Nakhleh, a respected academic who became a senior CIA official before retiring a few years ago, argues that the reform-segment of the regime must be strengthened. He argues that this requires the removal of the Prime Minister Shaykh Khalifa bin Salman, who is the longest serving head of government in the world. The PM is widely regarded as an extension of Saudi power in Bahrain and he played an integral role in the Saudi-led intervention in March 2011. The reputedly corrupt PM is the leading opponent of political reform in Bahrain.
The removal of the PM is a precondition for the effective implementation of the findings of the Independent Commission of Inquiry, the group led by the respected international legal expert M. Cherif Bassiouni.
Nakhleh also urges the closing of the U.S. Navy base in Bahrain, which serves to implicate the U.S. in the government's systematic repression of legitimate dissent. The closing of the Fifth Fleet base would not only shake ruling circles in Bahrain, but it serve as a riposte to Saudi Arabia's campaign to stifle significant political reform in Bahrain. Indeed, just talking about the possibility will cause some heartburn in Riyadh.