In 2015, Bahrain was a constitutional monarchy under the rule of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The unicameral National Assembly had 40 elected members that were chosen in a general election. However, the King had the power to appoint another 40 members to the National Assembly. This ensured that the governing body did not go against his policies. The Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa family has been ruling Bahrain since 1783 and their rule has been characterized by authoritarianism and autocracy. In 2011, protests took place in Bahrain due to an economic downturn, but these protests were suppressed by the government with force and violence. In 2015, there were still tensions between the government and opposition movements such as al-Wefaq which advocated for greater democracy in Bahrain. Due to these tensions, political activity was limited and freedom of expression was often curtailed by the government who used oppressive laws to stifle dissent. Despite this, some political parties continued to advocate for reform while others sought dialogue with the government in order to bring about change peacefully. See ehealthfacts for Bahrain in the year of 2005.
Bahrain. The year began with repeated demonstrations since the opposition leader Ali Salman was arrested just before the New Year. Salman, leader of the Shi’ite Muslim movement al-Wefaq, was accused of calling for a force to overthrow the regime in a speech. Prosecutions were brought against him despite widespread protests from the UN and international human rights organizations as well. In June, Salman was sentenced to four years in prison for, among other things, incitement to hatred and disobedience to the law and insult to state institutions. However, he was not convicted for attempting to force political change with violence, which could have given life imprisonment.
Well-known human rights activist Nabil Rajab was sentenced in January to six months in prison for having insulted the Interior and Defense Ministry on Twitter last fall. The verdict was appealed and while he was free from bail, he was remanded, this time for tweeting about the war in Yemen and about alleged torture in a Bahraini prison. The first verdict was upheld and Rajab had to serve a few months before King Hamad in July granted him, citing his state of health. But Rajab still risked up to ten years in prison in the new case.
Despite the judgments, the US State Department announced in June that military support for Bahrain would be resumed as progress was deemed to have been made in the area of human rights and, among other things, political prisoners were released. The support was withdrawn when the 2011 regime hit hard on Shiite Muslim protesters demanding increased influence and democracy. Bahrain was part of the Alliance of States, led by Saudi Arabia, which in March launched air strikes against the Yemeni skin movement to reinstate President Abd al-Rahman Mansur al-Hadi. In September, five Bahraini soldiers were killed in an explosion in southern Saudi Arabia, where they were posted to guard the border with Yemen.
According to Countryaah, Manama is the capital of Bahrain which is located in Western Asia. Five people were sentenced in December to life imprisonment for causing an explosion last year that caused only material damage.
- Also see AbbreviationFinder.org for Bahrain country abbreviations, including geography, history, economy and politics.
The absence of any form of democratic life continued to characterize the emirate of Bahrain, whose internal stability was increasingly entrusted to a repressive policy and to the political and military support of Saudi Arabia to the ruling dynasty. As in all countries of the Arabian Peninsula, the Gulf War of 1990 – 91 marked a watershed in the recent history of Baḥrein. In the aftermath of the conflict, in which the government participated by granting military bases to the British armed forces and the US air force, an opposition movement to the regime developed which demanded the restoration of the Legislative Assembly suppressed in 1975., the freedom to organize parties and trade unions, and women’s access to public life. However, the reformist requests were rejected: the Emir ‚Īsā Bin Sulmān al-Halīfa in fact limited himself to establishing, in December 1992, an Advisory Council of 30 members appointed by him for four years (in September 1996 this body was renewed and brought to 40 members), which did not affect its absolute power.
The government’s closing attitude contributed to the radicalization of the tensions between the Sunni dynasty and the Shiite majority of the population, which contested, together with the lack of democracy, also the progressive marginalization from the world of work in favor of Asian workers, whose immigration it was encouraged by the ruling family. Starting in 1994, also due to growing unemployment, popular demonstrations turned into open clashes between demonstrators and police forces who carried out mass arrests and exiled the Shiite clerics who had led the protest. To restore public order, the government obtained the dispatch of 4000 National Guard soldiers from Saudi Arabia, which shared with the emirate the concern of an uprising of the Shiite population flanked by Iran. Negotiation attempts failed during 1995, while a new petition, signed by more than 20. 000 individuals, calling for the restoration of the National Assembly and democratic freedoms, was ignored in favor of a simple executive reshuffle (June 1995).
Due to the persistent state of disorder (in March 1996 an attack on immigrants from Bangla Desh was attributed by the authorities to Shiite terrorist groups) arrests, illegal detentions and the use of torture by a regime that supplied the lack of internal consensus with broad international support. In addition to Saudi Arabia, in fact, which continued to offer its economic and military aid for the restoration of order and the maintenance of the status quo in Bahrain, the emir received the support of Pakistan, Egypt, Syria and Jordan, as well as Great Britain and the United States, its traditional anti-Iranian allies. Diplomatic relations with Iran, after a long period of tensions,1997 and early 1998, and the visit to Bahrain of the former Iranian president Rafsanǧānī (March 4, 1998) helped to bring the two countries closer together.