It is thought that the first Sumerian tribes left Bahrain with a course on Mesopotamia more than 5,000 years ago. The island has since been the seat of an intense maritime and trade between Mesopotamia and India, which proved extremely fruitful in the period from the 11th to the 15th century CE During this period saw the Muslim civilization its peak, and its boundaries stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the South Pacific.
Portuguese seafarers settled on the island in 1507 and kept it occupied for a century until displaced by the Persians. From this era came the Iranian claims to sovereignty over this part of the Gulf region, which some call the Persian, others the Arab. Sheik Al-Khalifa sat down in power – as his family has been sitting ever since – and he succeeded in expelling the Persians. Independence lasted until 1861, when another Caliph, fearing a Persian annexation, accepted a patronage agreement with the British. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that BHR stands for Bahrain.
During the two world wars, Bahrain was an important British military base. In 1932, the first oil drilling towers were inaugurated in the Gulf. As was the case in the rest of the Arab world, the 1950s saw the rise of nationalist movements, with their demands for freedom to form trade unions, for democracy and independence.
In December 1954, a general strike broke out in the oil fields. Two years later, the colonial administration offices were attacked. The British troops quelled the rebellion, arrested the leaders of the opposition and sent them into exile. Reforms were gradually introduced and local participation in the public administration was expanded.
In the early 1970s, the British decided to withdraw from their last colonies “east of Suez”, but still maintained their economic and strategic commitment to Bahrain. Bahrain and Qatar refused to be accepted as members of the United Arab Emirates and the country made its independence under the leadership of Sheikh Isa-Sulman Al-Khalifah.
- COUNTRYAAH: Do you know where is Bahrain on the world map? Come to see the location and all bordering countries of Bahrain.
Authorization was issued to the United States, which was granted access to establish naval bases in the country’s ports; these were discontinued only after the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1973. The same year, the progressive forces in parliament gained the majority in local elections, demanding freedom to organize in political parties and the right to a larger percentage of elected politicians. The British, who saw their interests threatened, assisted in August 1975 with the dissolution of parliament decreed by Al-Khalifah.
During the 1970s, Iran succeeded in taking over the Saudi influence in the Emirates, thus introducing some form of supremacy over them. At the same time, a growing illegal Iranian immigration threatened to make them a truly powerful minority group. Shortly before he was assassinated, Saudi King Faisal went on counter-attack, with the launch of a diplomatic offensive that has been continued by his successors.
The Saudi capital, Riyadh, pushed the only emirate truly loyal to the Saudi, Qatar, to settle the border conflict with Bahrain and appealed to “the Arab sentiments” that should unite them – Iran is Islamic, but not Arab !. The attempt, though, failed in 1976 when Saudi Arabia raised its oil price less than other OPEC countries, including Iran.
The Shah of Iran’s fall, which occurred in 1979, aggravated the conflict as official representatives of the New Islamic Republic expressed their intentions to maintain Iran’s claim to the Gulf Islands. In response, the emir intensified the repression, not only against the Iranian and Shiite minority groups, but generally against any form of progressive expression. On the other hand, they were united with the other Arab governments in condemning the Camp David agreements, and a defense agreement was signed with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain is the “least rich” of the oil producing countries in the Gulf region, with resources reaching close to 300 million barrels, and that would mean that the country will run “dry” in the near future if current production is maintained. Under the impression of these realities – greatly exacerbated by the collapse of the pearl production industry, which is threatened by the Japanese producers, and which leaves the desert land with fishing as the sole source of income – during the 1980s, the government reduced oil extraction and further exploited the islands’ strategic location to to transform them into bases for the region’s economic transactions.