Bahrain — After facing of months of crackdowns, Shiite leaders in the tiny island kingdom of Bahrain awaited results Sunday from parliamentary elections they hoped would be a show of strength against Sunni rulers. But early allegations of voting problems pointed to possible challenges to the outcome in this key Western ally.
The claims — which included hundreds of Shiites reportedly blocked from voting — could complicate hopes of cooling tensions after waves of arrests and street clashes between majority Shiites who claimed widespread discrimination and the Sunni leadership seeking to maintain its grip.
The voting Saturday was likely to resonate well beyond the 40-seat chamber at stake, and could touch on the long-term stability of Bahrain, a strategic American partner. As home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, the island nation is a centerpiece of Washington's efforts to confront Iran's military expansion in the Gulf.