage in financial operations in both the countries. Manama and Abu Dhabi responded saying they have taken required steps to exchange financial information and hence did not deserve to be featured in the list. The two states, however, vowed to do more to satisfy the EU.

Analysis: The failure of both Bahrain and the UAE—major financial centers in the GCC — to meet EU regulations indicates their difficulty bringing domestic banking systems in alignment with Western transparency norms. Such a delay is surprising, given how Manama and the UAE want to encourage investment in respective infrastructure and transformation projects.

December 10

Bahraini delegation faces difficulty in Israel/Palestine

An interfaith Bahraini delegation called “This is Bahrain” visited Israel/Palestine to discuss Manama’s plans to “normalize and strengthen ties with Israel” and to send a “message of peace and brotherhood”. Palestinian guards at the al-Aqsa mosque, however, refused entry to the delegation over the GCC’s perceived indifference toward the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

December 20

Bahrain’s foreign minister advises to focus on Iran, not Jerusalem

Manama’s Foreign Minister, Khalid Al Khalifa, took to Twitter saying that the region must address the threat posed by Iran without becoming too distracted by the Jerusalem crisis. He tweeted: “It’s not helpful to pick a fight with the USA over side issues while we together fight the clear and present danger of the Theo-Fascist Islamic republic.”

Analysis: Al-Khalifa’s comments illustrate Bahrain’s role in negotiating an opening of relations between Israel and the Gulf states. The foreign minister’s tweet hints at implicit Arab support to make peace with Israel and not getting bogged down by the debate over Jerusalem.

December 25

Military court sentences six to death, annuls citizenship

A military court handed the death penalty to six men and canceled their citizenship after convicting them of establishing a terror cell and planning the assassination of a military official. Additionally, seven others received 7-year jail sentences and had their citizenship revoked. The court also acquitted five others. Eight of the 18 involved were convicted in absentia with the state-owned media claiming that they had fled to Iraq and Iran.

Analysis: The six death penalties send a message that any rioting or planning against the interests of the state will be met with swift punishment.

Photo credit: Flickr/Creative Commons/Thijs ter Haar