Middle East

Bahrain profile - Timeline

A chronology of key events:

1521-1602 - Portuguese rule.

1602-1783 - Persian rule.

1783 - Rule by sheikhs of the Khalifah family.

1861 - Britain assumes responsibility for the Bahrain's defence and foreign relations.

1913 - Britain and the Ottoman government sign a treaty recognising the independence of Bahrain but the country remains under British administration.

1931 - 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.

1939 - Britain decides that the Hawar Islands which lie in the Gulf of Bahrain between Bahrain and Qatar belong to Bahrain not Qatar.

1961 - Sheikh Isa Bin-Salman Al Khalifah becomes ruler of Bahrain.

Britain moves bases

1967 - Britain moves its main regional naval base from Aden to Bahrain.

1968 - Britain announces it will close its bases east of Suez by 1971.

1970 - The Administrative Council becomes a 12-member Council of State, headed by a president, the ruler's brother, Sheikh Khalifah Bin-Salman Al Khalifah.

1970 May - Iran renounces its claim to sovereignty over Bahrain after a United Nations report says that Bahrainis favour independence over rule by Britain or Iran. The future Islamic Republic of Iran does not recognise this renunciation.


1971 - 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.

1971 - Bahrain gains formal independence from Britain.

1971 - Bahrain and the US sign an agreement which permits the US to rent naval and military facilities.

1972 December - Elections are held for a Constituent Assembly. Only Bahraini males over 20 can vote.

1973 December - 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) .

Assembly dissolved

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The US 5th Fleet is based in Manama

1975 August - 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.

1981 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.

1981 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.

1986 - In April, Qatari troops occupy Fasht al-Dibal Island but withdraw in June after mediation by Saudi Arabia.

1986 November - Opening of the King Fahd causeway which links Bahrain to the mainland of Saudi Arabia.

Operation Desert Storm

1991 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)

1991 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.

Defence agreement with US

1991 October - Bahrain signs a defence cooperation agreement with the United States providing for port facilities and joint military exercises.

1992 December - The establishment of a 30-member Consultative Council, appointed by the emir for a four-year term.

1994 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.

1995 January - Sheikh Ali Salman is deported and seeks asylum in Britain.

1995 February - Bahrain rejects International Court of Justice (ICJ) mediation in its dispute with Qatar.

1995 June - After a reshuffle, the cabinet includes five Shia ministers.

1995 September - A Shia cleric, Sheikh Abd-al-Amir al-Jamri, arrested in April, is released from prison.

1996 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.

'Coup plot' uncovered

1996 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.

1996 September - The Consultative Council members are increased from 30 to 40.

1997 April - Bahrain acquires sole ownership of Bapco.

1998 February - Sheikh Khalid Bin-Muhammad Bin-Salman Al Khalifah replaces British citizen, Ian Henderson, as Director of the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS).

1998 December - Bahrain provides military facilities for "Operation Desert Fox", the US and UK bombing campaign against Iraq.

1999 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.

1999 July - Sheikh Abd-al-Amir al-Jamri is sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment but is pardoned by the new Emir.

1999 December - The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin-Khalifah Al Thani, visits. Both countries establish committee to settle territorial disputes.

2000 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.

Political reform

2001 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.

2001 November - Al-Wefaq opposition movement founded.

2002 February - Bahrain turns itself into a constitutional monarchy and allows women to stand for office in a package of reforms.

2002 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.

2002 October - Parliamentary elections held, the first for nearly 30 years. Authorities say the turnout was more than 50% despite a call by Islamists for a boycott.

2003 May - Thousands of victims of alleged torture petition king to cancel law which prevents them from suing suspected torturers.

2004 April - Nada Haffadh is made health minister - the first woman to head a government ministry.

2004 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.

Trade deal

2004 September - Bahrain and US sign free trade pact; Saudi Arabia condemns the move, saying it hinders regional economic integration.

2005 March-June - Thousands of protest marchers demand a fully-elected parliament.

2006 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.

2006 March - A pleasure boat capsizes off the Bahrain coast, claiming the lives of 58 passengers.

2006 November - The Shia opposition wins 40% of the vote in a general election. A Shia Muslim, Jawad bin Salem al-Oraied, is named as a deputy prime minister.

2007 September - Thousands of illegal foreign workers rush to take advantage of a government-sanctioned amnesty.

2008 May - A Jewish woman, Houda Nonoo, is appointed Bahrain's ambassador to the USA. She is believed to be the Arab world's first Jewish ambassador.

2008 December - Authorities arrest several people who allegedly planned to detonate homemade bombs during Bahrain's national celebrations.

2009 April - King pardons more than 170 prisoners charged with endangering national security, including 35 Shias being tried on charges of trying to overthrow the state.

2010 September - 20 Shia opposition leaders - accused of plotting to overthrow monarchy by promoting violent protests and sabotage - arrested in run-up to elections.

2010 October - Parliamentary elections. Main Shia opposition group, Islamic National Accord Association, makes a slender gain.


2011 February - Thousands of protesters gather in Manama, inspired by popular revolts that toppled rulers in Tunisia and Egypt. A security crackdown results in the death of several protestors.

2011 March - Saudi troops are called in following further unrest. Authorities declare martial law and clamp down hard on pro-democracy activists. Protests continue, despite ban on demonstrations.

Focal point of demonstrations - the Pearl monument - is demolished.

2011 April - Government moves to ban two main political parties which represent the Shia majority.

2011 September - Low turn-out for by-elections to replace MPs from the Shia opposition who quit parliament objecting to the violent crackdown on demonstrators.

2011 November - Government concedes that "excessive force" was used by security forces in Bahrain against pro-democracy protesters.

2012 February - Police thwart opposition attempts to protest on the anniversary of the crackdown on last year's mass demonstration on the site of the demolished Pearl square. Protests nonetheless resume through the spring.

2012 April - The controversial Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix takes place amid anti-government protests.

2012 May - Leading opposition activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja ends a three-month hunger strike. A military court jailed him for life in June 2011 for "plotting against the state".

2012 June - Appeals court partially overturns long jail sentences on 20 medics for taking part in anti-government protests. Nine are acquitted, and the rest were given much shorter sentences.

2012 August - Rights activist Nabeel Rajab is jailed for three years for taking part in "illegal gatherings". Sporadic anti-monarchy protests continue.

2012 October - Protesters clash with riot police in Manama at funeral of Ali Ahmed Mushaima, who died in prison after being jailed for taking part in pro-democracy demonstrations. The authorities indefinitely ban all protests and gatherings.

2013 February - National dialogue talks begin in effort to end unrest.

2013 March - King Hamad appoints his son, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, as deputy prime minister. The Crown Prince is widely viewed as a moderate who previously occupied an influential position until he was sidelined by hardliners in the ruling family after the 2011 clampdown on unrest.

2013 April - Several weeks of unrest involving opponents of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, who allege the event is used by the government to gloss over its poor human rights record.

2013 September - Bahrain's main Shia opposition groups pull out of talks with the government in protest at the arrest of a leading member of Wefaq, the main Shia opposition society.

2014 January - The government suspends deadlocked reconciliation talks with the Shia opposition.

2014 May - Leading rights activist Nabeel Rajab is released after two years in prison; he urges the government and the opposition to engage in dialogue.

2014 July - Bomb blast kills police officer, the latest in a series of attacks on security forces.

2014 October - Main Shia opposition group Al-Wefaq banned for three months.

2014 November - Parliamentary elections, boycotted and dismissed by the Shia opposition as a farce.

2014 March - Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE temporarily withdraw their ambassadors from Qatar after alleging that it has been meddling in their internal affairs.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The portrait of Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the Al-Wefaq opposition movement, is held aloft during a demonstration pressing for his release

2014 December - Leader of Al-Wefaq opposition movement Sheikh Ali Salman is arrested. Protests and clashes between his supporters and security forces ensue.

2015 March - Bahrain and four other GCC states take part in Saudi-led air strikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen.

2016 August - A UN-appointed panel accused the authorities of carrying out a systematic campaign of harassment against the country's Shia Muslim population.

2017 January - Bahrain executes three Shia activists convicted of killing three policemen in a bomb attack in 2014 - the country's first execution in six years.

2017 May - The country's most prominent Shia cleric - Isa Qassim - is found guilty of illegal fundraising and money laundering and given a suspended sentence.

2017 August - The National Security Agency is accused of torturing detainees by three of the country's human rights groups.

2017 October - A bomb attack kills a policeman. The government has blamed previous attacks on Shia Muslim militants who it says are backed by Iran. Teheran denies this.

2018 April - Bahrain reports discovery of the kingdom's largest oilfield in more than 80 years.

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