Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy [June 5, 2018]   [open pdf - 1MB]

"An uprising against Bahrain's Al Khalifa ruling family that began on February 14, 2011, has diminished in intensity, but incarceration of oppositionist and periodic demonstrations continue. The mostly Shiite opposition to the Sunni-minority-led regime has not achieved its goal of establishing a constitutional monarchy, but the unrest has compelled the ruling family to undertake at least some modest reforms. The mainstream opposition uses peaceful forms of dissent, but small factions, reportedly backed by Iran, have stockpiled increasingly sophisticated weaponry and have claimed responsibility for bombings and other attacks on security officials. The Bahrain government's repression has presented a policy dilemma for the United States 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 1948; 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 7,000 U.S. forces in Bahrain, mostly located at a naval headquarters site. Bahrain has relied on U.S.made arms, but, because of the government's use of force against protesters, the Obama Administration held up some new weapons sales to Bahrain and curtailed U.S. assistance to Bahrain's internal security organizations led by the Ministry of Interior."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, 95-1013
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