Foreign policy and defense
According to abbreviationfinder, Bahrain is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city is Manama. Bahrain has been Western friendly ever since independence in 1971. That year a friendship treaty was signed with the UK. Nowadays, however, relations with neighboring Saudi Arabia are the most important. The Saudis, like Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, provide financial support to Bahrain. Iran has often been seen as a threat.
The war that broke out between Iran and Iraq in 1980, and a coup attempt in the country, contributed to Bahrain’s founding in 1981 to establish a cooperation council for the states around the Persian Gulf (Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, where also the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia included). Several of the GCC countries agreed in 2009 to create a single currency union, but plans have since been postponed for the future. In connection with the street protests against the government in Bahrain in February 2011, military GCC forces, under Saudi leadership, came to assist Bahrain security forces (see Modern History). It was the first time GCCthe Peninsula Shield Force was deployed in one of the member states. It was also considered to strengthen Saudi Arabia’s influence in the region as well as in Bahrain.
- Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Bahrain for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
During the 1980s, Bahrain strengthened its defense with foreign aid. Iran, which has long claimed Bahrain, was seen as a threat. In the 1990s, diplomatic relations with Iran were restored. When Conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became President of Iran in 2005, relations deteriorated and they have remained frosty because of Bahrain’s allegations that Iran supports insurgents in the country (see Modern History and Current Politics).
During Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Bahrain, like other GCC states, stood on the side of the Westerners. After the war, the United States and Bahrain signed an agreement on defense cooperation; The United States’ fifth fleet now has its base in Bahrain. The United States sees the country as one of its closest allies outside NATO cooperation. However, the United States, like several Western countries, has expressed concern for a lack of respect for human rights in Bahrain, including through oppression of oppositionists. There is also a defense cooperation with the UK. The British opened a new naval base in the country in 2018 and had previously warships stationed there.
Following the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, Bahrain joined the US-led war on terrorism as well as the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. By contrast, Bahrain did not support the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Bahrain did, however, establish diplomatic relations with the Iraqi regime that continued after Saddam Hussein’s overthrow. The country also joined forces behind the United States to fight the Islamic State (IS) jihadist movement and participated in air strikes against targets in Syria from autumn 2014.
Dispute within GCC
With neighboring Qatar, Bahrain has had several border disputes, but conditions have improved since they both accepted a ruling in the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 2001. Ferry traffic has been established and plans are underway to build a road and rail link between the countries. In 2014, the relationship was re-strained, as Bahrain, like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, took home its Doha ambassador following allegations that Qatar had become involved in other countries’ domestic policies. The criticism was about Qatar’s connection with the Muslim Brotherhood. The ambassadors were sent back after six months after the conflict was annexed at a meeting in Saudi Arabia, but the conflict was seen as the most serious so far within the GCC.
Bahrain has strengthened its cooperation with Russia. In 2014, the countries signed several agreements to expand trade and initiate military cooperation, including through Russian arms exports to Bahrain. The agreements received criticism from the United States and several human rights organizations that expressed concern that it could contribute negatively to Bahrain’s internal political contradictions.
FACTS – DEFENSE
Army: 6,000 men (2017)
The air Force: 1,500 men (2017)
The fleet: 700 men (2017)
Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 4.1 percent (2017)
Military spending’s share of the state budget: 11.8 percent (2017)