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State

Capital

Bahrain

Manama

Currency unit

Bahrain dinar

Connections

Arabs

Gulf

Empire

Islam

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

History

Bahrain (the two seas) has long been a trading center in the Gulf with connections both to Arabia and Persia. It was under the influence of the Sumerian civilization in the third millennium BC In the 4th century AD it was annexed by the Persian Empire, though inhabited by Arabs. Many of the people were Christian (Nestorian) as was the Persian governor by the time of Mohammed.

It was conquered by the Abbasids and became part of the Arab Empire. The Portuguese occupied it in 1521. It was taken by the Persians in 1602. The Al-Khalifah family took it in 1783, migrating from Qatar, since when they have ruled it. British treaty rights were established in 1820.

It is an island Emirate (kingdom) in the Gulf, now linked to Saudi Arabia by a road causeway. It was formerly a British guided state with a British Resident, until independence in 1971. There is oil but it is now nearly exhausted and Bahrain's income is based on banking and services (such as oil refining) for the other Gulf states. Its airline, Gulf Air, and transit airport are of regional importance. There is fresh water from springs.

There is a major US naval base there, from which the whole of US naval forces in the Gulf are directed.

Among the 70% of Shi'ites there is a large Iranian Shi'ite minority resident on the island. Bahrain is a member of the Gulf Co-operation Council, an alliance of Arab powers originally intended to unite against Iran, but also used to defend against Iraq. However, the Shi'ites are more sympathetic to Iran (but the demonstrators deny any sympathy for the regime in Iran). They are related to the Shi'ite population of the neighboring provinces of Saudi Arabia.

Sunni foreigners are invited to become citizens to reduce the Shi'ites' manjority. How loyal would they be if the current disputes come to conflict?

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Politics

Head of State, the hereditary Emir of Bahrain. There was an assembly 1973-75 but it was closed down, mainly from fear of the Shi'ite majority, who include Persian speakers, and also from pressure by Saudi Arabia.

The prime minister from the 1970s until February 2011 (so far) is the uncle of the king, and believed to be the most influential ruler.

As a result there is an increasing insurgency with riots and bomb attacks. The demand of the opposition is for restoration of the Assembly and a constitution.

Saudi Arabia is known to assist the government and may well occupy the country if the insurgency gets worse. There are still British former colonial officials, especially in security.

In February 2002 the Emir proclaimed his title to be King and he said the regime is now a Constitutional Monarchy. Only time will tell whether this means any change towards a democratic system.

Elections result in Shi'ite parties not getting the representation they would expect. This is said to be arranged by the constituency boundaries.

During February 2011 there were demonstrations, mainly by the Shi'ites, for democratic rights.

On 15 March a large force from Saudi Arabia and the UAE moved in to bring the demonstrations to an end. Does this make Bahrain a Protectorate of Saudi Arabia, a country that does not permit any sign of dissent?

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 History

 Politics

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Economics

Formerly an oil producer (in 1930 its oil made geologists suspect that Saudi Arabia might possess oil). Now the oil production is winding down and services such as banking and refining along with investment income have replaced oil production.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

Green/Ecology

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

Human Rights

No rights for dissidents. Secret police at the service of the regime. Torture for ShiĠite dissidents common.

Climate effects

Last revised 17/03/11


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