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

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Congressional rept.

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The uprising against Bahrains Al Khalifa royal family that began in Bahrain on February 14, 2011, amidst other regional uprisings, has not toppled Bahrains regime or achieved the goals of the mostly Shiite opposition to establish a constitutional monarchy. Demonstrations have continued, although smaller and less frequent since mid-2013, as Bahrains Shiites seek to bring pressure to bear on the Sunni-dominated government to increase Shiite political influence and rights. The government has arrested and sought to intimidate Shiite leaders while asserting that the opposition is radicalizing, using bombings and other violent tactics against security officials. The crisis has demonstrated that the grievances of the Shiite majority over the distribution of power and economic opportunities were not satisfied by the modest reforms during 1999-2010. The government and opposition have attempted to resolve the unrest through two national dialogues July 2011 and February-December 2013, but with limited results. A pivotal report by a government-appointed Independent Commission of Inquiry BICI, released November 23, 2011 was critical of the governments actions against the unrest, but outside human rights groups assessed that overall implementation of the 26 BICI recommendations has been modest. The Obama Administration did not at any time call for an end to the Al Khalifa regime, but it has criticized its use of repressive measures, urged compromise and dialogue, and halted the sale of some arms that the government could potentially use against protesters. The U.S. criticism and arms sales holds have angered some Al Khalifa officials but also dissatisfied the opposition, which asserts that the United States is downplaying regime abuses to protect its extensive security relationship with Bahrain. Bahrain has provided key support for U.S. interests by hosting U.S. naval headquarters for the Persian Gulf for over 60 years.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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