Abdullah and Salman Al Khalifa sign abstention from piracy treaty with the East India Company. [4]


Peace Treaty with Britain. [4]


Treaty of Perpetual Peace and Friendship with Britain: This ceded to Britain control of foreign affairs in return for protection from attack. [4]


War between Bahrain and Qatar and succession crises. [4]


Royal Navy intervenes after coup and deports both of the Mohammeds to Bombay and place Isa on the throne. [4]


Agreement with British. [4]


Agreement with British. [4]


First British reports of oil. [4]

From the early 20th century on, British colonial rule grafted numerous legal and administrative reforms onto a tribal form of local political authority centered around the Al Khalifa family. These reforms were also propelled by the transition from an economy organized mainly around feudal-type estates to a more complex commercial and industrial economy based on oil production and export. In the pre-independence period, as rule of law was constructed in numerous domains, political challenges to local and colonial authority continued to be dealt with in summary fashion, with little regard to emerging international norms of political and civil rights. [5]


British force Isa to hand over day to day running of Bahrain to his son, Hamad. [4]


Major Holmes granted oil concession in Bahrain. [4]


The Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco), a subsidiary of the Standard Oil Company of California (Socal), discovers oil at Jabal al-Dukhan and production begins the following year. [2]


Main British naval base in the region moved to Bahrain. [4]


Britain decides that the Hawar Islands which lie in the Gulf of Bahrain between Bahrain and Qatar belong to Bahrain not Qatar. [2]


A US three warship Middle East Force (MEF) is headquartered in Bahrain. [5]


Anti-British Riots as a result of Suez. British troops landed to control the riots. [4]


Sheikh Isa ibn Salman al Khalifa becomes amir after the death of his father Sulman bin Hamad al-Khalifa. [3]


Scot Ian Henderson takes charge of Bahrain's security. He had previously served in Kenya fighting the Mau Mau uprising. Henderson and the security forces become synonymous with torture and repression during his service. [1] [5] [6]

Britain puts down demonstrations against the regime. The Economist notes that 'the British have no sympathy with the notion of political organisations in Bahrain'. [1]


Britain moves its main regional naval base from Aden to Bahrain. [2]


Britain announces it will close its bases east of Suez by 1971. [2]


The Administrative Council becomes a 12-member Council of State, headed by a president, the ruler's brother, Sheikh Khalifah Bin-Salman Al Khalifah. [2]

Iran renounces its claim to sovereignty over Bahrain after a United Nations report shows that Bahrainis want to remain independent. [2]

Administrative and political reforms established. A 12-member Council of State becomes the supreme executive authority. Initially, four of the twelve Directors were members of the royal family, and there were equal numbers of Shi'i and Sunni Muslims. The Council was renamed the Cabinet of State, with the Sheik as Prime Minister, in August 1971. [3]


Bahrain declares independence and signs a new treaty of friendship with Britain. Sheikh Isa becomes the first Emir and the Council of State becomes a cabinet. [2]

Bahrain gains formal independence from Britain. [2]

Bahrain and the United States sign an agreement which permits the United States to rent naval and military facilities. [2]


Elections are held for a Constituent Assembly. Only Bahraini males over 20 can vote. [2]

The first years of independence, from 1972 to 1975, constituted an interlude of sorts. A partially-elected constituent assembly constructed a constitution that endorsed a wide range of internationally recognized civil and political rights and called for a National Assembly of thirty elected and up to fourteen appointed cabinet ministers ex officio, with powers to review (though not initiate) legislation and interrogate members of the government. Although political parties remained illegal, a national campaign and elections in 1973 led to the emergence of three relatively distinct groupings-a so-called People's Bloc, mainly leftists and Arab nationalists; a Religious Bloc comprising teachers and religious court judges mainly from rural constituencies; and an Independent Middle. [5]


After the constitution comes into force on 6 December, elections are held on 7 December for a National Assembly, an advisory legislative body, with 44 members (14 cabinet members and 30 elected by male voters). [2]

Bahrain accommodates U.S. requests for increased access to military facilities following the Arab-Israeli war. [5]


There is widespread unrest due to a sharp rise in the cost of living and a delay in the establishment of trade unions. [3]


Following claims by prime minister Sheikh Khalifah Bin-Salman Al Khalifah that the National Assembly is impeding the work of the government, the Emir dissolves the assembly and rules by decree. The Constitution is suspended, unrest follows. [2] [3]

