Migrant Labor and the Politics of Development in Bahrain

by Rob Franklin
published in MER132

Bahrain was, after Iran and Iraq, the first country in the Gulf to have its petroleum resources developed by Western companies. It has a longer history of economic and infrastructural development than any other state in the peninsula. Bahrain’s petroleum reserves and producing capacity are also the smallest of the Gulf oil producing states. Thus, Bahrain’s rulers were the first in the Gulf to confront the problem of building a diversified modern economy. Furthermore, while political legitimacy is problematical throughout the Gulf, it is especially so in Bahrain.


published in MER143

Torture in Bahrain

The Elusive Quest for Gulf Security

by 'Abd al-Hadi Khalaf
published in MER148

Iran’s revolution had a profound impact on the regional balance of forces in the Gulf. Until 1979, the two most powerful and ambitious states in the region, Iran and Iraq, were sufficiently constrained by each other, and by the presence of United States forces and Washington’s friendly relations with most of the Gulf states, that neither seriously attempted to overturn the status quo.

Embracing Crisis in the Gulf

by Toby Jones
published in MER264

All claims to the contrary, the Persian Gulf monarchies have been deeply affected by the Arab revolutionary ferment of 2011-2012. Bahrain may be the only country to experience its own sustained upheaval, but the impact has also been felt elsewhere. Demands for a more participatory politics are on the rise, as are calls for the protection of rights and formations of various types of civic and political organization. Although these demands are not new, they are louder than before, including where the price of dissent is highest in Saudi Arabia, Oman and even the usually hushed United Arab Emirates. The resilience of a broad range of activists in denouncing autocracy and discomfiting autocrats is inspirational.

Operation Lip Service

by Chris Toensing | published May 14, 2012

The popular uprising in Bahrain shows no signs of going away.

The royal family tried crushing the revolt, importing shock troops from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. It tried jailing important figures in the opposition, such as human rights activist ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Khawaja, who as of early May had been on hunger strike for 90 days. The island’s rulers tried quieting the opposition by promising to investigate the abuses and making minor cessions of power from the king to the parliament.

In the Kingdom of Tear Gas

by Gregg Carlstrom | published April 13, 2012

The talk of Bahrain at present is talk -- the possible renewal of dialogue between the government and the opposition -- but the reality is that street protests, after simmering in outlying villages for months, have begun to heat up in the capital of Manama.

Bahrain's Sunni Awakening

by Justin Gengler | published January 17, 2012

Bahrain’s bout with political unrest is nearing its one-year anniversary. Though there are multiple parties to the protracted conflict, analysts continue to focus almost exclusively on a single dyad, Sunni vs. Shi‘i. To some, the ongoing mobilization of Bahraini Shi‘a since February 14, 2011 is a continuation of a decades-long struggle for basic social reform. To others, it is an opportunistic attempt at wholesale takeover of the country, supported in spirit if not in deed by foreign sympathizers. By either of these readings, the heart of the matter in Bahrain is the standoff between the Sunni state and the Shi‘i-led opposition. Many see the revolt on this small island as but a microcosm of the competition for regional dominance between the Arab Gulf monarchies and Iran, as well as their respective great power patrons.

Bahrain Regime Stages Confessions, Rejects Compromise

by Joe Stork
published in MER200

At the end of May, the government of Bahrain summoned the international press to Manama for what it promised would be a major policy statement on Monday, June 3. I was in Bahrain at the time, conducting interviews for a report on human rights conditions there. Bahraini opponents of the regime in exile abroad, and critics inside the country with whom I spoke were predicting that the amir, Sheikh ‘Isa Al Khalifa, would announce an expansion of the four-year old handpicked Consultative Council, or Shura Council, from 30 to 40 men, perhaps even allowing some civic or religious groups a role in nominating candidates.


published in MER201

On Bahrain

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Bahrain's Crisis Worsens

by Joe Stork
published in MER204

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