Instead of participating in a Camp David summit of Gulf leaders – which was organized by U.S. President Barack Obama to garner support from Gulf Arab leaders – the King of Bahrain decided to attend the Royal Windsor Horse Show, where he met on Friday with Queen Elizabeth II and other British royalty.
Bahraini King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa decided instead – like Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who also ditched Obama’s summit – to send his crown prince to the United States.
The Bahrain royal court said that the king left for England on Thursday, accepting Queen Elizabeth’s invitation to witness “the joint yearly celebration at Windsor.”
“His Majesty the King and Queen Elizabeth II will hold a meeting to review the longstanding mutual ties between both royal families in addition to the progress and development of bilateral relations and cooperations in various fields,” the statement added.
Some have interpreted the Bahraini King’s refusal to attend Obama’s summit as a snub meant to show dissatisfaction with the President’s ongoing negotiations with Iran. President Obama’s two-day summit was primarily focused on “reassuring Arab leaders who are skeptical of his outreach to Iran,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
But Bahrain’s Foreign Minister said that the King’s absence was “due to a longstanding prior engagement of His Majesty the King in the United Kingdom,” according to the Daily Mail.
The Sunni monarch of the small Gulf state rules a Shia majority nation, rife with regular protests related to human rights issues and disenfranchisement. Some experts have insisted that Iran is purposely stirring tensions between the two sects, hoping that the Shiites will overthrow the ruling al-Khalifa family.