The political detente between the ruling Al Khalifa family and the disparate forces of civil society comes apart, when the government is unable to obtain National Assembly approval of a State Security Measures Law, which authorizes arrest and imprisonment for up to three years without charge or trial for undefined "acts" or "statements" that could be construed to threaten the country's internal or external security. In August 1975, the government dissolves the National Assembly by decree. The constitution stipulates that in such an event elections for a new assembly must be held within two months. This the ruling family, steadfastly refuses to do. [5]


The government decrees a new penal code that substantively nullifies many of the civil liberties and political rights protected by the constitution and effectively criminalizes a wide range of nonviolent political activities. Over the years of unconstitutional rule by decree that follow, other decrees further undermine basic political and due process rights. As a consequence, Bahrain since 1975 is a country where citizens risk search and seizure, and incarceration without charge or trial, for speaking out publicly in a manner that the government regards as hostile or critical. Public advocacy of restoring the National Assembly provisions of the constitution falls into this category. Communications among citizens, and between residents and persons outside Bahrain, are monitored. Political parties and organizations are proscribed, as are independent trade unions. Public meetings and gatherings require prior authorization, which in practice is not given. Radio and television media is directly controlled by the state; a combination of state censorship and stringent self-censorship rules out critical discussion in print of domestic politics or of relations with neighboring states. Abuses that are categorically forbidden by Bahrain's constitution, as well as by international law, such as torture and forced exile, are practiced routinely, as matters of state policy. [5]


25 May - Bahrain joins the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, more usually known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which also includes Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

13 December - Seventy-three people, said to be members of the Tehran-based Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, headed by Iranian cleric, Hojjat ol-Eslam Hadi al-Mudarrisi, are arrested and accused of conspiring to overthrow the government on 16 December, Bahrain's National Day. [2]


The Shi'i-dominated Bahrain Freedom Movement is established. The more radical Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain (IFLB) has operated at least since 1981 when it attempted a coup against the government. [3]


The situation in Bahrain is tense because of security concerns. There were rumors of plots to overthrow the government, possibly with the assistance of Iran. Since the suspension of the National Assembly, the government has imposed strict censorship on the press, and banned political parties and trade unions. [3]


In April, Qatari troops occupy Fasht al-Dibal Island but withdraw in June after mediation by Saudi Arabia.

26 November - Opening of the King Fahd causeway which links Bahrain to the mainland of Saudi Arabia. [2]


Bahrain accommodates U.S. requests for increased access to military facilities during the so called "tanker war", in Which US forces protect Iraqi oil shipments against Iranian attack. [5]

The U.S. accounted for $260 million in arms deliveries to Bahrain between 1979 and 1988, out of total arms deliveries of $625 million [5]


January/February - As part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Peninsula Shield Force, Bahrain participates in the coalition "Operation Desert Storm" against Iraq (the Gulf War)

July - Qatar takes its territorial claim to the Hawar Islands, Fasht al-Dibal and Qitat Jaradah before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague but Bahrain rejects the claims.

27 October - Bahrain signs a defence cooperation agreement with the United States providing for port facilities and joint military exercises. [2]


20 December - The establishment of a 30-member Consultative Council, appointed by the emir for a four-year term. [2]


Amnesty International publishes a critical report on human rights abuses, particularly the forced exportation of nationals, in Bahrain. [3]


December - Demonstrations follow the arrest on 5 December of Shia cleric, Sheikh Ali Salman, who calls for the restoration of the National Assembly and criticises the ruling family. [2]

There are several opposition movements currently operating in Bahrain including the Islamic Front, the Bahrain Liberation Front, the Islamic Movement of Free Bahrainis, the Popular Front in Bahrain, and the Bahraini Liberation Front. Based mainly within the Shia community, they are demanding the guarantee of basic liberties, respect for human rights, free and comprehensive elections, and a new constitution. There is a semblance of martial law in the country. (BBC, 12/29/1994) [3]


15 January - Sheikh Ali Salman is deported and seeks asylum in Britain. [2]

15 February - Bahrain rejects International Court of Justice (ICJ) mediation in its dispute with Qatar. [2]

By late February between 300 and 2000 people are in detention following continued street protests. [5]

26 June - After a reshuffle, the cabinet includes five Shia ministers. [2]

However, discrimination against Shia worsens. [5]

