aside PRIMER ON MIDDLE EAST, PART XIV / BAHRAIN

Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Bahrain is another  beautiful gulf state, ruled by King HAMAD bin Isa Al-Khalifa (since March, 1999) and to a lesser degree by Crown Prince SALMAN bin Hamad Al-Khalifa (son of the monarch, born October 1969). The heads of the government are, Prime Minister KHALIFA bin Salman Al-Khalifa (since 1971); First Deputy Prime Minister (King’s son) SALMAN bin Hamad Al Khalifa (since March 2013); Deputy Prime Ministers ALI bin Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, Jawad bin Salim al-ARAIDH (since December 2006), KHALID bin Abdallah Al Khalifa (since November 2010), MUHAMMAD bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa (since 9/2005).
Bahrain has been an independent state since 1971. The country declared independence from British rule on August 15, 1971, and became a formally independent state on December 16, 1971 which is the date for their National Holiday.  Their formal constitution was adopted on 2/14/2002 and then amended in 2012. The monarchy is hereditary and the prime minister is appointed by the monarch.
Unlike Qatar, the government of Bahrain has been resistant to reforms to where it has been plagued by civil unrest. A lot of their economy has been based on their oil related revenues but this is limited to where they have been plotting to become more financially diversified. Bahrain is host to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
His-Royal-Highness-Prime-Minister-Prince-Khalifa-bin-Salman-Al-khalifa.الشيخ خليفة بن سلمان آل خليفة
His-Royal-Highness-Prime-Minister-Prince-Khalifa-bin-Salman-Al-khalifa.الشيخ خليفة بن سلمان آل خليفة
Excerpts from the CIA’s World Factbook on Bahrain are as follows:
BACKGROUND:
“In 1783, the Sunni Al-Khalifa family took power in Bahrain. In order to secure these holdings, it entered into a series of treaties with the UK during the 19th century that made Bahrain a British protectorate. The archipelago attained its independence in 1971. Facing declining oil reserves, Bahrain has turned to petroleum processing and refining and has become an international banking center. Bahrain’s small size and central location among Gulf countries require it to play a delicate balancing act in foreign affairs among its larger neighbors. The Sunni-
led government has struggled to manage relations with its large Shia-majority population. In early 2011, amid Arab uprisings elsewhere in the region, the Bahraini Government confronted similar protests at home with police and military action, including deploying Gulf Cooperation Council security forces to Bahrain. Ongoing dissatisfaction with the political status quo has led to sporadic clashes between demonstrators and security forces.”
BAHRAIN CITY CENTER
BAHRAIN CITY CENTER/ CAPITAL MANAMA

ECONOMY

“Bahrain has made great efforts to diversify its economy; its highly developed communication and transport facilities make Bahrain home to numerous multinational firms with business in the Gulf. As part of its diversification plans, Bahrain implemented a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US in August 2006, the first FTA between the US and a Gulf state. Bahrain’s economy, however, continues to depend heavily on oil. In 2013, petroleum production and refining accounted for 73% of Bahrain’s export receipts, 88% of government revenues, and 21% of GDP. Other major economic activities are production of aluminum – Bahrain’s second biggest export after oil – finance, and construction. Bahrain continues to seek new natural gas supplies as feedstock to support its expanding petrochemical and aluminum industries. In 2011 Bahrain experienced economic setbacks as a result of domestic unrest, however, the economy recovered in 2012-14, partly as a result of improved tourism. Lower oil prices in 2015 will likely exacerbate Bahrain’s budget deficit.”

KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN
KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN / CAPITAL MANAMA

BBC NEWS 5/20/15 PROFILE ON BAHRAIN:

BULLET POINTS

 ‘Politics: The Khalifa family has ruled since 1783; Bahrain is now a constitutional monarchy with an elected legislative assembly; majority Shia Muslims are demanding more power from Sunni-led government. The government launched a crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 2011, but unrest continues to simmer.”

“Economy: Bahrain is a banking and financial services centre; its small and reasonably prosperous economy is less dependent on oil than most Gulf states.”

