[Also called the Pearl Revolution (ثورة الؤلؤ), or the February 14 Revolution (ثورة 14 فبراير)]
Ruled by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa since 1999, Bahrain is an absolute monarchy.
In February and March 2011, Bahrain experienced peaceful protests followed by brutal government repression, leaving over 30 dead, mostly demonstrators or bystanders. Prominent opposition leaders were sentenced to lengthy jail terms. Over 40 Shiite mosques and other religious structures were damaged or demolished. A witch hunt followed against erstwhile protesters who faced dismissal from jobs or worse. The protesters called for political reform and equality for the majority Shia population of Bahrain, with many demanding the downfall of the ruling family. The protests found a focus at the Pearl Roundabout in the capital Manama, where a camp was set up.
An early morning raid on the Pearl Roundabout by riot police on February 17, left a number of protesters dead and hundreds injured. On March 14, Gulf Cooperation Council troops (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates) were invited into Bahrain by the government, a “State of National Security” was announced, and a crackdown against protestors began. The Pearl Roundabout was attacked, cleared and the monument at its center razed.
Although a tiny island nation located in the Persian Gulf, Bahrain is a key strategic outpost for the U.S. Navy. Bahrain’s naval ports are the home away from home for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, which — because of its proximity to Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan — has played a more important role in the Iraq War than any other U.S. fleet in the world, and is also responsible for keeping oil shipping lanes in the Gulf secure.
Bahrain: a special case among the Arab spring uprisings Ian Black, Middle East editor, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 19 June 2012
Essential Readings: Bahrain: Origins of a Crisis / Sandy Russell Jones.
Bahrain: Shouting in the dark - Programmes - Al Jazeera English The story of the Arab revolution that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West and forgotten by the world. Special programme Last Modified: 27 Dec 2011.