Three years after the eruption of a popular uprising in Bahrain that security forces subdued but have failed to stamp out, the ruling family has launched a new dialogue with the opposition but a breakthrough to end the turmoil remains elusive.

Bahrain’s fellow conservative Gulf Arab states and the West have high stakes in the stability of the island monarchy because it hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet and lies at the heart of a tussle for regional influence between Shi’ite Muslim Iran and Sunni powerhouse and world No. 1 oil producer Saudi Arabia.

But Bahrain seems trapped in a treadmill of recrimination and low-level but chronic political conflict on the third anniversary of the February 14 uprising spearheaded by majority Shi’ites seeking democratic reform and an end to alleged discrimination at the hands of the Sunni Muslim monarchy.