The al-Khalifas are aware that their strongest card in trying to discredit the opposition is to claim it has Iranian links. US embassy cables revealed by Wikileaks show that the Bahrain government has continually making this claim to a sceptical US embassy over the years, but has never provided any evidence. This propaganda claiming Iranian plots is crude, but plays successfully in Sunni Gulf states that see an Iranian hand behind every Shia demand for equal rights and an end to discrimination. It also gets an audience in Washington, conscious that its Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, and fearful of anything that might strengthen Iran.
Among the most experienced commentators on Iraq, he has written four books on the country’s recent history. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006 and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009.