Five people were left dead and hundreds detained after a raid by Bahraini government forces against a pro- opposition stronghold. This is said to be one of the deadlier crackdowns to happen in the Kingdom since protests began in 2011. Bahrain continues to have good diplomatic relations with both the United States and Egypt after King Hamad met with both Trump and Al-Sisi this month. The Gulf island continues to be criticized for its human rights record with the UN calling for the release of an imprisoned human rights activist as well as an investigation into the treatment of detainees. The Kingdom is also accused of cracking down on freedom of speech as well as censorship after barring a Human Rights Watch (HRW) official from entering the country and blocking eight Qatari news sources after an Emir was quoted criticising US foreign policy in a Qatari publication. Economically, Bahrain is trying to keep up amidst dropping oil prices by merging with other Gulf finance houses as well as investing in its small and medium sized enterprises. Nonetheless, the Kingdom reported a 3 per cent growth rate in its non-oil sector.Read More
Bahrain worked with other Gulf Arab leaders to discuss regional security as well as to formulate a unified stance on Iran. Despite the continuation of tense relations between Bahrain and Iran due to continued suspicion of Iranian intervention in Bahrain’s domestic affairs, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifah made a statement encouraging the continuation of talks between Iran and Persian Gulf Arab countries, mediated by Kuwait. Clashes between Bahrain’s Shiite population and the Sunni ruled government persist causing an uptick in government intervention. The crackdown has worried human rights groups. Bahrain is scheduled to have its UN Human Rights review session in Geneva on May 1st. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Bahrain to make significant spending cuts after the economy has been hard hit by falling oil prices. Construction of the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving and regasification terminal in the Middle East is underway in the Hidd Industrial area of Bahrain. After meeting with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa, head of the Russian republic of Chechnya, Ranzan Kadyrov, announced that the prominent Russian gas company Gazprom had reached an agreement with Bahrain’s authorities regarding its participation in oil and gas prospecting works. Bahrain continued to pursue close economic, political, and cultural ties with countries such as the Philippines, Sudan, and Pakistan. The US has agreed to supply the Royal Bahrain Naval Force with another five Mk V patrol boats later this year. Although Bahrain’s economy has been hard hit by falling oil prices, its business investment as well as restaurant and hotel sector have continued to grow.
Bahraini authorities claimed to uncover an international terrorist cell planning assassination attempts in the Kingdom and accused Iran of backing the terrorists. The Iranian government issued statements in response to the accusations. The League of Arab States expressed support for Bahrain in all of its counter-terrorism efforts. The Kingdom continues to garner scrutiny regarding its human rights record The Bahraini government took steps to ban the main opposition party and transfer many civilian judicial cases to military court. Bangladeshi Embassy in Bahrain issued a temporary ban on its nationals entering the country until workers’ rights were addressed. A number of Indian workers in Bahrain also appealed to their government for assistance regarding workers’ rights. The Trump administration told Congress it plans to move forwarded with a billion-dollar arms deal with Bahrain despite human rights violations warranting backlash from groups like Amnesty international. The British government was also scrutinized for not backing a joint United Nations Statement criticising Bahrain’s human rights record. Bahrain’s parliament extended an invitation to UN Human Rights Chief for an unrestricted visit after he made a statement regarding human rights in the Kingdom. A major military training exercise with Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain commenced. Strong ties between Jordan, the UAE, and Egypt prevail as leaders made statements in support of Bahrain. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain signed nine agreements to carry out projects relating to water, housing, infrastructure, and electricity estimated to be worth around SR 1 billion. The Sixth Bahrain- Turkish Joint Committee convened in Ankara. A delegation of business men from Gulf nations arrived in Islamabad for the Pakistan-Bahrain Business Opportunities Conference. The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) seeks to make Bahrain a fintech hub with the help of Singapore. Bahrain Bourse (BHB) celebrated the launch of the Bahrain Investment Market (BIM). Bahrain’s tourist industry is rapidly growing and is expected to reach $1 billion by 2020.Read More