July - The US Navy's Fifth Fleet is established in Bahrain. [5]

25 September - A Shia cleric, Sheikh Abd-al-Amir al-Jamri, arrested in April, is released from prison. [2]

Eighteen members of the US Congress sign a letter to Bahrain's ambassador urging the government "to uphold international standards of human rights" and citing reports of "forced exiles, detentions without trials and deaths under torture." The U.S. government, however, has consistently avoided opportunities to criticize Bahrain's abusive human rights record. [5]

The U.S. accounted for $700 million in arms deliveries in the 1988-1995 period, out of total deliveries of $800 million. [5]


January/February - After bomb explosions in Manama's business quarter, Al-Jamri is arrested again on 18 January. A Sunni lawyer and poet, Ahmad al-Shamlan, is also detained on 8 February, but released in April. [2] [5]

25 January - US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Pelletreau says that unrest in Bahrain "is brought about by a fairly high level of unemployment and some unrest in Bahrain's Shi`a community. It is urged on and promoted by Iran, across the Persian Gulf.... [Bahrain's leaders] are dealing with it, in my view, in a responsible way that deserves our support." [5]

State Department officials responsible for monitoring Iran's role in the Persian Gulf, speaking off the record, tell Human Rights Watch in early 1996 that they have seen no evidence of an important or an instigatory Iranian role in Bahrain's political unrest. [5]

March - The government expands the jurisdiction of the State Security Court, reducing the ability of accused persons to defend themselves. The Security Court is also expanded in size to cope with the extra cases. [5]

3 June - The government says it has uncovered a coup plot by an Iranian-backed group, Hezbollah-Bahrain. Bahrain recalls its ambassador to Iran and downgrades its representation to charge d'affaires level. [2] [5]

28 September - The Consultative Council members are increased from 30 to 40. [2]

Secretary Perry returns to Bahrain to arrange for the basing of twenty three additional U.S. Air Force F-16s for use in patrolling the southern Iraq "no-fly" zone. [5]


Shias suffer from higher rates of unemployment and are barred from employment in the police or security services. The government maintains that the protests plaguing the country are organized by Hezbollah-Bahrain, allegedly backed by Iran.(Middle East Review of World Information) [3] [5]

March - US Deputy Secretary of Defense John White visits Bahrain for talks on military cooperation. [5]

Former President George Bush visits Bahrain and publicly commends the authorities for their handling of the protests: "I salute the government of Bahrain for preserving order and for guaranteeing for every Bahraini citizen a secure environment." [5]

April - Alleged members of the Bahrain Hezbollah are on trial. In all, 54 Shia Moslems in detention and 27 others being tried in absentia are accused of fomenting violence and anti-government activities. (AFP, 3/6/1997) The existence of a Bahrain Hezbollah is itself questioned by some who accuse the government of fabricating its existence in order to blame outsiders for the political unrest. (Intelligence Newsletter, 7/4/1996) [3] [5]

1 April - Bahrain acquires sole ownership of Bapco. [2]

June - Crown Prince Isa al-Khalifa meets with senior interior and defense ministry officials and elite troops to look at the security concerns amid continuing unrest. Numerous Jordanians are reportedly employed as officers in Bahrain's security forces. (DPA, 6/23/1997) [3]

July - Human Rights Watch reports: Human rights abuses in Bahrain are wide-ranging and fall into two basic categories. The first relates to law enforcement and administration of justice issues. These encompass the behavior of security forces toward those under arrest and detention, and when confronting civil disturbances; arbitrary detention; physical and psychological abuse of detainees; denial of access to legal counsel; and denial of the right to a swift and impartial judicial hearing. The second area of human rights violations relates to the broad denial of fundamental political rights and civil liberties, including freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, and the right to participate in the conduct of public affairs. In terms of numbers of people affected, the situation has been particularly acute since the end of 1994, with the onset of a period of protracted civil unrest that has continued into the spring of 1997. This unrest has increasingly taken on the coloration of a sectarian conflict between the majority Shi`a population and the Sunni ruling family and military-political establishment. The government of Bahrain has dismissed the unrest as the work of "Hizb Allah terrorists" instigated and supported by Iran.

