Bahrain royals split over Sunni groups


A faction of the ruling Khalifa family has been supporting hardline Sunni groups on the same political wavelength as al-Qaida, the Los Angeles Times said Saturday.


It is unclear where King Hamed ibn Isa Khalifa stands, but Khalid ibn Ahmed Khalifa, minister of state for royal court affairs, is considered a leader of the hard-liners.


"The royal court minister is backed by the Sunni extremists and he backs them," one Bahraini analyst told the Times. "It’s a very dangerous game. They’re going down a slippery road."


The newspaper said some of the supporters of the Sunnis see it as a necessary means of curbing the influence of the Shiites, who make up the majority of Bahrain’s population and are the power center in Iran.


The United States favors a moderate and stable Bahrain since the tiny island nation is flush with oil, sits on the strategic Persian Gulf and is home base of the U.S. 5th Fleet.


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