Accession Number : AD1015878

Title :   Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy

Descriptive Note : Technical Report

Corporate Author : Congressional Research Service Washington United States

Personal Author(s) : Katzman,Kenneth

Full Text :

Report Date : 29 Aug 2016

Pagination or Media Count : 35

Abstract : Outward signs of the uprising against Bahrains Al Khalifa ruling family that began on February 14, 2011, have diminished, but continued incarceration of dissident leaders, opposition boycotts of elections, and small demonstrations counter government assertions that Bahrain has returned to normal. The mostly Shiite opposition has not achieved its goal of establishing a constitutional monarchy, but the unrest has compelled the ruling family to undertake some reforms, at least in part to avoid international isolation. Reflecting some radicalization of the opposition, underground factions, some of which might be backed by Iran, have claimed responsibility for bombings and other attacks primarily against security officials. The Bahrain governments use of repression against the dissent has presented a policy dilemma for the Obama Administration because Bahrain is a longtime ally that is pivotal to maintaining Persian Gulf security. The country has hosted the U.S. naval headquarters for the Gulf region since 1946; the United States and Bahrain have had a formal Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) since 1991; and Bahrain was designated by the United States as a major non-NATO ally in 2002. There are over 8,000 U.S. forces in Bahrain, mostly located at the continually expanding naval headquarters site. Apparently to address the use of force against protesters, since 2011, Administration policy has been to sell to Bahrain weapons systems that are tailored only for external defense, such as maritime patrol and surveillance equipment, and has reduced Bahrains Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance. Bahrains opposition asserts that the United States is downplaying regime abuses in order to protect the security relationship.Bahraini leaders assert that their primary foreign policy concern is Iran. Bahraini leaders, with corroboration from U.S. official reports, accuse Iran for providing material support to violent opposition factions.

Descriptors :   foreign policy , international relations , united states government , government (foreign) , Bahrain , military forces (united states) , iran , human rights , elections , Iraq , Syria , counterterrorism , Foreign Military Sales , military forces (foreign) , economics

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE