Risk management report: Bahrain
POLITICS: The Al-Khalifa came to power in 1783, taking its authority from the family’s conquest of the archipelago from the Persian empire. Britain, interested in maritime trade routes, entered into an alliance with the Al- Khalifa in 1820 and helped secure its rule; it was not until 1971 that Bahrain declared independence. A new constitution provided for a fully elected parliament, formed in 1973, but that was disbanded in 1975 after it fell out with the ruler. A partially elected body was reinstated in the 2002 constitution, but power lies primarily with the executive, and the preponderance of Al- Khalifa in key positions means lines between state and ruling family are very blurred. The Sunni royal family rules over a population that is majority Shiite.