Bahrain: Veteran PM returns to the cabinet as austerity measures bite
Politics: The Al-Khalifas came to power in 1783, driving the Persian empire from the archipelago. The British empire entered into an alliance with the Al-Khalifa 200 years ago; only in 1971 did Bahrain declare independence. The constitution provided for an elected parliament, which was formed in 1973 but disbanded in 1975 after a period of repressive rule; a partially elected body was reinstated in 2002. However, power lies primarily with the executive, controlled by the Sunni Al-Khalifas, who rule over a majority Shia population.