Respect for human rights has long been problematic in Bahrain, and many abusive practices derive from the policies pursued by Great Britain prior to independence in 1971........ [5]

August - A U.N. Sub-commission on the protection of minorities expresses concern over the violation of human rights, including discrimination against the Shia majority, extrajudicial executions, allegations of torture, and arbitrary detention, in Bahrain. (DPA, 8/21/1997) [3]


February - Sheikh Khalid Bin-Muhammad Bin-Salman Al Khalifah replaces British citizen, Ian Henderson, as Director of the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS). Henderson takes up a role as advisor to the interior ministry. [1]

May - The Financial Times reports that the Bahraini government 'continues to crack down on the slightest sign of dissent'. [1]

16-19 December - Bahrain provides military facilities for "Operation Desert Fox", the US and UK bombing campaign against Iraq. [2]

The economy improved greatly during 1997 which greatly lowered the intensity of political conflict in the country. Increased oil revenues led to increased government expenditure and improved economic opportunities for the local population. However, it is estimated that 1400 political prisoners remain in jail. Dissidents were publicly executed during 1996, and a popular leader Abdel Amir al-Jamri died while in detention in July 1997. (Middle East Review of World Information) [3]


6 March - The emir, Sheikh Isa, dies and is succeeded by his eldest son, Sheikh Hamad. On March 9, Sheikh Hamad's son, Sheikh Salman, becomes Crown Prince.

July - Sheikh Abd-al-Amir al-Jamri is sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment but is pardoned by the new Emir.

29 December - The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin-Khalifah Al Thani, visits. Both countries establish committee to settle territorial disputes. [2]


January - After a joint Independent/Channel 4 investigation, the UK Home Secretary Jack Straw announces that an investigation has begun into Henderson by the Metropolitan Police, who are in receipt of papers alleging torture. [1] [6]

July - British national Ian Henderson resigns as adviser to Bahraini government after career as head of repressive internal security service. [1] [6]

September - Emir appoints for the first time non-Muslims and women to the Consultative Council, including four women - one of whom is a Christian - and a Jewish businessman. [2]


February - Referendum on political reform; Bahrainis overwhelmingly back proposals under which Bahrain would become constitutional monarchy with elected lower chamber of parliament and independent judiciary. [2]

All political prisoners are pardoned and the state security law and state security court, which severely suppressed basic freedoms, are abolished. [1]


14 February - Bahrain turns itself into a constitutional monarchy and allows women to stand for office in a package of reforms.

May - Local elections are held, Bahrain's first poll for almost 30 years. For the first time women vote and stand as candidates, but fail to win a seat.

October - Parliamentary elections held, the first for nearly 30 years. Authorities say the turnout was more than 50% despite a call by Islamist parties for a boycott. [2]

The king announces the restoration of parliament, with the creation of a lower house - consisting of forty elected members - and an upper house - a shura or consultative council, of forty members appointed by the king. [1]

These are significant improvements for Bahrainis, but major brakes on democratic freedoms remain. Most important is the fact that the new parliament is less powerful than the old one suspended in 1975. The appointed upper house is far more powerful than the elected chamber, meaning that the king retains overall control. [1]

Britain continues to side with the rulers, rejecting calls to use its close military and political ties with the Bahrain regime publicly to press it to end abuses. Britain continues to arm and train the regime and exports arms to 'all units of the Bahraini security forces, including the Bahrain Defence Force and the Bahrain National Guard, whose forces have received some training from the Ministry of Defence. That training is 'tailored to Bahrains's requirements', a parliamentary committee notes, while the MoD describes Bahrain as 'a key regional ally of the UK'. [1]


May - Thousands of victims of alleged torture petition king to cancel law which prevents them from suing suspected torturers.

November/December - Security concerns as UK, US warn of serious threat of terrorist attacks against Western targets in Bahrain. [2]


April - Nada Haffadh is made health minister - the first woman to head a government ministry. [2]

May - Protests in Manama against fighting in the Iraqi holy cities of Najaf, Karbala. The king sacks the interior minister after police try to prevent the protest. [2]

September - Bahrain and US sign free trade pact; Saudi Arabia condemns the move, saying it hinders regional economic integration. [2]


March-June - Thousands of protest marchers demand a fully-elected parliament. [2]


January - US President George W Bush signs a bill to enact the 2004 US-Bahrain free-trade agreement after it is approved by the US Congress. [2]

October - USA, UK, France, Italy, Australia and Bahrain stage a mock interception of dangerous weapons technology, an exercise the U.S. expects nearby Iran to notice. [7]