Cityscape, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, February, 8, 2010 (Photo by George Dipin/itp images)
Cityscape, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, February, 8, 2010 (Photo by George Dipin/itp images)

“International: Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Bahraini-Qatari ties have been strained though they settled a territorial dispute in 2001.”

GENERAL INFORMATION

“Bahrain – which name means “two seas” – was once viewed by the ancient Sumerians as an island paradise to which the wise and the brave were taken to enjoy eternal life.”

“It was one of the first states in the Gulf to discover oil and to build a refinery; as such, it benefited from oil wealth before most of its neighbors.”

MIDDLE EAST MAP
MIDDLE EAST MAP

“Bahrain never reached the levels of production enjoyed by Kuwait or Saudi Arabia and has been forced to diversify its economy.”

“The country has been headed since 1783 by the Khalifa family, members of the Bani Utbah tribe, who expelled the Persians. From 1861, when a treaty was signed with Britain, until independence in 1971, Bahrain was virtually a British protectorate. Since independence it has forged close links with the United States, and is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.”

-Royal-Highness-Prime-Minister-Prince-Khalifa-bin-Salman-Al-Khalifa-said-that-Bahraini-citizens-support-each-other.
-Royal-Highness-Prime-Minister-Prince-Khalifa-bin-Salman-Al-Khalifa-said-that-Bahraini-citizens-support-each-other.

“The king is the supreme authority and members of the Sunni Muslim ruling family hold the main political and military posts. There are long-running tensions between Bahrain’s Sunnis and the Shia Muslim majority. On occasion, these have spilled over into civil unrest.”

“In 2001 Bahrainis strongly backed proposals put by the emir – now the king – to turn the country into a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament and an independent judiciary.”

“Elections – the first such poll in nearly 30 years – were duly held in 2002 for a 40-member parliament, the Council of Deputies, which included a dozen Shia MPs.”

“Over the years the country enjoyed increasing freedom of expression, and monitors said the human rights situation had improved.”

BAHRAIN/ CAPITAL MANAMA
BAHRAIN/ CAPITAL MANAMA

“However, in early 2011 the government called in the Saudi military to crush protests by demonstrators demanding a greater say in government and an end to what Shias say is systematic discrimination against them in jobs and services.”

“Thousands of demonstrators gathered for several days in the centre of Manama, inspired by the popular uprisings which toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. Several people were killed in clashes with security forces.”

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“Shia resentment has continued to simmer, sporadically erupting in anti-government protests. The controversial decision to allow Bahrain to host the Formula 1 Grand Prix in April 2012 further galvanised protests.”

“Analysts believe that the ruling Khalifa family – which effectively controls the government – is split on how best to respond to opposition calls for a more meaningful dialogue.”

‘It is thought that Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa is a hardliner who is reluctant to make any concessions on the grounds that they will encourage opposition leaders to make more demands.’

BAHRAIN
BAHRAIN

“Crown Prince Salman al-Khalifa, on the other hand, is seen as a moderate, and the opposition is keen that he should be involved in any dialogue. The Crown Prince appeared to have been sidelined after the 2011 security crackdown, but in March 2013 he was appointed deputy prime minister by King Hamad, giving rise to speculation that the king might be prepared to meet some of the opposition’s demands.”

“However, the national dialogue launched in February 2013 ended in stalemate, and was suspended in January 2014.”

KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN
KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN/ CAPITAL MANAMA

The following excerpts are from 10/1/15 Reuters report on Bahrain by Ali Abdelaty, Louise Ireland:

” Bahrain said on Thursday it had recalled its ambassador to Iran, a day after it said security forces had discovered a large bomb-making factory and arrested a number of suspects linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.”

‘Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had also declared the Iranian charge d’affaires in Bahrain a “persona non grata” and gave him 72 hours to leave the country.’

KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN
KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN/ CAPITAL MANAMA

“In a statement on its website, the ministry said the decision to recall its ambassador had come “in light of continued Iranian meddling in the affairs of the kingdom of Bahrain … in order to create sectarian strife and to impose hegemony and control.”

“The Gulf Arab kingdom has been cracking down on militants behind recent bomb attacks on security forces that killed several people this year.”

“Iran denies involvement in any violence in Bahrain.”

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