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Bahrain Introduction 2012

SOURCE: 2012 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK AND OTHER SOURCES











Bahrain Introduction 2012
SOURCE: 2012 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK AND OTHER SOURCES


Page last updated on February 15,

Background:
In 1783, the Sunni Al-Khalifa family captured Bahrain from the Persians. 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 transformed itself into an international banking center. Bahrain's small size and central location among Persian Gulf countries require it to play a delicate balancing act in foreign affairs among its larger neighbors. In addition, the Sunni-led government has struggled to manage relations with its approximately 70% Shia-majority population. During the mid-to-late 1990s, Shia activists mounted a low-intensity uprising to demand that the Sunni-led government stop systemic economic, social, and political discrimination against Shia Bahrainis. King HAMAD bin Isa Al-Khalifa, after succeeding his late father in 1999, pushed economic and political reforms in part to improve relations with the Shia community. After boycotting the country's first round of democratic elections under the newly-promulgated constitution in 2002, Shia political societies participated in 2006 and 2010 in legislative and municipal elections and Wifaq, the largest Shia political society, won the largest bloc of seats in the elected lower-house of the legislature both times althugh they later resigned amid the unrest in 2011. In early 2011, Shia discontent boiled over into large demonstrations that resulted in a heavy-handed government response and the resignation of 18 Wifaq legislators. The September 2011 byelection - which Wifaq boycotted - was held to fill seats they had vacated and featured low voter turnout and victories for progovernment candidates. The government later commissioned the Bahrain Independent Commission (BICI) of Inquiry report to examine its actions during the unrest of 2011.

In early 2011, Bahrain's fractious opposition sought to ride a rising tide of popular Arab protests to petition for the redress of popular grievances. In mid-February, a vanguard of hardline activists - who reject the legitimacy of the Al Khalifa regime and have sometimes instigated low-level violence - organized demonstrations in Shia neighborhoods demanding a new constitution, release of hundreds of Shia prisoners, and an end to discriminations in all sectors of society. Cycles of protestor deaths, funerals, and clashes with security forces ensued, escalating domestic tensions. The government's offers of modest political and economic concessions went nowhere as did the king's "national dialogue" with the opposition. In mid-March 2011, with the backing of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) capitals - especially Riyadh and Abu Dhabi - King HAMAD put an end to the mass public gatherings and increasingly disruptive demonstrations by declaring a state of emergency and authorizing the military to take all measures to "protect the safety of the country and its citizens." Manama also welcomed a contingent of mostly Saudi and Emirati forces as part of a GCC deployment intended to help Bahraini security forces maintain order. By mid-April security forces had largely relegated demonstrations to outlying Shia neighborhoods and villages, and negotiations between the government and opposition reached a stalemate. Manama exacted retribution against opposition groups and their supporters through mass firings, arrests, and sectarian incitement. In March, the Gulf Cooperation Council pledged $20 billion in financial aid to Bahrain and Oman over a 10-year period to assist the two nations in their struggle with Arab protests. In June, in an effort to salvage Bahrain's image and economy, King HAMAD lifted the state of emergency, offered to renew talks with opposition leaders, and formed an independent commission of experts from the legal community to investigate abuses during the February and March protests. The government held a byelection in September 2011 to fill 18 seats that were vacated earlier in the year when Wifaq withdrew from the National Assembly.


NOTE: 1) The information regarding Bahrain on this page is re-published from the 2012 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Bahrain Introduction 2012 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Bahrain Introduction 2012 should be addressed to the CIA.
2) The rank that you see is the CIA reported rank, which may habe the following issues:
  a) They assign increasing rank number, alphabetically for countries with the same value of the ranked item, whereas we assign them the same rank.
  b) The CIA sometimes assignes counterintuitive ranks. For example, it assigns unemployment rates in increasing order, whereas we rank them in decreasing order






This page was last modified 07-Mar-12
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